WBEZ | News http://www.wbez.org/news Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Sheriff calls on feds to investigate Puerto Rican agencies that send addicts to Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-calls-feds-investigate-puerto-rican-agencies-send-addicts-chicago-112079 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/tomdart ap.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is asking the federal government to investigate P<a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/puertoricochicagopipeline/">uerto Rican agencies and government officials who send addicts to Chicago</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Dart filed a fraud report with the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development inspector general this week. In it he warns the inspector general that recipients of HUD funding in Puerto Rico may be using federal funds to send heroin addicts off the island.</p><p dir="ltr">He said he hopes his report will move to the top of the inspector general&rsquo;s pile.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;When you have instances where people have committed some type of fraud where the only individual who was harmed was a governmental entity &hellip; it&rsquo;s a heck of a lot different than when you literally pluck people out of their country and drop them thousands and thousands of miles away,&rdquo; Dart said.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/puerto-rico-exports-its-drug-addicts-chicago-111852">WBEZ reported last month</a> that Puerto Rican agencies and government officials have been sending people seeking treatment to unlicensed rehab centers on the mainland. Dart said that violates requirements that recipients of the federal funding &nbsp;only use licensed or certified rehab professionals. He also said the HUD rules direct organizations to minimize displacement. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;These deceptive at best operations of giving people one way tickets to the United States ... are gonna be in violation of the contracts that they have with HUD,&rdquo; Dart said.</p><p dir="ltr">Dart&rsquo;s report lists two examples of possible fraud:</p><p dir="ltr">The first is the municipality Bayamon, which operates the Nuevo Amanacer program. It has been receiving HUD funding since at least 2007, according to Dart&rsquo;s report. In 2014 Bayamon got a $217,977 HUD Emergency Solutions Grant.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It is unknown what portion of this grant is awarded to the Nuevo Amanecer program,&rdquo; the fraud complaint reads. But if it is being funded by HUD money, the program is in violation of several federal regulations, Dart alleges.</p><p dir="ltr">The second example sites the program Vuelta a la Vida. According to Dart, Vuelta a la Vida received more than $1.5 million from HUD in 2014 in the form of a continuum of care grant.</p><p dir="ltr">The rules for that grant require groups to use services that are in compliance with all state and local licensing laws. But none of the rehab centers identified in WBEZ&rsquo;s reporting are licensed by the state.</p><p dir="ltr">Dart said if the inspector general confirms his allegations, the groups could lose their federal funding. He also said his office is continuing its own investigation to see if unlicensed, unofficial addiction-help centers in Chicago are breaking any local laws.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/pksmid" target="_blank">@pksmid</a>. Adriana Cardona-Maguigad contributed to this story.</em></p></p> Fri, 22 May 2015 15:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-calls-feds-investigate-puerto-rican-agencies-send-addicts-chicago-112079 Illinois prisons director resigns 2 months after taking job http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-prisons-director-resigns-2-months-after-taking-job-112077 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/wbez carlos javier ortiz.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. &mdash; Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner&#39;s choice for state prisons director has resigned just two months into the job.</p><div><p>Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said Friday that the Republican governor had accepted the resignation of Donald Stolworthy.</p><p>She did not give a reason for the departure of the 54-year-old former U.S. State Department aide.</p><p>Neither Stolworthy nor his spokeswoman commented immediately.</p><p>Rauner named Stolworthy as acting director of the Department of Corrections on March 9. He previously worked for the State Department&#39;s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs where he assessed foreign prison systems.</p><p>Kelly says Stolworthy has agreed to &quot;help during the transition period&quot; to a new director. She had no other comment.</p><p>Stolworthy had a salary of $150,000 a year.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 22 May 2015 11:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-prisons-director-resigns-2-months-after-taking-job-112077 Illinois moves to downgrade pot possession to a fine http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-moves-downgrade-pot-possession-fine-112076 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/marijuanabug.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. &mdash; Legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana is headed to Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner&#39;s desk.</p><p>The Illinois Senate voted 37-19 Thursday to make possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana a civil violation punishable by fines between $55 and a $125. Violators would not face jail time.</p><p>&quot;There has been much talk this year about criminal justice reform and being smarter on crime,&quot; said Sen. Michael Noland, the Senate sponsor of the legislation. &quot;With this measure the Senate and House take an important step in the right direction. The benefits we will see from this plan are innumerable.&quot;</p><p>It will be sent the governor after a second bill passes to address some concerns. One such concern addresses ensuring court records of the fines could be expunged without a court order.</p><p>Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly declined to comment on whether the governor would sign the bill, saying he would &quot;carefully consider any legislation that crosses his desk.&quot;</p><p>The vote comes the same day the Senate also approved a measure extending Illinois&#39; medical marijuana program by two or more years. That also heads to the governor&#39;s office, although Rauner is skeptical of extending the program.</p><p>More than a dozen states have removed jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates for marijuana law reform.</p><p>Marijuana advocacy and civil liberties groups see the effort as a step toward broader marijuana decriminalization. Some Republican lawmakers object to it for the same reason.</p><p>Rep. Kelly Cassidy is the original sponsor. She has said the measure isn&#39;t about decriminalization, but addressing racial disparities in enforcing marijuana possession.</p><p>&quot;This is not, frankly, decriminalizing. This is not legalizing,&quot; the Chicago Democrat said recent Senate committee. &quot;This is uniform enforcement.&quot;</p></p> Fri, 22 May 2015 09:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-moves-downgrade-pot-possession-fine-112076 Grand Jury Indicts 6 Baltimore Officers In Freddie Gray's Death http://www.wbez.org/news/grand-jury-indicts-6-baltimore-officers-freddie-grays-death-112073 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/freddiegrayyoutube.png" alt="" /><p><p>A grand jury has returned indictments against all six Baltimore Police Department officers charged in connection with the death last month of <a href="http://www.npr.org/tags/401114525/freddie-gray" target="_blank">Freddie Gray</a>, the state&#39;s attorney in Baltimore says.