WBEZ | News http://www.wbez.org/news Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en How do you find high school dropouts? http://www.wbez.org/news/how-do-you-find-high-school-dropouts-110816 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/pathways.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a bunch of promises three years ago when he was running for office&mdash;especially when it came to education.</p><p>He&rsquo;s checked off some of them &ndash; a longer school day, more preschool, a focus on principals.<br />But now his administration is ramping up attention to one the stickiest challenges: re-enrolling the city&rsquo;s more than 50,000 dropouts.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Grassroots efforts</span></p><p>For years--long before Emanuel pushed for a systematic way of enrolling dropouts--Pa Joof has been taking a shoe-leather approach to getting students back in school.</p><p>Joof is the head of Winnie Mandela, an alternative high school on 78th and Jeffrey in the city&rsquo;s South Shore neighborhood. Mandela is one of four schools run by Prologue Inc., a non-profit founded in 1973 to help disadvantaged neighborhoods. Prologue started running alternative schools for Chicago Public Schools in 1995.&nbsp;</p><p>On the first day of school, WBEZ visited Winnie Mandela High School to watch Joof and his team at work.</p><p>&ldquo;This is the little van that we use for basketball games,&rdquo; Joof tells me over the rumble of the van&rsquo;s engine starting up. It&rsquo;s almost lunchtime and he&rsquo;s about to hit the streets with two of the school&rsquo;s security guards--Dominick Muldrow and Dessie McGee--who double as recruiters and mentors.</p><p>&ldquo;We get the flyers and we put them up there,&rdquo; Joof explains. &ldquo;We know the corners that [kids are on], the areas that they go to.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Like the ones walking there,&rdquo; McGee says, pointing out the van&rsquo;s backseat window.</p><p>&ldquo;What&rsquo;s happening? Today is the first day of school man, what&rsquo;s happening?&rdquo; Joof shouts out the window.<br />&ldquo;Ya&rsquo;ll registered for school?&rdquo; Muldrow asks.<br />&ldquo;He&rsquo;s 24!&rdquo; says one of the two men on the sidewalk.<br />&ldquo;Ah, he don&rsquo;t look that old,&rdquo; Muldrow says<br />&ldquo;Maybe you all know someone that&rsquo;s trying to get back in?&rdquo; McGee says, leaning to the front seat window to hand the men flyers about the school. &ldquo;Share these flyers with them.&rdquo;<br />&ldquo;This a high school?&rdquo; one of the men asks.<br />&ldquo;Yeah, right on 78th and Jeffrey,&rdquo; McGee replies.<br />&ldquo;My little brother, we&rsquo;re trying to get him back in there,&rdquo; the man says. &ldquo;He got like six credits, no, three. We&rsquo;re trying to get him back in. What ages?&rdquo;<br />&ldquo;Seventeen to twenty-one!&rdquo; McGee says.</p><p>That&rsquo;s the age range when kids can still re-enroll in high school, according to CPS. When Emanuel took office in 2011, CPS ran the numbers to find out exactly how many students had dropped off the attendance rolls before graduating, but were between 13 and 21. The number was close to 60,000.</p><p>During his first 100 days in office, Emanuel&rsquo;s directive was clear: find those kids and get them back to class.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A systematic approach</span></p><p>Molly Burke is leading the district&rsquo;s Student Outreach and Re-Engagement program, or SOAR.</p><p>&ldquo;This is the first program we have where we&rsquo;ve gotten a list of all the dropouts and proactively gone after them,&rdquo; Burke says, echoing what her predecessor told WBEZ in 2011.</p><p>The effort pulls data from the district&rsquo;s student records system to identify kids who have left school before graduating in the last few years.<br />&ldquo;Throughout the summer, they had a list that were all the students that dropped last year and the year before,&rdquo; Burke explains. &ldquo;So we went after those students who weren&rsquo;t active at the end of last school year. And now that school starts, they start to get the list of the kids that have dropped or who did not arrive.&rdquo;</p><p>District officials formally announced the SOAR program last year and with it, three official re-enrollment centers were opened. Sean Smith oversees the SOAR centers, located in Little Village, Roseland and Garfield Park.</p><p>So far, 1,700 students have come through the SOAR centers and 130 have already gotten their high school diplomas. Smith says they want to enroll an additional 3,000 this year.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s a large goal for our team,&rdquo; he admits, noting that each staff member would be bringing in 15 new students every week. At each center, there are five re-engagement specialists that basically do what Prologue has been doing, only with names, addresses and phone numbers from downtown.</p><p>After a student decides to re-enroll, they go through a two-week program at a SOAR center that helps them set goals and choose a school.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Getting the diploma</span></p><p>Most of the students re-enrolling won&rsquo;t go back to a traditional high school. For one, many dropouts would age out of eligibility before they could feasibly earn enough credits to graduate. And Smith says putting teens back in an environment that already didn&rsquo;t work for them, usually doesn&rsquo;t make sense.</p><p>But students may not be going to one of the city&rsquo;s longstanding alternative schools, like Winnie Mandela, either.</p><p>That&rsquo;s because CPS recently expanded the number of alternative programs available to students, including many online schools and several run by for-profit companies.</p><p>One of those, Pathways in Education, is located in a strip mall at 87th and Kedzie. The school spans two spaces in this sprawling commercial building. One is a wide-open space, the size of a retail store, where about a dozen teachers sit at desks lining the outside walls and teens study at tables in the middle of the room.<br />Student James Cicconi goes here, but used to go to Kennedy High School on the Southwest Side. He says he skipped a lot during his freshman and sophomore years.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;When you ditch school, it&rsquo;s like an addiction,&rdquo; Cicconi says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s like right away you do it once and you&rsquo;re want to do it again and again and before you know it you&rsquo;re gone twenty days out of the month.&rdquo;</p><p>When he started his junior year, Cicconi says the staff at Kennedy told him, &ldquo;Even if you do all of your stuff, there&rsquo;s not enough time for you to graduate. So you can either wait for us to kick you out or you can do this program.&rdquo;</p><p>CPS requires 24 credits to graduate. When Cicconi left Kennedy, he only had four.</p><p>&ldquo;Because of the credits and how slow it is with getting them, and how much you have to do just to get a half credit for one class, they told me, even if I did night school, summer school, there just wasn&rsquo;t enough time for me to graduate on time,&rdquo; Cicconi says.</p><p>He started classes at Pathways last winter and comes roughly three hours every day. So far, he&rsquo;s earned twice as many credits as he did in two years at Kennedy.&nbsp;</p><p>CPS officials say the non-traditional setting and online classes help kids work at their own pace. But, nationally, investigations of online schools have found the courses often aren&rsquo;t as rigorous and can cheapen the value of a high school diploma.</p><p>Cicconi says classes are easy, but that he&rsquo;s able to focus better without lots of other kids around, goofing off in class. He says schools like Pathways are good for students who might have what he calls &ldquo;an authority problem&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;People come up with their own agenda and their own rules and I feel that, when you come up with your own rules, you have more of an obligation to do it because you&rsquo;re leading yourself,&rdquo; Cicconi says.</p><p>Back in South Shore, where Pa Joof and his team are doing outreach without a list from CPS, Dominick Muldrow turns the corner onto Jeffrey Boulevard, to head back towards Winnie Mandela High School. Muldrow and McGee, the other recruiter, both dropped out and earned their diplomas through alternative programs.</p><p>&ldquo;I relate to a lot of the guys, you know,&rdquo; Muldrow says. &ldquo;But at the end of the day, what it all boils down is, you&rsquo;re gonna need a high school diploma.&rdquo;</p><p>That is the message the district hopes to get to a least 3,000 more kids this year.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer and reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/@WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 15:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/how-do-you-find-high-school-dropouts-110816 Indicted police commander suspended from duty 11 times, records show http://www.wbez.org/news/indicted-police-commander-suspended-duty-11-times-records-show-110810 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Evans 1tightcrop_2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr"><em>Updated on September 18 at 6 p.m.</em></p><p dir="ltr">Cook County prosecutors on Thursday unveiled an indictment of a Chicago police commander who allegedly rammed his pistol into an arrested man&rsquo;s mouth. A grand jury has charged Cmdr. Glenn Evans, 52, with aggravated battery and official misconduct.</p><p>Evans did not speak during the hearing, which took place at the George N. Leighton Criminal Court Building and lasted about 10 minutes.</p><p>On the way out of the courthouse, about two dozen supporters tightly surrounded him to shield him from news reporters and cameras. Those supporters, including Chicago police officers, stuck with him all the way to a waiting SUV that carried him away.</p><div>Evans will plead &ldquo;not guilty,&rdquo; according to his attorney, Laura J. Morask. &ldquo;Cmdr. Evans will not only be exonerated but vindicated,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It was a rush to judgment and I think you&rsquo;ll see that.&rdquo;<p>City records, meanwhile, show that Evans has been suspended from duty at least 11 times during his 28 years in the police department. Most of the suspensions took place during the first decade of his career, when he worked as a South Side patrol officer, according to the records, obtained by WBEZ through Freedom of Information Act requests.</p><p>The alleged infractions ranged from a missed court appearance to an off-duty &ldquo;domestic altercation.&rdquo; The two longest suspensions, both 15 days, stemmed from excessive-force accusations.</p><p>One of those cases begin in 1990, when Evans was assigned to the Gresham District. A South Side mother allegedly ran afoul of Jackson Park Hospital personnel when she tried to visit her daughter, who was getting treated there after a sexual assault, according to the records.</p><p dir="ltr">Evans helped remove the mother from the hospital. Outside the facility, he allegedly slammed her against police vehicles and delivered punches that left her with a black eye and other injuries.</p><p dir="ltr">Evans later characterized the mother as intoxicated and uncooperative and denied the allegations, according to the records.</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/glenn-evans" style="text-align: center; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13.63636302948px; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px;" target="_blank"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Read all our coverage of Cmdr. Glenn Evans</strong></a></p><p dir="ltr">The other case began in 1994, when Evans suspected a South Side man stole property from the officer&rsquo;s car trunk. Evans, who was off duty, allegedly handcuffed the man, by an ankle and wrist, to a porch rail and beat him with his handgun.</p><p dir="ltr">The encounter left the man with a three-inch head gash and a cerebral concussion, according to the records. Evans denied using excessive force and claimed the man was resisting arrest.</p><p dir="ltr">Those disciplinary actions are among dozens of excessive-force complaints against Evans that city agencies have fielded since he joined the department in 1986. A report by former chief Chicago epidemiologist Dr. Steven Whitman <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/report-embattled-commander-no-1-excessive-force-complaints-110605">tallied 45 filed through 2008</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Since 2009, according to the records obtained through the FOIA requests, the city has received at least seven more excessive-force complaints against Evans, lifting the total to at least 52. City investigations have concluded that nearly all were &ldquo;not sustained&rdquo; or &ldquo;unfounded.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But six federal lawsuits alleging Evans brutality have led to five-figure city settlements. Those payments and related expenses total $282,467, according to a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/ousted-commander-leaves-trail-costly-lawsuits-110786">WBEZ review of court filings and city records</a>. Each settlement specifies that the defendants deny wrongdoing.</p><p>Morask, Evans&rsquo; attorney, called the complaints and settlements irrelevant to the criminal proceeding. &ldquo;The only thing that&rsquo;s relevant is what&rsquo;s in this indictment,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>&ldquo;Nobody likes to be arrested,&rdquo; Morask said. &ldquo;Complaints are just that. They are just complaints.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">At least three other lawsuits accusing Evans of excessive force are pending. In two, the defendants deny the allegations, according to city filings.</p><p dir="ltr">The third pending lawsuit was <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/lawsuit-police-commanders-alleged-battery-amounted-torture-110776">brought last week by Rickey J. Williams</a>, a South Side man whose allegations led to the criminal charges, both felonies.</p><p dir="ltr">Evans allegedly put the barrel of his service weapon into Williams&rsquo; mouth on January 30, 2013. Evans also allegedly pressed a Taser into his crotch and threatened to kill him.</p><p dir="ltr">DNA evidence prompted the city&rsquo;s Independent Police Review Authority to&nbsp;recommend in April that Evans be relieved of his police powers. WBEZ <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cpd-leaves-commander-post-despite-assault-allegation-dna-match-110581">revealed the case in July</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">But police Supt. Garry McCarthy, backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, left Evans in command of the Harrison District until August 27, when the criminal charges were announced.</p><div>After Thursday&#39;s hearing, Morask criticized both IPRA and Alvarez&rsquo;s office. She said no investigators had interviewed Evans when the charges were brought.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;In my experience,&rdquo; said Morask, who worked for years in the State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s Office, &ldquo;something you always do before a case is charged is you ask the suspect their side of the story.&rdquo;</div><p dir="ltr">The arraignment is scheduled for next Wednesday.&nbsp;</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></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 00:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/indicted-police-commander-suspended-duty-11-times-records-show-110810 Schools CEO: privatizing janitorial services not 'as smooth as we would like' http://www.wbez.org/news/schools-ceo-privatizing-janitorial-services-not-smooth-we-would-110799 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/photo bbb at city club.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett admitted Monday that turning over management of school janitors to two private companies hasn&rsquo;t been going very well.</p><p>&ldquo;Obviously it has not been as smooth as we would like,&rdquo; Byrd-Bennett said. &ldquo;We have met with principals. We continue to do so and I think in a very short time, you will see a change.&rdquo;</p><p>In February, the Chicago Board of Education awarded two contracts, worth a total of $340 million, to two private companies, Aramark and SodexoMAGIC. These two contracts combined make it one of the largest privatization moves of any school district across the country. Under the agreements, SodexoMAGIC would oversee 33 schools, while Aramark would oversee the remaining 500-some district-run schools.</p><p>CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley sold the idea to board members as making schools cleaner with new equipment, such as &ldquo;zamboni-like&rdquo; floor cleaning machines, and making principals&rsquo; lives easier, with <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/chicago-further-privatizes" target="_blank">&ldquo;Jimmy John&rsquo;s-like&rdquo; customer service</a> when supplies run low.</p><p>But so far, the outsourcing seems to have led to dirty schools, property damage, poor communication and janitors being laid off. Those complaints came to light in a survey of more than 230 principals conducted by the Administrators Alliance for Proven Policy and Legislation in Education, or AAPPLE, a member-driven arm of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association.