</p><p>Prosecutor Marilyn J. Mosby said at a news conference that the officers will be arraigned July 2. The charges against them are similar to <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/05/01/403496063/freddie-gray-update-new-speculation-on-his-death-and-peaceful-protests" target="_blank">those announced</a> May 1 that range from one count of second-degree murder and four counts of involuntary manslaughter to assault and misconduct in office. As Bill noted at the time:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;The most severe charges are leveled against Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., identified as the driver of the van that transported Gray to a police station. The charges against Goodson include second-degree depraved heart murder, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.</p><p>&quot;The investigation by the prosecutor&#39;s office found there had been no reason to detain Gray &mdash; and that his arrest was in itself illegal, Mosby said. She said the knife that police officers found on Gray turned out to be legal.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>NPR&#39;s Jennifer Ludden, who is reporting on this story for our Newscast unit, says that while the most serious charges against the officers still stand, there is &quot;one change &mdash; charges of false imprisonment have been dropped.&quot; She adds:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;Mosby had originally based them on her contention that the knife Gray was carrying was legal, but lawyers for the officers dispute that. The grand jury added charges of reckless endangerment, bolstering Mosby&#39;s allegation that officers repeatedly failed to render aid to Gray after he asked for it.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>Gray, 25, was arrested April 12 and suffered a serious spine injury while in police custody. He died April 19. Mosby said Gray &quot;suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet, and unrestrained inside of the BPD wagon.&quot;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>For more coverage of this story, please click <a href="http://www.npr.org/tags/401114525/freddie-gray">here</a>.</p></p> Thu, 21 May 2015 17:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/grand-jury-indicts-6-baltimore-officers-freddie-grays-death-112073 Avian flu outbreak takes poultry producers into uncharted territory http://www.wbez.org/news/avian-flu-outbreak-takes-poultry-producers-uncharted-territory-112067 <p><p>An avian flu outbreak is sweeping across the Midwest at a frightening pace, ravaging chicken and turkey farms and leaving officials stumped about the virus&#39;s seemingly unstoppable spread.</p><p>Now reaching to 15 states, the outbreak has been detected at 174 farms, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Because there&#39;s no vaccine, infected and even healthy birds must be killed to try to stop the virus, forcing the killing of 38.9 million birds and counting, the USDA&nbsp;<a href="http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wps/portal/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/sa_animal_disease_information/sa_avian_health/ct_avian_influenza_disease/!ut/p/a1/lVJNU4MwEP0tHnqkSYEC9db6VdS2akdbuDBLCJAREiaEMvrrDVgdnbFVc9vd93b3vQ0K0RaFHHYsA8UEh6KLQye6Xs3N0Qyb_tV6coH95dPlwrt1rdXc1oBAA_CBN8Xf-asb3-n4D3g2Px_htYU2KEQh4apSOQqgylkdEcEV5SoqWCxBvgxwDZFoZJQK0tR9BJyVUEQ5hULlXzMJqynUNGI8FbLsRbyXdwz4J56ofULDiobyV_ggdstUhCUoiM1Jih2TGpY3AsMmsWXAGMaGOU7SJCHEtSx3L_6Iul_M68VryNnVdG67t9ow2zOxf67p7mSBse_sAUf8DfQO7sEhExut_ynq-g8nN-XibJHptqByozMbbY8e4b385Qhoe-QImxkKnZZt_PtumawQcf8TgymPLU9PlTSlksphI3U6V6o6HeABbtt2yEQLkElGmkI1kg4zsRvgfsznlCHU1U_NclErtD3QBFXlY-lZL8ZzulwaYXB3V268enpy8gaLBRxS/?1dmy&amp;urile=wcm%3apath%3a%2Faphis_content_library%2Fsa_our_focus%2Fsa_animal_health%2Fsa_animal_disease_information%2Fsa_avian_health%2Fsa_detections_by_states%2Fct_ai_pacific_flyway">says</a>.</p><p>The particular strain of avian flu, highly pathogenic H5N2,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/publications/wildlife_health_bulletins/WHB_2014-05_H5N8.pdf">was first confirmed</a>&nbsp;in a backyard flock in Washington state. While chickens and turkeys are highly susceptible to it, it is considered a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/h5/index.htm">low risk</a>&nbsp;for transmission to humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p><blockquote><p><strong><a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/05/20/408293053/midwest-farmers-rush-to-dispose-of-chickens-killed-to-contain-avian-flu">Midwest Farmers Rush To Dispose Of Chickens Killed To Contain Avian Flu</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>Now officials are scrambling, trying to figure out how to dispose of millions of dead birds. Most of them are in Iowa, the largest egg producer in the U.S. and the one hardest hit by the outbreak. At one farm alone, Rembrandt Enterprises, some 5.5 million birds had to be destroyed.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;ve been in the landfill business probably 26 years, and I&#39;ve never ever seen this kind of volume,&quot; said Randy Oldenkamp, director of the Northwest Iowa Area Solid Waste Agency. &quot;And I hope I never do again.&quot;</p><p>Oldenkamp is accepting 100 loads of the birds for disposal at 15 tons a load. But other landfill managers are turning away the birds, fearing contamination and neighbors&#39; complaints.</p><p>&quot;It is a catastrophe,&quot; said Billy Duplechein, who works with Clean Harbors, the contractor hired by the federal government to do the cleanup. &quot;Nobody wants to see this kind of stuff, but something has to be done.&quot;</p><p>The USDA believes the virus was brought to the Midwest by migratory water fowl via the Mississippi Flyway. But Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has admitted that the ongoing and quick spread could be &quot;laterally spread&quot; by people.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;ve had circumstances recently where folks have been using pond water, for example, to feed and to water their birds. Well, that&#39;s a problem because the pond water could be contaminated,&quot; Vilsack said. &quot;We&#39;ve had situations where folks are supposed to shower before they go into the facility, but the shower doesn&#39;t work, so they go in anyway.&quot;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img 17.="" a="" alt="" are="" at="" been="" bio="" by="" class="image-original_image" daybreak="" designated="" eagle="" edge="" farm="" field="" foods="" getty="" has="" may="" near="" no="" of="" olson="" on="" operated="" posted="" scott="" security="" signs="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/avianflu2.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" the="" title="" which="" /></div><p><a href="http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/about-us/cidrap-staff/michael-t-osterholm-phd-mph">Michael Osterholm</a>, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said the poultry industry is in uncharted territory. The virus is &quot;doing things we&#39;ve never seen it do before,&quot; so scientists&#39; understanding is very limited, he says.</p><p>&quot;Influenza viruses have thought in the past to be transmitted by birds to birds in close contact and that it was only through that kind of transmission that we need to be concerned,&quot; Osterholm says. &quot;Now we surely have a very dynamic situation in the Midwest. It&#39;s also a situation where we no longer can assume it&#39;s just migratory birds.&quot;</p><p>Other theories on the virus&#39;s rapid transmission include small rodents infiltrating facilities, contaminated feed and water or that the virus could even be airborne.</p><p>Vilsack and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad took to the media this week, begging landfills to take the birds before any more can be exposed. Farms are also buying the birds, composting them with wood chips and corn stover and burning them in five large mobile incinerators brought in by Clean Harbors. Officials are also considering taking mobile incinerators from farm to farm.</p><p>Northwest Iowa is hardest hit, thanks to its large egg-laying operations, and workers in white and yellow Tyvek suits, protective gear with a respirator, could be seen discarding the birds from barns.