</p><p>WBEZ <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767" target="_blank">first reported the story</a> early last week.</p><p>On Friday, 475 janitors officially received layoff notices. Byrd-Bennett says the district is not responsible for those cuts.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not laying anybody off,&rdquo; Byrd-Bennett said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s up to the contractors that we&rsquo;ve contracted with. They are going to come up with a system for us that will get the work done.&rdquo;</p><p>CPS employs 825 custodian positions that are covered by SEIU Local 73 and none of those positions are being cut, according to district officials. However, many of those board-funded janitors have been reassigned to cover other schools as a result of the layoffs.</p><p>District officials continue to insist that schools are not dirty and that the private contracts with Aramark and SodexoMAGIC are saving them money.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer and reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/schools-ceo-privatizing-janitorial-services-not-smooth-we-would-110799 Officer's death highlights need for trauma center in Northwest Indiana http://www.wbez.org/news/officers-death-highlights-need-trauma-center-northwest-indiana-110790 <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/Trauma-NWI-crop.jpg" title="The hearse carrying the body of fallen Merrillville, Indiana Police Officer Nickolaus Schultz passes by the police station where he worked. Some say Schultz’s death highlights the need for advanced trauma care in Northwest Indiana. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)" /></div><p>On a gloomy Wednesday afternoon this week, dozens of onlookers lined the streets outside the Town Hall and Police Station in Merrillville, Indiana.<br /><br />They were there to honor Police Officer Nickolaus Schultz, the town&rsquo;s first officer to die in the line of duty.</p><p>A long string of squad cars with flashing blue lights escorted the 24-year-old&rsquo;s body on its way back from the Cook County Medical Examiner&rsquo;s Office in Chicago.</p><p>Carol Miano, the president of the Merrillville Town Council, wiped away tears as they passed in front of her.</p><p>&ldquo;He was sworn in in my first term as president and he died in my second term as president,&rdquo; Miano said. &ldquo;Everybody is heartbroken. The residents, everyone in this community.&rdquo;<br /><br />Schultz was shot in the head late Friday evening while responding to a call at an condominium complex in Merrillville.</p><p>The Lake County, Indiana Coroner&rsquo;s Office reported 33-year-old Michael Hrnciar died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after he shot Schultz. Police were called to a condo where Hrnciar had been evicted but was trying to return. Hrnciar was later found to be wearing body armor.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Trauma-NWI-2.jpg" style="height: 250px; width: 250px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;" title="Merrillville Police Officer Nickolaus Schultz is shown in his police uniform and as a member of the Grizzlies football team for Franklin College in Franklin, Indiana. (Photo provided by the Merrillville Police Department)" />After Schultz was shot, he was first taken to Methodist Hospital Southlake in Merrillville. But in order to get advanced care, Schultz had to be transported nearly an hour west to Illinois.<br /><br />That&rsquo;s because the nearest Level 1 trauma center is Advocate Christ Medical Center in south suburban Oak Lawn.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s unclear whether Officer Schultz could&rsquo;ve been saved by more urgent care. But what is urgently clear, according to some local officials, including Miano, is that Northwest Indiana needs much better trauma care.</p><p>Miano believes the state of Indiana should put money behind that effort.<br /><br />&ldquo;Because it will help out every resident in the area in Northwest Indiana,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Getting access to trauma care for a critically injured person could be a matter of life or death.</p><p>&ldquo;What&rsquo;s important about quality care in that first hour - the golden hour - whereas if the person is not doing well, their chances of survival decreases as the length of time that the surgeon gets on the scene elapses,&rdquo; says Dr. Michael McGee, Emergency Department doctor and Medical Director for Methodist Hospitals.</p><p>Methodist Hospital operates two campus; one in Gary and another 15 miles away in Merrillville.</p><p>Officer Schultz was transported initially to the hospital&rsquo;s Merrillville campus before moving on to Advocate Christ Medical Center.</p><p>&ldquo;That definitely was an unfortunate situation and you have to have special neurosurgeons who were there to do what needs to be done. And even when he got to where he went, which was a level 1 trauma center in Advocate Christ, at that point, for those kinds of injuries, they&#39;re so severe, there&rsquo;s really not much that can be done,&rdquo; McGee said.</p><p>But Jennifer Mullen says regardless of Schultz&rsquo;s condition, that doesn&rsquo;t lessen the need for a trauma center in Northwest Indiana.</p><p>&ldquo;We see industrial accidents, we&rsquo;re so close to the industrial corridor along the lakeshore. We are geographically located between three major highways,&rdquo; said Mullen, a registered nurse at Methodist Hospital who is also coordinator of its trauma services. &ldquo;We certainly have a high incidence of crime in Northwest Indiana so the population we see trauma wise is varied,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The cost of establishing and maintaining a trauma center is expensive.</p><p>Even in Illinois there are large voids: Chicago&rsquo;s south side, the far south suburbs and even in downstate southeastern Illinois.</p><p>In Northwest Indiana, Dr. McGee&rsquo;s been pushing for years to expand trauma care as part of a state task force.</p><p>But he says the money it takes to pay for for specially trained nurses, physician specialists who are on constant call or stay at the hospital, along with state-of-the-art equipment can run pretty high for hospitals.</p><p>&ldquo;Unlike other states, that have some kind of tax -- in terms of automobile, alcohol, smoking, that will go toward trauma have funds set up -- our state does not have that,&rdquo; McGee said. &ldquo;We got people all over the area now who want to be a trauma center but there&rsquo;s no teeth in the fact that there&rsquo;s no money to become a very independent and sufficient trauma center.&rdquo;</p><p>To become a trauma center, a hospital must first decide if it&rsquo;s a financially viable option, said Arthur L. Logsdon, Assistant Commissioner for the Indiana State Department of Health.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Hospitals have to make the decision as to why they want to be a trauma center,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The state of Indiana has historically ranked near the bottom of the nation for access to trauma care for residents. But the state is trying to change that by establishing a trauma care network and working with hospitals to try to achieve trauma level status.</p><p>That assistance, however, does not come with state funding.</p><p>Still, Logsdon said there are twice as many trauma centers in the state today compared to just two years ago.</p><p>&ldquo;The 19 that we have, have all done it on their own dime. There have been no state dollars that have gone into that development,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>And those 19 now include Methodist Hospital&rsquo;s Gary facility. Just this week the hospital celebrated its designation as a Level 3 trauma center with a visit from local and state dignitaries, hospital brass and others.&nbsp;</p><p>Level 3 is not as advanced as Level 1 or Level 2 centers in Indianapolis or Chicago, but Dr. McGee says it&rsquo;s a start.</p><p>&ldquo;About 85 percent to 90 percent of the patients that we have that involved trauma we can take care of them but there&rsquo;s a few that still need the services of a level 1 trauma center,&rdquo; he said.</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/Trauma-NWI-4.jpg" title="The Trauma Area at Methodist Hospital in Gary, Indiana which is now designated as a Level 3 Trauma Center, the first for Northwest Indiana. (Photo by WBEZ/Michael Puente)" /></div><p>Injuries sustained by fallen Merrillville Police Officer Nickolaus Schultz would&rsquo;ve still required transfer to an out-of-area Level 1 trauma center.