</p><p>Neighbors in the remote rural communities say they have noticed more trucks at the farms. And they&#39;ve certainly noticed the putrid smell.</p><p>Dawn Cronk lives just a mile and a half south of Sunrise Farms, near Harris, Iowa, and drives home at midnight from her job working the late shift at a nursing home.</p><p>&quot;I have the window down and all of a sudden there&#39;s just that distinct dead animal smell,&quot; she says. &quot;And it&#39;s not just one dead animal, it&#39;s like you walked into a ... a decomposing lot. It&#39;s just that strong.&quot;</p><p>A huge incinerator is being set up at the Cherokee County landfill, and officials there plan to fire it up this week and have it burning for 24 hours a day. Although some hold out hope that the outbreak will die down this summer, when its harder for the virus to live in hot temperatures, others guess that states could be cleaning up for months or even years to come.</p><p>&quot;That&#39;s the million-dollar question,&quot; Duplechein says. &quot;We really don&#39;t know.&quot;</p><p><em>This</em>&nbsp;story&nbsp;<em>comes to us via Harvest Public Media.</em></p><p><em>&mdash; via <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/05/21/408306843/avian-flu-outbreak-takes-poultry-producers-into-uncharted-territory">NPR News</a></em></p></p> Thu, 21 May 2015 08:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/avian-flu-outbreak-takes-poultry-producers-uncharted-territory-112067 Emanuel says no 'three-strike rule' over parks for Riot Fest http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/emanuel-says-no-three-strike-rule-over-parks-riot-fest-112064 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/riot fest flickr.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>It looks like Riot Fest has a new home in Chicago.</p><p>Aldermen involved in the back and forth over the music festival&rsquo;s location said that after three years in Humboldt Park, the punk and rock music festival will move this year a few miles away in Douglas Park.</p><p>Many Chicagoans were unhappy with the condition of the West Side park after last summer&rsquo;s festival. Alderman Roberto Maldonado (26) said residents of Humboldt Park and the surrounding neighborhoods have been complaining to him about the state of the grounds ever since concert-goers and organizers left.</p><p>&ldquo;Four Sundays ago...two of the diamonds were unusable for the opening games of the softball league,&rdquo; Maldonado said. &ldquo;The impact to the local economy, although it was substantial the first and second year, the third year it wasn&rsquo;t there.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>So for now, Riot Fest is taking its party elsewhere. In a statement, Riot Fest founder Michael Petryshyn said he met with Ald. George Cardenas (12) about using Douglas Park and was, &ldquo;ecstatic&rdquo; at the response he got from their new aldermanic partner.</p><p>&ldquo;We are so very excited to get to know our new neighbors and to work with them to hold an event that is beneficial to the community, local businesses and the resident,&rdquo; Petryshyn said. &ldquo;Essentially, everything we have brought to Humboldt Park over the last three years.&rdquo;</p><p>After Wednesday&rsquo;s City Council meeting, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he was pleased the festival chose to stay in the city, but issued a warning to organizers: Leave Douglas Park the way you find it.</p><p>&ldquo;They now know the people of Humboldt Park don&rsquo;t want them, I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s in their best interest to have a second park say &lsquo;We don&rsquo;t want you&rsquo; in Chicago,&rdquo; Emanuel told reporters. &ldquo;So they&rsquo;ve been put on notice to be a better citizen in holding this festival because if you go 0-for-2, we don&rsquo;t have a three-strike rule in the city of Chicago for you.&rdquo;</p><p>Ald. Cardenas said the Park District is set to put down a bond as insurance in the event Douglas Park sees some damage.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ political reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em>.</p></p> Wed, 20 May 2015 16:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/emanuel-says-no-three-strike-rule-over-parks-riot-fest-112064 Charters might move into closed CPS schools http://www.wbez.org/news/charters-might-move-closed-cps-schools-112063 <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/panorama.jpg" style="height: 219px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p><em>A LEARN charter school (right) rents space across the street from the now vacant Calhoun North school (left). Chicago Public Schools paid $67,151 in utilities for Calhoun North from Sept. 2013 to July 2014, according to data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act Request. At the same time, CPS pays LEARN $750 per student to offset rent and other facility costs. (WBEZ/Becky Vevea)</em></p><p>There are 40 school buildings <a href="http://cps.edu/Pages/schoolrepurposing.aspx">still sitting vacant</a> across Chicago since the mass closings of 2013. Just two have been sold and the rest cost Chicagoans $2 million annually to maintain.</p><p>These schools are slow to sell for a number of reasons. Many <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/school-closures-only-add-blight-some-chicago-neighborhoods-107345">aren&rsquo;t in thriving neighborhoods</a>. The buildings are old. There aren&rsquo;t a lot of obvious alternate uses.</p><p>But one big reason the empty schools continue to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/visit-shuttered-chicago-school-shows-all-that%E2%80%99s-left-behind-108419">collect dust</a> and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/vacant-schools-philadelphia-cautionary-tale-chicago-105570">fall into disrepair</a> is this: CPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-training-academy-cooperating-federal-investigation-district-111891">currently on leave</a>, made a promise that eliminated a whole group of potential buyers.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Map: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/charters-might-move-closed-cps-schools-112063#map" target="_blank">How close are charter schools to vacant CPS buildings?</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;We currently cannot sell any of the properties to a charter school,&rdquo; said Mike Nardini, the district&rsquo;s real estate agent. &ldquo;Does it limit our buyers? Only to the extent that it can&rsquo;t be a charter any more than it could be a nightclub.&rdquo;</p><p>The promise made sense at the time considering one of the main arguments for shutting down 50 schools was to downsize the district. CPS officials argued the school system was operating inefficiently with too many schools and not enough students enrolled.</p><p>But the Chicago Board of Education <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-approves-seven-new-charter-schools-109558">continues to authorize new charter schools</a>. In the past, charters often <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/mapping-10-years-school-closures">moved into closed school buildings</a>, but that upset many community people, who saw the publicly financed, privately operated charters as replacing traditional neighborhood schools.</p><p>CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said Wednesday the Board could be convinced to change its mind.</p><p>&ldquo;If a community were to determine that they do want a charter school in that closed site, then that is something that we would consider,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>McCaffrey was very careful to say officials would break the promise only if the community supports it, not because it might save money.</p><p>&ldquo;Our first consideration isn&rsquo;t the financial implication,&rdquo; he added.</p><p>But saving money is <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-cps-budget-crisis-met-20150422-story.html#page=1">the biggest problem</a> CPS has right now, and the &lsquo;no-charter&rsquo; promise complicates things. Charter schools that are in private buildings currently get $750 per student from CPS to offset rent and other maintenance costs. This is commonly known as a &ldquo;facilities reimbursement.&rdquo; &nbsp;And while these real estate deals can be complicated, the bottom line is that Chicago taxpayers end up paying extra to charter schools who are forced to rent on the private market. &nbsp;And those same taxpayers also are paying to maintain buildings the city already owns, but isn&rsquo;t using.</p><p>&ldquo;These are assets that we have in our city that are paid for typically and what we don&rsquo;t need are more vacant buildings,&rdquo; said Andrew Broy, executive director of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.</p><p>In many cases, the charters and the vacant buildings are just blocks away from one another. In Garfield Park, a LEARN charter school rents space across the street from the now vacant Calhoun North school. In Woodlawn, a University of Chicago Charter School is planning to <a href="http://hpherald.com/2015/03/09/u-of-c-planning-new-building-for-woodlawn-charter-school/">build a brand new school</a> on a plot of land right next to a CPS-owned building where it currently operates.</p><p>It all speaks to a very basic and fundamental question that no one&mdash;CPS, the mayor, city aldermen&mdash;has grappled with: Exactly how many public schools does Chicago need? And where should they be?</p><p>When asked after Wednesday&rsquo;s City Council meeting, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that&rsquo;s not his job.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s something CPS will do based on the student population, patterns of growth,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s a fair question, but not the only question. Are the schools that are open achieving educational excellence?&rdquo;</p><p>CPS is holding public hearings Thursday night on <a href="http://cps.edu/Calendar/Documents/05212015_MMAPublicHearing.pdf">new requests</a> by charter schools to move to different locations. Most have plans to move into private buildings, but at least one, <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-charter-school-closed-building-met-20150520-story.html">The Chicago Tribune reports</a>, wants to move into the closed Peabody Elementary school on the West Side. Peabody <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-school-closing-brief-met-20141022-story.html">was sold last fall</a>.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.<a name="map"></a></em></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="800" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/maps/charterbuildings" style="float: right; clear: right;" width="620"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 20 May 2015 14:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/charters-might-move-closed-cps-schools-112063 The unsung hero of urban planning who made it easy to get around Chicago http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/unsung-hero-urban-planning-who-made-it-easy-get-around-chicago-112061 <p><p>Jessica Fisch and Paul Toben are engaged to be married this fall. But before the two new arrivals to Chicago start a new life in a new home, they want to solve a mystery with roots in the city&rsquo;s early history.</p><p>Toben and Fisch bought a house in the Edgewater neighborhood last year, and they&rsquo;ve been fixing it up since. But they discovered something odd about the address displayed on their siding.</p><p>&ldquo;It was underneath the vinyl siding that was here before and it shows our current house number, which is very visible,&rdquo; says Toben, pointing to metal numbers nailed into the wood slat. It spells out 1761. &ldquo;But then two boards below, there&#39;s a sort of ghosted, painted-over paint.&rdquo;</p><p>That number, barely visible in the 110-year-old wood, reads 615.</p><p>&ldquo;We want to know when we went from 615 to 1761,&rdquo; says Fisch. She and Toben asked Curious City:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;Where did the old number come from? When and why did they renumber the streets?&rdquo;</em></p><p>Fisch and Toben aren&rsquo;t the only Chicagoans with two house numbers &mdash; in fact, any building in the city built before 1909 probably had a different number than it does now.</p><p>These are the result of a massive shift in how the city handles street names and addresses. Today Chicago is known for having one of the simplest street systems of any big city in the world, with every address emanating out from a central origin point at the intersection of State &amp; Madison Streets. It wasn&rsquo;t always going to be that way, though, and many people fought the change. But Edward Paul Brennan, an unsung hero of urban planning, spent much of his life taming the navigational chaos of Chicago&rsquo;s adolescence, and his legacy lives on more than a century later &mdash; even if few people know his name.</p><p>So answering the &ldquo;when&rdquo; of our questioners&rsquo; inquiry is easy: September 1, 1909. But to answer &ldquo;why,&rdquo; we need to go back to some early Chicago history, when a map of the city looked very different.</p><p><strong>The expanding city</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583" target="_blank">Chicago was booming in the late 19th century, gobbling up neighboring towns and annexing them as new neighborhoods of the city</a>. Hundreds of thousands of European immigrants poured into the city, helping triple the city&rsquo;s population between 1880 and 1910. It ballooned in both population and physical size, quadrupling in area in 1889 alone.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/CityLimits/cityLimitsGIF.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chicago%20grow%20graphic.jpg" style="height: 356px; width: 620px;" title="Chicago's population grew tremendously throughout the mid-to-late 19th century. There was hardly an effort to standardize street names and addresses until Edward Paul Brennan came up with a plan. (Click to watch animation of how Chicago grew)." /></a></div><p>&ldquo;That was great for those communities because they got the promise of a good infrastructure, but it also created logistical problems obviously for managing a city that size,&rdquo; says Andrew Oleksiuk, secretary of the Illinois Postal History Society.</p><p>Every town that folded into Chicago, from Lake View to Hyde Park, had its own system for naming and numbering streets. Some towns counted out addresses starting from the Chicago River, while others started from Lake Michigan. Some placed even numbers on the north side of the street, others put them on the south. Some even let developers choose their own street names or numbers if there wasn&rsquo;t a lot of local opposition.</p><p>Oleksiuk says the topsy-turvy numbering system contributed to mailmen&rsquo;s struggle to keep up with changing tech, such as the telegraph, streetcars and a new entrant: the telephone.</p><p>&ldquo;The post office really did see itself as being challenged by these new technologies,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;So doing something like straightening out the numbering system and making it more efficient for mail delivery made them able to compete better in this world of new technologies.&rdquo;</p><p>As city limits swallowed up existing towns, no one bothered to standardize street names and addresses. Not surprisingly, this system frustrated Colonel LeRoy D. Steward, superintendent of city delivery for the Chicago post office, who spoke at an Industrial Club meeting in April 1908.</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Chicago is suffering from improper mail delivery because of improper street arrangement. ... At present there are 125 towns within the city limits, and all have local street names and numbers. At present there are 511 streets of practically duplicate names. No one knows how many duplicate street numbers there are.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>In a later speech Steward asked: &ldquo;What is the use of spending large sums in beautifying the city when one cannot find one&rsquo;s way about it?