</p><p>Longtime Indiana State Rep. Charlie Brown, a Democrat from Gary, has been trying to get Indiana to provide funding for just such a trauma center to help offset costs.</p><p>&ldquo;That takes a lot of money and so there is going to need some partnerships and coordination in order for that to occur,&rdquo; Brown said. &ldquo;We are all aware that there is a need for state involvement in the whole trauma system and it&rsquo;s moving in that direction.&rdquo;</p><p>But it&rsquo;s moving more slowly than Dr. McGee would like.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I think the people in the community need to talk and lobby to their politicians, to their representatives and basically advocate for some kind of tax that can go toward funding for trauma,&rdquo; McGee said.</p><p>Funeral services for Nicholaus Schultz are scheduled for Monday. He will be laid to rest in his hometown of Lowell, Indiana.</p><p><em>Michael Puente is WBEZ&rsquo;s Northwest Indiana Bureau Reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews">@MikePuenteNews</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 12 Sep 2014 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/officers-death-highlights-need-trauma-center-northwest-indiana-110790 Lawsuit: Man beaten in Cook County jail more than 10 hours after judge ordered his release http://www.wbez.org/news/lawsuit-man-beaten-cook-county-jail-more-10-hours-after-judge-ordered-his-release-110788 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 5.25.21 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p>Under the authority of Sheriff Tom Dart, Cook County inmates who&rsquo;ve already been freed by a judge are taken back into the jail&rsquo;s general population while they wait to be processed out.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>It&rsquo;s a practice that&rsquo;s been called unconstitutional. and more than a year ago Dart told WBEZ&nbsp; he&rsquo;d fix it.</p><p>But little has changed.</p><p>For one of the men who went through this process, Edward Shultz, going back into lockup turned out to be dangerous.</p><p>Shultz went before a Cook County judge in suburban Bridgeview around 10 in the morning on May 8, 2013.</p><p>There he pleaded guilty to unlawful use of a weapon, a misdemeanor.</p><p>Shultz had been picked up about three weeks earlier after police officers in Oak Lawn found brass knuckles in his glove compartment during a traffic stop. He was taken to Cook County jail at 26th Street and California Avenue on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side and stayed there while he awaited trial.</p><p>After he pleaded guilty, the judge ruled that the 20-or-so days he had spent waiting was sufficient punishment and ordered Shultz be released.</p><p>Shultz says he was relieved and excited to go back to his family.</p><p>Before he could do that, he was taken back to a holding cell where he says he waited more than seven hours to be bused back to the jail.</p><p>Around 6 p.m. in the evening, Shultz was in handcuffs being ushered back into Cook County jail.</p><p>&ldquo;By the time they get you back to the jail, you know, the shift change comes and they leave you and you&rsquo;re still in handcuffs and they put you in a large room all handcuffed together,&rdquo; Shultz says.</p><p>After that, Shultz was returned to the deck where he had been living and he started to gather his things.</p><p>&ldquo;I went into the washroom, a group of inmates walked in and started asking me questions and I told them I don&rsquo;t know I&rsquo;m just getting ready to go home. I was struck by an inmate. And at that time I was still conscious and about maybe six or seven more inmates ran in the bathroom on me,&rdquo; Shultz says.</p><p>After that, he says, he was knocked unconscious.</p><p>Another inmate came and helped him up, and offered him a rag to clean his face.</p><p>Then Shultz says he made a beeline for the jail&rsquo;s phones and made a collect call to his grandmother, Lucy Griffin.</p><p>WBEZ obtained a recording of that call, and <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/edward-shultz-jail-phone-call">you can listen to it here</a>. In it, Shultz sounds disoriented. He pleads with his grandma to arrange for someone to pick him up outside of the jail, although he doesn&rsquo;t know exactly when he&rsquo;ll get out.</p><p>&ldquo;I just got beat up really bad,&rdquo; he tells her. &ldquo;The whole side of my head is swollen and face is swollen and my nose is broken.&rdquo;</p><p>When he tells her the judge had given him credit for time served, she asks &ldquo;Well, then why did you go back to jail?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Because you have to go back to jail until they call you out of here,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Shultz says it was only after he made the call that any guards noticed his injuries.</p><p>According to incident reports from the jail, Shultz had visible bumps and red marks on his head and face and a bloody nose.</p><p>Those reports list the time of the beating as 8:45 p.m., almost 11 hours after a judge had declared Shultz a free man.</p><p>The same month Shultz was attacked in a jail bathroom, Sheriff Tom Dart told WBEZ he wanted to change the way the jail handled inmates after a judge orders their release.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re trying to get people out of the jail as quickly as possible,&rdquo; he said in an interview with WBEZ&rsquo;s Robert Wildeboer in May of 2013.</p><p>And Dart pointed to a pilot program that would allow workers in suburban courthouses to check for warrants and everything else so inmates can be discharged straight from court.</p><p>Cara Smith, the jail&rsquo;s executive director, says that program is now in every suburban courthouse.</p><p>But so far, it&rsquo;s only enabled two inmates to leave from the courthouse.</p><p>She says the sheriff&rsquo;s office is doing its &ldquo;very best&rdquo; to improve the discharge process. But she couldn&rsquo;t say that the wait time has gotten any shorter for the typical inmate.</p><p>&ldquo;Our two primary goals are overall to get people released as quickly as possible, but to make sure the right people are being released. We have a very, very antiquated system &hellip; it&rsquo;s paper-based primarily,&rdquo; Smith says. &ldquo;We have to be extremely careful that we&rsquo;re not releasing the wrong individual.&rdquo;</p><p>In order to do that, workers at the jail have to go through the paper records to check for outstanding warrants before they can let an inmate go.</p><p>Attorney Patrick Morrissey agrees the sheriff should be doing these thorough checks. But he says the process is way too long, and unsafe for the people waiting to be released.</p><p>&ldquo;These are people who are entitled to their freedom. And people who are entitled to be free should be released in the most efficient and timely manner,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Morrissey is representing Shultz in a lawsuit against Tom Dart and Cook County.</p><p>That lawsuit is on top of the ongoing class action suit brought over the discharge process.</p><p>Shultz&rsquo;s federal complaint blames poor supervision at the jail for his beating.</p><p>And it alleges that Shultz never should have been at the jail more than 10 hours after a judge had declared him a free man.</p><p>Morrissey says he knows it is tough to change a system as big and old as Cook County&rsquo;s.</p><p>&ldquo;But I don&rsquo;t think there&rsquo;s been enough attention and focus by the sheriff&rsquo;s office to really retool the system,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>He adds that one fix could be to have a separate waiting room at the jail.</p><p>That would keep people who have already been freed away from the general population while their paperwork is processed.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/167302102&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him <a href="http://TWITTER.COM/pksmid">@pksmid</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 12 Sep 2014 05:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/lawsuit-man-beaten-cook-county-jail-more-10-hours-after-judge-ordered-his-release-110788 Ousted commander leaves trail of costly lawsuits http://www.wbez.org/news/ousted-commander-leaves-trail-costly-lawsuits-110786 <p><p>Police brutality lawsuits against a Chicago district commander who allegedly put his pistol into a suspect&rsquo;s mouth have cost taxpayers more than a quarter million dollars, a WBEZ review of court records and city settlements has found.</p><p>That amount appears certain to increase as the city faces three more lawsuits, including one filed this week, that allege excessive force by the commander, Glenn Evans, 52. The plaintiffs&rsquo; cases could benefit from a criminal prosecution of Evans, who was charged last month with aggravated battery and official misconduct.