&rdquo;</p><p>Such critiques emerged alongside the so-called <a href="http://xroads.virginia.edu/~cap/citybeautiful/city.html" target="_blank">City Beautiful movement</a>, whose proponents believed societal ills would evaporate with the development of rationally designed cities. Private groups like the <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/290.html" target="_blank">City Club</a> and the <a href="http://www.commercialclubchicago.org/" target="_blank">Commercial Club</a> banded together to improve the city, promoting ideas like <a href="http://burnhamplan100.lib.uchicago.edu/history_future/plan_of_chicago/" target="_blank">Daniel Burnham&rsquo;s famous Plan of Chicago</a>, which was published in 1909 &mdash; the same year Brennan&rsquo;s system for rationalizing city addresses first took effect. Celebrated architects and engineers built the Loop, standardized the city&rsquo;s cable car system and carved out green spaces that we still use today. But the elegance of our street system is taken for granted.</p><p><strong>New solutions from a man with a plan</strong></p><p>It wasn&rsquo;t a postal worker or even an urban planner that smoothed out the system. It was a man named Edward Paul Brennan.</p><p>Brennan was a delivery boy for his father&rsquo;s grocery store, and later a bill collector for the music company Lyon &amp; Healy. He was so frustrated with the chaos of Chicago&rsquo;s address system that in 1901 he came up with his own. But it would take him years to get it implemented.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Brennan 1910 courtesy Adelaide Brennan.jpg" style="height: 385px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Edward Paul Brennan in 1910, who devoted his life to crafting a perfect plan for Chicago street nomenclature. (Photo courtesy Adelaide Brennan)" /></div><p>Brennan wasn&rsquo;t the first person to recognize the problem, but he was the most persistent at arguing for a solution. As early as 1879, the <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> reported on an ordinance for renumbering South Side streets based on Philadelphia&rsquo;s plan, where addresses increased by 100 with every block. It didn&rsquo;t pass.</p><p>&ldquo;His daughter told me that when he was delivering groceries for his father. Before he was even a bill collector, he was running into this problem,&rdquo; says Patrick Reardon, an author and journalist who has researched the history of Chicago&rsquo;s street grid. &ldquo;So this was not something that Brennan uncovered &mdash; it was what everybody lived with. It was like snow in the winter &mdash; it was just part of the nature of the city.&rdquo;</p><p>But Brennan wouldn&rsquo;t accept the status quo. Beginning in the 1890s he started a scrapbook, collecting newspaper articles about problems with city navigation or delays due to address confusion. Articles had headlines like &ldquo;Streets in a Tangle. Visitors Lost.&rdquo; One report tells about a doctor who couldn&rsquo;t find a patient during a house call emergency. Brennan lobbied business leaders and newspaper editors for decades, needling them with letters that began like this one:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Dear Sir, Do you think a city should have two streets with the same name? Do you think a city should have one street with two or three, or even ten names? You agree that such naming of streets is ridiculous and an insult to the intelligence of any city. Yet Chicago, your city, has hundreds of such streets. This confusion costs you and the other citizens of Chicago hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. &hellip;&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Like many Progressive Era activists, Brennan was motivated by the spirit of the time, devoting his life to crafting &ldquo;a perfect plan for Chicago street nomenclature.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;So let us go forward with the spirit that built the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/your-ticket-white-city-108994" target="_blank">World&rsquo;s Fair</a>, correct our error and present the people of Chicago with a perfect house numbering plan,&rdquo; he said in one of many letters lobbying Chicago aldermen and local business leaders.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Thompson_Chicago_plat_1830.jpg" style="height: 491px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="James Thompson's plat map of Chicago, 1830. (Wikimedia Commons)" />Brennan&rsquo;s plan benefitted from the grid system laid out by James Thompson&rsquo;s official plat map for the city in 1830. Because of the regular spacing of Chicago&rsquo;s city blocks, the continuation of the grid despite any geographic features, and the absence of curved roads, Brennan&rsquo;s 1901 plan could be highly logical and mathematical. &ldquo;In this way,&rdquo; Brennan wrote, &ldquo;the numbers will indicate the locality at a glance.&rdquo;</p><p>With the help of an independent alderman named Charlie Byrne (who happened to be Brennan&rsquo;s cousin) he presented his &ldquo;Street Nomenclature Plan&rdquo; to the City Council in 1901. It included four big ideas: All addresses would be centered around a 0,0 point at State and Madison Streets; street names would include the direction; even-numbered addresses would always be on the west and north sides of any street, with odd numbers on the east and south sides; house numbers would increase by 800 (or 8 blocks) every mile, although Brennan had originally proposed 1000 addresses per mile.</p><p>Brennan&rsquo;s plan would also involve renaming many streets in order to cut confusion caused by duplication and other problems.</p><p>After his initial proposal, Brennan argued that Kinzie and State should instead be the new 0,0 baseline street, in honor of early settler John Kinzie. Alternate plans from other map enthusiasts proposed Western and Madison, because of its proximity to the geographic center of the growing city.</p><p><strong>A new address for every house in town</strong></p><p>After more than seven years of petitioning, the City Council passed Brennan&rsquo;s house numbering plan in 1908 and it went into effect on September 1, 1909. Businesses within the Loop fought the change early on, arguing that &mdash; among other things &mdash; it would cost too much to reprint their stationery. They received an extra two years to adopt the same system as the rest of the city.</p><p>The process of converting the address of nearly every household in Chicago was a daunting task. Newspaper accounts in the days and weeks leading up to the mandatory changes indicate confusion, resignation, and also humor. City directories published maps and thick new guides that residents and businesses could purchase, listing every old address and its new equivalent. Residents sent illustrated postcards with poems or cartoons to friends, notifying them of the change.</p><p>&ldquo;If you had your Aunt Matilda in Kansas who&#39;s sending you a letter, she doesn&#39;t necessarily know about the re-numbering system,&rdquo; says Oleksiuk. &ldquo;You have to write her a letter to tell her, &lsquo;My new address is such and such.&rsquo; &lsquo;Oh you moved?&rsquo; &lsquo;No I didn&#39;t. They&#39;re just re-numbering the streets.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Trouble lived beyond the initial confusion, though, as some people actively fought the change.</p><p>&ldquo;There were people who saw what [Brennan] was doing and what the city was doing in changing street names as meddling with the historic nature of their streets,&rdquo; says Reardon. &ldquo;So it was not a simple or an uncontroversial thing.&rdquo;</p><table border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="width: 620px;"><tbody><tr><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/1.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/old_residence_1_thumb.jpg" style="height: 203px; width: 203px;" title="" /></a></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/5.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mailman_newspaperclip_6_thumb.jpg" title="" /></a></div></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/3.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/town_5_thumb.jpg" title="" /></a></div></div></td></tr><tr><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/2.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/newhomenumber_3_thumb.jpg" style="height: 203px; width: 203px;" title="" /></a></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/4.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sameoldhammock_4_thumb.jpg" style="height: 203px; width: 203px;" title="" /></a></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/6.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mayor_newspaperclip_7_thumb.jpg" title="" /></a></div></td></tr></tbody></table><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:10px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Above: Postcards and newspaper clippings show the humor and confusion the city felt after the house number changes. Click on an image for large view.</span></span></p><p>Some residents banded together, lobbied their aldermen, and fought the city&rsquo;s proposed street name changes.</p><p>Under Brennan&rsquo;s plan, the tiny streets of Arlington Place and Deming Place in Lincoln Park should have been renamed as Montana Street and Lill Avenue, because they aligned east to west with those longer streets, despite not having a continuous block of streets.</p><p>&ldquo;Deming Place and Arlington Place residents joined Bellevue Place residents yesterday in expressing indignation at the cold-bloodedness of the council committee on street nomenclature which has threatened to rob them all of their euphonious titles.&rdquo; &mdash; <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em>, Dec. 19, 1908</p><p>Others in the city were upset that they were losing a familiar house number. Mrs. Charles E. Pope, a resident along Chicago&rsquo;s Lake Shore Drive, wrote to the <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> in early 1909:</p><p>&ldquo;Really, I don&rsquo;t see how we shall be able to bear the burden of four numbers after being used to only two. Besides, most of us have lived here many years, and we don&rsquo;t like to see things changed.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.chsmedia.org/househistory/1909snc/start.PDF" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/map%20showing%20house%20number%20cutout.PNG" style="height: 153px; width: 220px; float: right;" title="Click for full document of Chicago's 1909 street name and number changes." /></a>But even after the city-wide address renumbering, Brennan&rsquo;s work wasn&rsquo;t done. For the next 30 years he rooted out duplicate street names and inconsistencies, lobbying incessantly as part of the City Club&rsquo;s two-man Street Nomenclature Committee.</p><p>Brennan didn&rsquo;t get everything he wanted. He publicly lamented when aldermen wouldn&rsquo;t take his suggestions for new street names, all of which he said should reference &ldquo;meaningful&rdquo; things like art, literature, history, poetry, and &ldquo;illustrious names from many foreign lands.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It is for us of the present day to continue the work so well begun by the pioneers of Chicago instead of being looked upon as iconoclasts by future generations,&rdquo; he said in 1913. &quot;With a history rich in meaningful names there will be no need of our innocent thoroughfares being rechristened Hinton, Dunmore, Dennison, Empire, or Limerick.&quot;</p><p>As always for Brennan, it was a matter of historic importance.</p><p>&quot;We are about to do something which will last as long as Chicago does,&rdquo; he wrote.</p><p><strong>Brennan&rsquo;s legacy</strong></p><p>After the initial disruption caused by the changes, Chicagoans eventually appreciated the relative simplicity of the city&#39;s new street names and addresses. But Brennan&rsquo;s name was largely forgotten in the years after his death in 1942. His daughters wrote to newspaper editors and the city&rsquo;s map department attempting to have their father&rsquo;s work recognized.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Five years later, City Council named a South Side street in his honor: South Brennan Avenue runs from 96th Street south to 98th Street in the Jeffery Manor neighborhood. At the time the city publicly acknowledged the elegance of Brennan&rsquo;s system, noting &ldquo;There are now fewer street names in Chicago than in any other city in the country of even one-half the area of Chicago.&quot; Chicago had 3,629 miles of streets with just 1,370 names &mdash; far fewer than other cities with smaller geographical footprints at the time: New York (5,003), Baltimore (3,929), or Cleveland (2,199).</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</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/honorary%20brennan.jpg" title="Today, Brennan's got an honorary street named after him at the intersection of State and Madison Streets, the city's 0,0 point. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></div></div><p>Every time Chicagoans navigate the 227 square miles of their city, they&rsquo;re unwittingly perpetuating Brennan&rsquo;s legacy. But until recently one of the only explicit reminders of the man himself was a collection of weathered scrapbooks he carefully collected, which was placed in the care of the Chicago History Museum by Mary Brennan, one of his daughters.</p><p>Another daughter, Adelaide, lived to the age of 99 and was able <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-08-25/opinion/ct-perspec-0825-madison-20130825_1_south-branch-north-branch-chicago-river" target="_blank">to see Ald. Brendan Reilly dedicate the northwest corner of State and Madison as Edward Brennan Way</a> in 2013.</p><p>Still, few people recognize the name of the man instrumental in rationalizing Chicago&rsquo;s streets. Compare that to the fate of Daniel Burnham.</p><p>&ldquo;Edward Paul Brennan was the man who, in my mind, is comparable to Daniel Burnham,&rdquo; says Patrick Reardon. &ldquo;Burnham had the Plan of Chicago, which was set up to change the landscape, the physical landscape of the city. Edward Brennan changed the mental landscape of the city.&rdquo;</p><p>And that mental landscape persists today. Since Brennan&rsquo;s system is universal across the city, with 800 numbers to a mile, Chicagoans still use that same mental landscape to get around their city.</p><p>Raphael Nash was born in the West Side&rsquo;s Austin neighborhood, but has lived all over the city. He had to learn Brennan&rsquo;s system, even if he didn&rsquo;t know it was Brennan&rsquo;s.</p><p>And even though most people today use a GPS to get around, Nash says it&rsquo;s useful to have a mental map as precise as Brennan&rsquo;s.</p><p>&ldquo;Sometimes I&#39;m driving and I don&#39;t need to be fumbling with the phone or anything so I just look up and pay attention to the number,&rdquo; Nash says.</p><p>Brennan&rsquo;s system is so simple that Nash and several other Chicagoans interviewed for this story say it has ruined them for other cities.</p><p>&ldquo;When I spent time on the East Coast I learned cities like Boston, which is just a mess. I was like OK, we had order,&rdquo; says Nash. &ldquo;And when I came back home was I was like, &lsquo;wow this is really easy.&rsquo; I don&rsquo;t know why I never paid attention to it.&rdquo;</p><p>Now Nash knows who to thank for that.</p><p>&ldquo;Thank you, Mr. Brennan,&rdquo; he says.</p><p><strong>Who inspired our question?</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/toben%20_%20fisch1%20%281%29%202.jpg" style="height: 434px; width: 620px;" title="Paul Toben, left, and Jessica Fisch, right, discovered their old house number while fixing up the place they recently bought in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></p><p>We have several questioners to thank for inspiring this look into the city&rsquo;s rational street-numbering system. Jessica Fisch and Paul Toben started us off, but so did Marina Post, a Chicago homeowner.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/post6%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="height: 484px; width: 270px; float: right;" title="Marina Post asked us a similar question about her home in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" />Post wondered why her 1890s home in Wicker Park (today 2146 W. Caton St.) was one of several homes in the neighborhood with stained glass windows displaying lower, outdated address numbers. Post&rsquo;s is 51.