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Evans 1tightcrop_0.jpg" style="float: right; width: 260px; height: 187px;" title="Evans faces felony charges in a criminal case that could benefit plaintiffs in three pending civil lawsuits against him. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></div><p>To date, the city has paid out five-figure settlements in at least six lawsuits claiming Evans brutality, according to the records. The first two, totaling $25,000, came in 2002 and 2004.</p><p>Those settlements did not appear to tarnish Evans&rsquo; reputation among cops. Philip J. Cline, a police superintendent in Mayor Richard M. Daley&rsquo;s administration, promoted Evans to lieutenant in 2006 and assigned him to Gresham, a South Side district.</p><p>Within four years, the city had settled three more excessive-force lawsuits against Evans, lifting the payout total to $153,999.</p><p>In 2012, Supt. Garry McCarthy promoted Evans to be one of the city&rsquo;s 22 district commanders and assigned him to Grand Crossing, another South Side district.</p><p>Shootings dropped in Grand Crossing last year. McCarthy credited Evans. Some residents also praised the commander&rsquo;s work ethic and attentiveness.</p><p>This March, McCarthy transferred Evans to Harrison, the police district with the most homicides.</p><p>&ldquo;I got fires on the West Side,&rdquo; McCarthy said at a Police Board meeting that month, referring to the violence.</p><p>&ldquo;I got to get my best guy,&rdquo; McCarthy said, calling Evans &ldquo;probably the most aggressive district commander in the Chicago Police Department . . . probably my favorite among my favorites.&rdquo;</p><p>McCarthy described the transfer as a career advancement based on Evans&rsquo; &ldquo;wonderful work.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/glenn-evans" target="_blank"><strong>Read all our coverage of Cmdr. Glenn Evans</strong></a></p><p>By this point, the city had settled a sixth suit alleging Evans&#39; brutality, raising the payout total to $224,999.</p><p>In addition to the settlements, the city had incurred other expenses in these cases. Chicago Law Department records show outlays of at least $57,468 for experts, court reporting, medical-record copies and outside counsel.</p><p>Adding in those expenses, the price tag for lawsuits accusing Evans of excessive force is $282,467.</p><p>The settlements, considered individually, do not show culpability. All specify that their aim is to avoid the expense of further litigation. All specify that the defendants deny wrongdoing and liability.</p><p>But some civil-rights attorneys see a pattern and put much of the blame on superintendents who have promoted Evans.</p><p>&ldquo;McCarthy needs to be held accountable for the way he trains and disciplines his officers, particularly people he puts in positions of high authority,&rdquo; said Patrick Morrissey, a lawyer who filed one of the three unresolved brutality suits against Evans.</p><p>Neither McCarthy nor Mayor Rahm Emanuel answered WBEZ questions this week about Evans&rsquo; promotion to commander.</p><p><strong>Pending lawsuits</strong></p><p>Morrissey&rsquo;s client, Rita King, was arrested after a 2011 domestic conflict. Officers brought her to the Gresham station, where Evans was still based. In her first public comments about the incident, King this week told WBEZ she refused to be fingerprinted because officers had not informed her what charges she faced.</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/Rita%20King%20mug%20facing%20camera%20CROP.jpg" style="float: left; width: 230px; height: 189px;" title="Minutes before officers took this booking photo, Rita King says, Evans broke bones in her face and threatened to ‘push my nose through my brain.’ King has filed one of the three unresolved civil lawsuits alleging excessive force by him. (Chicago Police Department)" /></div><p>&ldquo;So the officer got upset with me,&rdquo; King recalled. &ldquo;He said, &lsquo;I&rsquo;m going to go get somebody to get your fingerprints.&rsquo; &rdquo;<br /><br />King said the officer brought in Evans, a lieutenant at the time, who &ldquo;grabbed me by the nose.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;He was using force against my face with his hand,&rdquo; King said. &ldquo;He kept saying, &lsquo;I&rsquo;m going to push your nose through your brain.&rsquo; &rdquo;</p><p>A court filing by the city said Evans used &ldquo;a reasonable degree of force in order to control King.&rdquo;</p><p>Two days after the incident, a physician at Roseland Community Hospital examined King and found multiple facial bone fractures, according to a hospital record.<br /><br />Another pending lawsuit against Evans stems from a 2012 police clash with protesters as Chicago hosted a NATO summit. Photojournalist Joshua Lott, the plaintiff, claims Evans and other officers threw him to the ground, stomped on him, hit him with batons or other instruments, and beat him. The suit says Lott identified himself as a member of the press &ldquo;but the beating continued unabated.&rdquo;</p><p>Evans and the other defendants deny those allegations, according to a court filing by the city.&nbsp;</p><p>The third pending lawsuit against Evans was brought Tuesday by Rickey Williams, a South Side man whose accusations led to the criminal charges against the commander. Evans allegedly put the barrel of his police pistol into Williams&rsquo; mouth last year, pressed a Taser into his crotch and threatened to kill him.</p><p>Williams&rsquo; suit cites a lab test that showed his DNA on Evans&rsquo; gun. WBEZ revealed that test and an April recommendation by the city&rsquo;s Independent Police Review Authority that the commander be relieved of police powers.</p><p>McCarthy, backed by Mayor Emanuel, did not follow that recommendation. McCarthy and Emanuel lauded Evans&rsquo; efforts against crime. The commander remained in his post until August 27, when Cook County prosecutors filed the charges, both felonies.</p><p>&ldquo;Until Cmdr. Evans was arrested and charged there had been no finding in the investigation,&rdquo; a written statement from McCarthy said this week. &ldquo;As soon as we were made aware of the charges, Cmdr. Evans was relieved of his police powers, pending the outcome of this matter.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;The alleged actions, if true, are unacceptable to the residents we serve and to the men and women of this department,&rdquo; McCarthy&rsquo;s statement added.</p><p>Evans&rsquo; attorney, Laura Morask, called the criminal investigation &ldquo;incredibly flawed&rdquo; and called the commander&rsquo;s actions lawful. She has not returned WBEZ messages seeking comment about the pending civil claims against Evans, who could not be reached for comment.</p><p><strong>Other complaints</strong></p><p>Most brutality complaints against Evans have not ended up in court. City agencies have fielded dozens of them since he joined the police department in 1986.</p><p>A report by former chief Chicago epidemiologist Dr. Steven Whitman says 45 brutality complaints were lodged against Evans during January 1988&ndash;May 2000 and May 2002&ndash;December 2008.</p><p>Authorities responsible for investigating those complaints found that two warranted disciplinary action, according to the Whitman report, prepared for a lawsuit against a different officer.</p><p>In requests under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, WBEZ asked for complaint summaries from Evans&rsquo; entire 28 years with the department.</p><p>Mayor Emanuel&rsquo;s administration has not provided those records.</p><p>At a news conference last week, WBEZ asked Emanuel how he planned to hold McCarthy accountable for advancing Evans&rsquo; career despite all the excessive-force lawsuits and complaints over the years.</p><p>Emanuel responded that the public should &ldquo;hold all of us accountable.&rdquo; The mayor then changed the subject to the criminal probe of Evans.</p><p>&ldquo;There were questions that had not been investigated,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;Once that conclusion was made and the investigation was concluded, actions were taken.&rdquo;</p><p>Evans, assigned to desk duty since the criminal charges were filed, earns an annual salary of $154,932.</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> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 16:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ousted-commander-leaves-trail-costly-lawsuits-110786 Lawsuit: Police commander's alleged battery amounted to 'torture' http://www.wbez.org/news/lawsuit-police-commanders-alleged-battery-amounted-torture-110776 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Williams presser 3 colors CROP scaled.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-f618ffc4-5cd6-35e9-fcc6-8e1ba4b86f98">A man whose brutality complaint led to felony charges against a Chicago police commander took his allegations to federal court Tuesday. Rickey J. Williams, 24, filed a lawsuit that accuses Glenn Evans of &ldquo;torture&rdquo; and says Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s administration condoned it.</p><p>The alleged abuse took place after Evans chased Williams into an abandoned South Side building on January 30, 2013. Evans, according to the suit,&nbsp;put a taser to Williams&rsquo;&nbsp;crotch, threatened his life, and inserted his police pistol where it did not belong.</p><p>&ldquo;They took the gun and put it down my throat,&rdquo; Williams says in a video provided by his legal team. &ldquo;They should get punished.&rdquo;</p><p>Williams attended a Tuesday news conference to announce his suit but did not speak.</p><p>The suit cites a lab test that showed Williams&rsquo; DNA on Evans&rsquo; gun. WBEZ revealed that test and an April recommendation by the city&rsquo;s Independent Police Review Authority that the commander be relieved of police powers.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/glenn-evans" target="_blank"><strong>Read all our coverage of Cmdr. Glenn Evans</strong></a></p><p>Emanuel, who was briefed on the recommendation, and police Supt. Garry McCarthy&nbsp;lauded Evans&rsquo; efforts against crime and left the commander in his post until the Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s Office charged him on August 27 with aggravated battery and official misconduct.</p><p>Evans&rsquo; attorney, Laura J. Morask, did not respond to a request for comment about the lawsuit. After the charges were filed, she called the criminal investigation &ldquo;incredibly flawed&rdquo; and said Evans&rsquo; actions were just and lawful.</p><p>Williams&rsquo; attorney, Antonio Romanucci, disputed a claim in a police report that the chase began after Evans&rsquo; spotted Williams holding a gun. Williams was simply standing at a bus stop, &ldquo;not doing anything,&rdquo; Romanucci said.</p><p>Inside the building, according to the lawsuit, Williams did not threaten harm to the commander or anyone else.</p><p>Police reports from the incident did not state that Williams resisted arrest, Cook County prosecutors said after charging Evans.</p><p>The commander &ldquo;battered&rdquo; Williams and threw him to the floor, the lawsuit says.</p><p>&ldquo;More than five&rdquo; officers were present during the alleged abuse, Romanucci said. &ldquo;A couple were holding [Williams] down.&rdquo;</p><p>The suit claims that the city has a &ldquo;widespread practice of failing to discipline&rdquo; officers for excessive force. That practice amounts to a &ldquo;de facto policy,&rdquo; according to the&nbsp;suit, and encourages cops to &ldquo;engage in misconduct with impunity and without fear of official consequences.&rdquo; The misconduct includes &ldquo;coercive interrogation techniques and torture on suspects.&rdquo;</p><p>The lawsuit does not specify an amount of monetary damages sought. Romanucci said the suit&rsquo;s&nbsp;aims extend beyond money and include changing city policies.</p><p>&ldquo;When you have a commander setting the example for [the] rank and file &mdash; that it&rsquo;s OK to do this in order to coerce confessions &mdash; and then, when IPRA recommends discipline, and no discipline is taken, it sends the clearest message across the board to the city of Chicago police officers that [brutality] is OK,&rdquo;&nbsp;Romanucci said.</p><p>Emanuel, in a written statement about the lawsuit, said Evans&rsquo; alleged actions, if they occurred, are &ldquo;deeply disturbing&rdquo; and &ldquo;have no place in our city and are not reflective of the actions and values of the men and women who serve in the Chicago Police Department.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Our policing philosophy is rooted in community policing and fostering stronger relationships with residents and communities, because we all have a role to play in the safety of our city,&rdquo; Emanuel&rsquo;s statement added.</p><p>Emanuel&rsquo;s role includes hiring, firing and supervising the city&rsquo;s&nbsp;police superintendent.</p><p>A statement from McCarthy about the lawsuit said &ldquo;personnel decisions for exempt-rank officers in the department are mine, and mine alone, whether it&rsquo;s a commander, a deputy chief or a chief.&rdquo;</p><p>At a news conference last week, WBEZ asked Emanuel how he planned to hold McCarthy accountable for promoting Evans to commander and later transferring him to the police district with the city&rsquo;s most homicides&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;despite dozens of excessive-force complaints against him over the years. The mayor responded that the public should &ldquo;hold all of us accountable.&rdquo;</p><p>Emanuel then changed the subject to this year&rsquo;s criminal probe of Evans. &ldquo;There were questions that had not been investigated,&rdquo; the mayor said. &ldquo;Once that conclusion was made and the investigation was concluded, actions were taken.&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> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 18:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/lawsuit-police-commanders-alleged-battery-amounted-torture-110776 Chicago SRO owners say proposed city ordinance is 'hostile' http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-sro-owners-say-proposed-city-ordinance-hostile-110775 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/SRO ordinance.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-6a96fd4e-5c8e-a95a-a0fa-12b9a087e263">A new City Hall plan to preserve <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/slow-disappearing-act-chicago-sro-105836">fast-vanishing</a> affordable housing units in single-room occupancy (SRO) and residential hotels has some Chicago SRO owners upset.</p><p>The Single-Room Occupancy and Residential Hotel Preservation Ordinance, to be introduced at Wednesday&rsquo;s City Council meeting, includes incentives to induce building owners to maintain a certain threshold of affordable units in their buildings. There are few specifics about those incentives, but much of the measure focuses on financial penalties that owners would face if the number of affordable units in their buildings falls below a mandated percentage.</p><p>&ldquo;Essentially what has happened is the city wants to change the rules in the middle of the game,&rdquo; said Eric Rubenstein, Executive Director of the Single Room Housing Assistance Corporation, which works with building owners, operators and tenants to preserve SRO housing in Chicago. &ldquo;The properties are going to be dropping substantially in value because of the proposed ordinance, as now written,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Under the proposal, owners who wish to demolish or convert their properties to market-rate rentals would be required to maintain at least 20 percent of the building&rsquo;s units as affordable, or else pay a $200,000 &ldquo;preservation fee&rdquo; for every unit that falls short of that threshold. Additionally, if an owner wishes to sell a building, it would allow non-profits first crack at purchasing it and would require the owner to engage in good-faith negotiations with those organizations. If no sale occurs within six months of notifying non-profits, then the owner may attempt to sell the property to private developers.</p><p>&ldquo;The private market often moves too quickly for these non-profits to pull together the financing,&rdquo; explained Michael Negron, Chief of Policy to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, &ldquo;and so we wanted to make sure that there was enough period of time for these organizations to actually&hellip; know a sale is coming, and then work with potential lenders, work with the city, work with the state. There are different parties that could potentially help put together a deal like that, but they just need the time to do it.&rdquo;</p><p>The proposal would allow building owners to bypass this process altogether, and to approach the private market first, if they pay a fee of $200,000 on each unit for 30 percent of the units in the building. But many current owners fear that these fines will drastically undercut the selling price of their buildings.</p><p>&ldquo;The property values will have plunged based on the market being so restricted, that the only option essentially for a current owner when he or she is ready to sell is to turn to a non-profit,&rdquo; worried Rubenstein, &ldquo;and the non-profit could offer nickels or dimes on the dollar.