</p><p>&ldquo;I can imagine it would feel somewhat demeaning to go from 51, which feels kind of exclusive,&rdquo; Post says, &ldquo;to 2146, which just makes you feel like you&#39;re one of the masses somehow. I could imagine if I were living at that time I would feel attached to my number.&rdquo;</p><p>She may as well have been talking about Mrs. Charles E. Pope, who complained about &ldquo;the burden of four numbers&rdquo; to the <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> during the address change. In fact we might owe our questioners&rsquo; curiosity to those stubborn homeowners from the early 20th century who kept their old house numbers beside the new, standardized addresses under Brennan&rsquo;s plan. Without them we wouldn&rsquo;t have the physical evidence of the pre-1909 system &mdash; or lack thereof &mdash; that piqued the interest of people like Paul Toben, Jessica Fisch and Marina Post.</p><p><em><a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">Chris Bentley is a freelance journalist</a> who reports regularly for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City. Follow him at <a href="http://cabentley.com/">cabentley.com</a> and on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>. Jen Masengarb is Director of Interpretation and Research at the <a href="http://www.architecture.org/" target="_blank">Chicago Architecture Foundation</a>. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/jmasengarb" target="_blank">@jmasengarb</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 20 May 2015 12:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/unsung-hero-urban-planning-who-made-it-easy-get-around-chicago-112061 Expert panel criticizes medical care at Illinois prisons http://www.wbez.org/news/expert-panel-criticizes-medical-care-illinois-prisons-112058 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/prisoncellfile_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A scathing report by court-approved researchers released on Tuesday paints a bleak picture of medical care in Illinois prisons, describing treatment delays, haphazard follow-up care, chaotic record keeping and a litany of other problems that may have cut short the lives of some inmates.</p><p>The 405-page report, which the Illinois Department of Corrections immediately disputed, was filed late Tuesday night in U.S. District Court in Chicago in a class-action suit against the agency, which oversees 49,000 inmates statewide. The report concludes that &quot;Illinois has been unable to meet minimal constitutional standards with regards to the adequacy of its health care program.&quot;</p><p>Within minutes of the filing, the Department of Corrections &nbsp;issued a brief statement saying the report &quot;uses a broad brush to paint an incomplete picture of the comprehensive medical system in place&quot; at prisons statewide. It added that the authors should not have drawn the sweeping conclusions they did after visiting just eight of 25 Illinois prison facilities.</p><p>When WBEZ asked why the public should trust the department over independent experts a department spokeswoman declined further comment.</p><p>The panel of experts, all of whom the Department of Corrections agreed in filings were qualified, also scrutinized a sample of 63 Illinois prisoner deaths from illness in recent years and found &quot;significant lapses&quot; in care in 60 percent of those cases. Their report called that percentage of prisoners who received shoddy care &quot;unacceptably high.&quot;</p><p>The report cited multiple individual cases, including that of a 48-year-old prisoner who pleaded for medical help after he began feeling chest pain and coughing up blood. But the report said it took six months for doctors at the Hill Correctional Center in Galesburg to locate a softball-size cancerous tumor clinging to his neck area and lung. But it was too late, and he died four months later on Jan. 30, 2013, according to the report.</p><p>&quot;The blatant disregard for this patient&#39;s obvious symptoms ... is stunning,&quot; the report said. &quot;Despite the patient&#39;s repeated earnest cries for help, including several instances wherein he was essentially stating, &#39;I think I have cancer,&#39; his symptoms were brushed off ... until ... this dying man could no longer be ignored.&quot;</p><p>Researchers singled out Dixon Correctional Center for being an &ldquo;extreme&rdquo; example of lacking leadership. Dixon had &ldquo;a vacant healthcare unit administrator position and a vacant director of nursing position&rdquo; when the researchers visited. &nbsp;</p><p>The Rev. Doris Green&rsquo;s husband Michael Smith <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/natural-causes-death-illinois-prisons-110455">died at Dixon in 2011 of untreated cancer.</a></p><p>&ldquo;I can almost see my husband&rsquo;s face in this one because I know what I went through &hellip; trying to help him live long enough for me to take my grandkids down to see him,&rdquo; Green said of the report.</p><p>She said the critical report confirms what she&rsquo;s been saying since her husband&rsquo;s death.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m almost in tears again because sometimes you feel like you&rsquo;re kinda like out there on an island yourself, but I knew I wasn&rsquo;t by myself because I knew &nbsp;many, many people were dying in prison,&rdquo; Green said.</p><p>WBEZ has <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-prison-health-care-lawsuit-getting-boost-aclu-107446">long reported</a> on poor health care in Illinois prisons, where the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-inmate-dies-3-hours-after-seeking-medical-care-110460">failures can be fatal</a> or <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-inmate-says-he-lost-60-pounds-when-broken-jaw-was-untreated-8-weeks-102852">simply cruel</a>.</p><p>In addition to the prison visits, the researchers also examined thousands of records the corrections department made available to them.</p><p>Inmates, even those imprisoned for murder, are entitled to better care, said Benjamin Wolf, a plaintiffs&#39; attorney who is also chief legal counsel of the ACLU of Illinois, which joined the lawsuit in 2013.</p><p>&quot;The measure of justice of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable, including prisoners,&quot; Wolf said. &quot;No one sentenced these guys to suffer and die of inadequate health care.&quot;</p><p>Inmate Don Lippert, a diabetic, brought the civil suit in 2010 that led to the new report. His complaint contends that &quot;deliberate indifference&quot; about inmates&#39; medical care violates Eighth Amendment prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment. Prison officials have denied that allegation.</p><p>Plaintiffs argued that part of the blame lies with Wexford Health Services, Inc., one of the named defendants. The state of Illinois in 2011 awarded a ten-year contract worth more than $1.3 billion to provide healthcare to Illinois&#39; adult inmates, according to Wexford&#39;s website.</p><p>The plaintiffs&#39; complaint says Illinois pays Wexford a per-prisoner fee and &quot;thus has an economic incentive to provide minimal care.&quot;</p><p>Wexford has denied the lawsuit allegations in earlier filings. Wexford did not respond to requests for comment.</p><p>Jennifer Vollen-Katz, the executive director of prison watchdog John Howard Association, said the report shows that the state needs to do a better job of oversight.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re paying them well over a billion dollars... to provide medical care to the people in their custody. And if they&rsquo;re not doing it or if they&rsquo;re not doing it well I think the Illinois Department of Corrections needs to know that and get somebody in there who can do it,&rdquo; Vollen-Katz said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s on [IDOC] to be watching &nbsp;what is going on in the facilities by these providers.