&rdquo;</p><p>All fees collected through the proposed ordinance would go to a preservation fund, which the city would use to assist SRO owners with defraying the cost of maintaining, developing or improving their properties. Negron said, additionally, that the city already may have existing resources to preserve at least 700 SRO units through the end of 2018. He said owners may call the city&rsquo;s Department of Planning and Development to discuss rental subsidies from the Low Income Housing Trust Fund, and financing from TIF districts and low-interest loans, to maintain affordability.</p><p>Rubenstein said he and other building owners had hoped the city would employ more incentives than penalties to encourage affordability. He said SRHAC submitted a list of 15 suggested incentives for the city to consider in its ordinance, including exemptions from sales taxes, water fees, and the proposed minimum wage ordinance. Negron said many of the suggestions were impractical.</p><p>A broad coalition of advocates for the homeless, and low-income tenants around Chicago, praised the proposal.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s a great ordinance,&rdquo; said Adelaide Meyers, a former tenant of the Norman Hotel and affordable housing advocate. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s exactly what Chicago needs to maintain SROs throughout the city, because if we lose all our SROs we&rsquo;re going to have a lot of homeless people.&rdquo;</p><p>Meyers was herself displaced from the Norman Hotel when Cedar Street Co. bought the North Side property and converted it to upscale rentals within its <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/flats-chicago-developer-weighs-housing-affordability-debate-110475">FLATS portfolio</a>. Meyers now shares an apartment in the Rogers Park neighborhood with a friend, and with some rental assistance from her father.</p><p>&ldquo;I never thought that I would end up living in an SRO to start off with, but I lived in a few different ones for several years,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;So I could definitely end up back in an SRO.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 17:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-sro-owners-say-proposed-city-ordinance-hostile-110775 Custodial contract causing problems at start of school year http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/board of ed_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s one of those jobs that you don&rsquo;t really notice, until it&rsquo;s not done.</p><p>Dave Belanger knows firsthand. He once worked as a part-time, fill-in janitor for extra income early in his teaching career.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve scrubbed toilets and washed bathrooms and cleaned classrooms and I know if you don&rsquo;t keep on top of that every single day, it just quadruples,&quot; Belanger said. &ldquo;A school that could start out clean on Monday by Friday, if things haven&rsquo;t been done, is really almost a pig sty.&rdquo;<br /><br />Dave Belanger is now the principal of Hanson Park Elementary School in the Belmont-Cragin neighborhood on the city&rsquo;s Northwest side. He said, this year, the deep clean that usually takes place in schools over the summer was &ldquo;the scariest and least efficient&rdquo; process he has seen over the 14 years he&rsquo;s worked for CPS.<br /><br />&ldquo;Many teachers spent a half a day to a day, last week, before kids came in, scrubbing their classrooms, tops of bookcases, window sills, walls, baseboards, things that would normally be cleaned were not cleaned,&rdquo; Belanger said.<br /><br />Belanger is just one of more than 230 principals recently surveyed by the Administrators Alliance for Proven Policy and Legislation in Education, or AAPPLE, a member-driven arm of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association. The results reveal problems across Chicago Public Schools&mdash;dirty classrooms, damaged materials, theft and an overall lack of communication.<br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>Shifting control of custodians</strong></span></p><p>How CPS got to this point is complicated. For years, custodians fell under the oversight of each school&rsquo;s building engineer. That changed a few years ago, when budget officials centralized the building engineers and put custodians under principals. CPS had previously subcontracted with private cleaning services, like We Clean and Total Facilities.<br /><br />Then this past spring, the Chicago Board of Education awarded a $260 million contract to a company called Aramark to oversee nearly all 2,400-plus janitors in the school system. Another private company&mdash;SodexoMAGIC&mdash;was awarded an $80 million contract to oversee 33 schools.&nbsp;</p><p>Under the contract, private custodial manaagers have been assigned to oversee groups of 15 to 20 schools, according to Leslie Norgren, the district&rsquo;s director of asset management.</p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:13.5pt;margin-left: 0in;line-height:16.5pt;vertical-align:baseline">At the board meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley talked up the privatization deal to board members, saying Aramark and SodexoMAGIC would be &ldquo;like Jimmy John&rsquo;s,&rdquo; so when a principal called with a need for say, paper towels, &ldquo;the guy is showing up with more paper towels before the principal hangs up the phone.&rdquo;<span style="font-size:10.5pt; font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;color:red"><o:p></o:p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/137054470&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></span></p><p>The private companies now oversee subcontractors that employ thousands of custodians as well as 825 board-funded custodians that are unionized and covered under a contract negotiated by the Service Employees International Union Local 73. SEIU Local 73 did not respond to requests for comment about how the change to Aramark has affected its members.<br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>Communication problems and more &#39;red tape&#39;</strong></span><br /><br />District officials promised the new contract would not only save money, but would also lead to cleaner schools and give principals more time to focus on teaching and learning.<br /><br />But that hasn&rsquo;t happened. Teresa Chrobak- Prince, principal of Hearst Elementary on the Southwest Side, said because &ldquo;nobody knows who&rsquo;s directing who,&rdquo; the responsibility falls back into the principal&rsquo;s lap.<br /><br />When WBEZ spoke with Chrobak- Prince at the end of the first day of school last week, she still didn&rsquo;t know who her Aramark custodial manager was. She also said the new contract has created more red tape.<br /><br />&ldquo;For something as simple as making sure the air-conditioning is regulated, you have to make ten phone calls and send five emails before anything gets done,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t just simply go to your engineer and say I need this done because then they have this whole new system and they have to put it in the computer and they have to call their FM and they have to get it approved, and then we have to get three quotes.&rdquo;<br /><br />Norgren of CPS said &ldquo;that should not be happening.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;[Principals] should feel very comfortable directing the custodian that that garbage can needs to be dumped,&rdquo; Norgren said. &ldquo;It shouldn&rsquo;t be this process where they&rsquo;re running it up the flagpole.&rdquo;<br /><br />Norgren says Aramark officials will be meeting with individual principals in the coming weeks to address any problems.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>Fewer custodians, cleaner schools?</strong></span><br /><br />CPS officials insist overall cleanliness of schools remains the same, despite reports indicating otherwise and an overall reduction in the custodial workforce.&nbsp;<br /><br />Of those who took the principal survey, 87 percent reported at least one janitor being cut. Additionally, WBEZ spoke with more than a dozen people at schools across the city and nearly all say their school has fewer custodians.<br /><br />&ldquo;As of right now, we have six night custodians, when we used to have ten and only two daytime custodians,&rdquo; said Carolyn Brown, a teacher and parent at Kelly High School. She says at least one of the bathrooms in the school is now only being cleaned once a week.&nbsp;<br /><br />&ldquo;My daughter actually goes to school here and it makes me, the parent in me, cringe at the idea of her going into a bathroom that&rsquo;s only cleaned once a week when we have thousands of people come through this building,&rdquo; Brown added.<br /><br />Jonathan Zielinski, a teacher at Drummond Montessori in Bucktown, said the school used to have four custodians, one for each floor of the building. They now have two.