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Vollen-Katz said the report is another example that the grievance system in the state&rsquo;s prisons needs to be fixed. And she said it shows a need for an independent medical ombudsman for the department, through which inmates can file grievances specifically related to poor health care.</p><p>Green echoed Vollen-Katz&rsquo;s call for an outside monitor.</p><p>&ldquo;Someone should be overseeing and monitoring medical care for those that are incarcerated &hellip; community people need to get involved,&rdquo; Green said. &ldquo;There should be some type of committee &hellip; because for so long no one knew. Only family members that had loved ones that were dying, and some of them felt hopeless.&rdquo;</p><p><em>WBEZ&#39;s Patrick Smith contributed to this report</em></p></p> Wed, 20 May 2015 08:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/expert-panel-criticizes-medical-care-illinois-prisons-112058 'Lifebooks' help kids in foster care track their history http://www.wbez.org/news/lifebooks-help-kids-foster-care-track-their-history-112056 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/samplepage.PNG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-bda242b5-6e5f-ad4c-c29a-cae2bddb31ff">Lacy is eight years old, though that&rsquo;s not her real name. Lacy&rsquo;s adoptive mom, Rebecca McClintock, asked us to disguise her daughter&rsquo;s identity because we&rsquo;re going to be talking about her past, and a lot of it is painful.</p><p dir="ltr">Lacy came to live with McClintock as a foster child about a year and a half ago. McClintock said she got a call from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in the middle of the afternoon.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;She&rsquo;s been in a foster home that wasn&rsquo;t working out and they needed to pull her from there quickly. And three hours later she was on my doorstep with her little tiny Winnie the Pooh suitcase and a caseworker and a piece of pizza,&rdquo; McClintock remembers.</p><p dir="ltr">McClintock&rsquo;s flat in La Grange, Ill., was Lacy&rsquo;s fourth home in just six years.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;She remembered the last home, but not anything before that. And so she defined herself by that family and their treatment of her, and came in a lot talking about how nobody could love her and she wasn&rsquo;t worth anything and they should just throw her in the trash because nobody really needed her,&rdquo; McClintock says.</p><p dir="ltr">When I visited McClintock and Lacy at home last month, I tried to ask Lacy about that family, but she burst out crying and ran to hide under the covers of her mom&rsquo;s bed.</p><p dir="ltr">McClintock said Lacy&rsquo;s foster parents were abusive, and she has bad memories. And those can be really hard to talk about, especially for a little kid. One thing that&rsquo;s helped Lacy open up, and helped Lacy and McClintock grow closer, is something called a Lifebook.</p><p dir="ltr">One of the more popular versions of the Lifebook is published by <a href="http://www.lssi.org/">Lutheran Social Services of Illinois</a> - or LSSI.</p><p dir="ltr">Ruth Jajko is in charge of child welfare in Cook County for LSSI. I visited her at her office in Des Plaines, Ill., and she showed me an example of the book they use with the thousands of kids they work with in Illinois.</p><p dir="ltr">The binder she showed me looked a lot like a baby book. It&rsquo;s a collection of pictures, mementos and memories--the sorts of things that people who grew up with their birth parents might find tucked away in a box in the closet, or hear about from their mom or dad around the dinner table.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Lifebooks are a place to collect bits of history like that, but there&rsquo;s another purpose: The books are designed &nbsp;to give kids a way to talk about the trauma they&rsquo;ve been through. Like, at the top of one page is this prompt: &nbsp;&ldquo;Why I don&rsquo;t live with my birth parents anymore.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Below that is a heartbreaking list of options for the child to select.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It feels stark, right? [But] this page if you notice doesn&rsquo;t come at the beginning, there&rsquo;s been a lot of moving up to it,&rdquo; Jajko says.</p><p dir="ltr">About six months after Lacy came to live with McClintock, the two of them started working on a Lifebook with a woman from LSSI. McClintock says she was like a &ldquo;great detective.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;She brought us letters from the first two foster homes, and the letters talked about how she as a little tiny baby would always scooch and put her head in the corner of the crib and she would sleep in the corner of the crib.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">McClintock says those little details meant the world to Lacy.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t hear anymore that nobody loved her, because she had proof that people did when she was just a few days old,&rdquo; McClintock says.</p><p dir="ltr">And It&rsquo;s real, intimate details like that that get lost for foster kids, especially ones like Lacy who are bounced around a lot.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;One of the things that&rsquo;s true about the system in Illinois is that we have a low rate of removal, meaning we don&rsquo;t bring that many kids into care.&hellip; But once we get kids into foster care we don&rsquo;t do a very good job as a state of getting them into permanency quickly, so kids tend to languish in the system too long in Illinois,&rdquo; Jajko says. &ldquo;So that means they have an extended period of time when they&rsquo;re in this kind of limbo status. &ldquo;</p><p dir="ltr">That&#39;s a critical, ongoing issue for the state, and no one&#39;s pretending lifebooks will solve that problem. But Jajko says the books can help kids grow up whole despite the turmoil.</p><p dir="ltr">And recently, Rachael Kerrick with DCFS said the department is spending about $450,000 to buy a Lifebook for every kid in the foster care system.</p><p dir="ltr">Kerrick said the Lifebook has long been a part of best practices for the agency, but they are re-emphasizing its importance and value to the workers in the field.</p><p dir="ltr">And this is the first time the department has spent the money to buy a uniform book for every kid.</p><p dir="ltr">When I told Jeanne Howard about the department&rsquo;s plan, she said she said &ldquo;Hallelujah.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Howard used to run the Center for Adoption Studies at Illinois State University. She says the only way for a child not to be haunted by her past is to confront it, and the Lifebook helps kids do just that.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Children who&rsquo;ve experienced trauma re-live it every day. Every minute of every day,&rdquo; she says.</p><p dir="ltr">And Howard says children are natural storytellers.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;So when we don&rsquo;t give a kid &nbsp;information, they turn it into a story. And usually that story is about themselves. It&rsquo;s about I was such a bad baby and I cried so much that my mommy hit me and I had to be taken away,&rdquo; Howard explains.</p><p dir="ltr">Lacy&rsquo;s adoption became official in February, and McClintock says she&rsquo;s starting to trust that this is her permanent home. The two of them are forming a family together. And it&rsquo;s being built on a foundation with a little more knowledge of Lacy&rsquo;s early years.</p><p>For most people, birth parents are the keepers of their stories. Jeanne Howard says when the state takes over as a child&rsquo;s guardian, one of its fundamental responsibilities is to be a keeper of that child&rsquo;s story. To save it for them until they are ready to confront it, and explain it to them in a way that helps them grow and prosper.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/pksmid">@pksmid</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 19 May 2015 17:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/lifebooks-help-kids-foster-care-track-their-history-112056