<br /><br />One of them has been at Drummond for more than 20 years and is being reassigned to another school, where he&rsquo;ll take the place of three custodians that were cut over the summer.<br /><br />&ldquo;He&rsquo;s not losing his job, but he&rsquo;s losing his family, his community,&rdquo; Zielinski told WBEZ. He added that for a school like Drummond, where the Montessori curriculum requires students to work in very specifically prepared environments, a clean, neat classroom is important. The custodians, like the one being reassigned, play an important role.<br /><br />&ldquo;He knows everybody in this building too,&rdquo; Zielinski said. &ldquo;A stranger walks into this building, [he] will recognize a face or not recognize a face. If I saw somebody who I didn&rsquo;t recognize in the building, I would ask [him] if he knew who they were, because he is here every day, every moment.&rdquo;<br /><br />And the reassignments are just the beginning. Norgren confirmed that roughly 475 custodians will be let go by the end of September. None of the 825 custodial positions covered by SEIU Local 73 will be cut, Norgren said. Many of those positions, like the one at Drummond, have been shifted as a result of the layoffs.<br /><br />Two and a half of those positions will be cut from Dave Belanger&rsquo;s school, Hanson Park.<br /><br />&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t see how it would be physically possible for three and a half custodians to clean the campus we have,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />That campus includes four buildings with a total of 65 classrooms.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer and reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 08 Sep 2014 17:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767 Illinois begins accepting applications for marijuana businesses http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-begins-accepting-applications-marijuana-businesses-110764 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/medical-marijuana-2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois officials are now accepting applications for people who want to open a medical marijuana dispensary or cultivation center. The number of licenses are quite limited &ndash; only 22 available for cultivation centers and 60 for dispensaries.</p><p>Michelle West is hoping to be awarded a license to open a cultivation center. She&rsquo;s a nurse who originally set out to research how legalization would affect her job, but instead she found a business opportunity.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not only a business opportunity for a person, but for economic development for a community, for a neighborhood,&rdquo; West said.</p><p>The Illinois Department of Agriculture will sift through the many applications that are expected to be submitted. Officials are looking at six specific areas: the proposed facility, staffing and operations, security, cultivation, product safety and labeling and business and financial disclosure.</p><p>West said she&rsquo;s been researching the industry for the past year. Her 300 plus page plan includes economic growth all the way down to different types of cannabis plants. Most applicants have brought on consultants from other states that have already legalized medical marijuana. West is no different.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of the other people I met, they spent a ton of money on consultants. Consultants are important, yet I was hesitant. I found one because I have to know my plan, inside out,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>In addition to attending conferences, West hired a consultant from Colorado who&#39;s gotten underperforming cultivation centers back up to top production.</p><p>The competition to run dispensaries and cultivation centers in the Chicago market will be very tough. West lives in the city, but decided to look elsewhere to set up her cultivation center. She eventually found a rural town in Police District 6.</p><p>She presented her plans to the town&rsquo;s council members and that night they decided to support her. The town preferred she not disclose the name until a license is actually awarded.</p><p>&ldquo;It was amazing the support because people want jobs. Everyone in the town, all the jobs had left. So people have to drive 40 miles away, 50 miles away. Some are driving into Chicago and then they&rsquo;re driving back home,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>West visited other towns that had mixed views on the legalization of medical marijuana. For this particular community, the cultivation center looks like a path to economic recovery. That&rsquo;s part of the deal they have with West. Their decision to back her means their community members would get first dibs at the job openings.</p><p>&ldquo;The plan that I have, it includes not only hiring younger people, but there&rsquo;s been a lot of people over 50 that have been downsized or they couldn&rsquo;t find a job and they keep trying to find a job. If they&rsquo;re willing to be retrained or work within the facility, they&rsquo;re going to have a job, too,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>West has written an employee handbook that includes wages starting at around $12 an hour with benefits.</p><p>She found a potential property in the area. She&rsquo;s already crafted plans for year-round growing and plans to scale in the years following.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>Security Plan</strong></span></p><p>State officials are making security a high priority for all applications. They see the future cannabis facilities as major targets for crime, since they will deal with large amounts of cash and drugs.</p><p>Joel Brumlik works in law enforcement and he&rsquo;s been running his suburban security company, Tactical Security since 2007. He started researching how he could profit after the state legalized medical marijuana.</p><p>&ldquo;Right now, we have a significant investment in this. A lot of time, a lot of studying, a lot of resources expended. We&rsquo;ve been involved in two or three conferences. We&rsquo;re going to be in one in Las Vegas. These aren&rsquo;t cheap,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Tactical Security has been training officers specifically for medical marijuana, everything from use of force to patient hospitality, even how to inspect a facility according to the state&rsquo;s rules and regulations.</p><p>Brumlik prides himself on the hefty 70 plus page security plan he&rsquo;s written up. He says he&rsquo;s fielded at least a dozen calls from potential medical marijuana businesses and already has a few signed contracts.</p><p>He says his competition seems to be based mostly on price.</p><p>&ldquo;Yes, our company may be charging you a higher price per hour, but what is your cost? And when I say &lsquo;what is your cost&rsquo;, what I&rsquo;m saying is, is that if you don&rsquo;t have the right people, the highly trained people, then your cost might be a lot higher than you believe if you&rsquo;re just going by the price,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>But some security experts say it isn&rsquo;t necessary to have such specific tailoring for the marijuana industry. Eugene Ferraro is a security consultant based in Colorado. He calls it a marketing ploy.</p><p>&ldquo;The tailoring that&rsquo;s necessary to provide services to a marijuana retailer have very small differences from other types of retailers or operations whether it&rsquo;s manufacturing or distribution operations,&rdquo; Ferraro said.</p><p>He says bigger security companies have been staying away from cannabis to avoid any potential legal issues. But he&rsquo;s definitely seen specialized companies gaining a lot of business.</p><p>&ldquo;The small operators, the mom and pop alarm companies, the mom and pop guard companies have some opportunity here,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Ferraro says Illinois&rsquo; emphasis on security is overkill and that the cost will be passed down to the consumers, which might create another problem of pushing people to the black market.</p><p>Brumlik doesn&rsquo;t see it that way and says every dispensary he visited in Colorado had been broken into.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not interested in trying to compete on a level where we&rsquo;re just trying to put warm bodies in there,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>Financing</strong></span></p><p>It&rsquo;s going to take anyone who&rsquo;s awarded a license a lot of money to open and operate the marijuana facility. For West, she needs to pay a $25,000 non-refundable application fee, and she also needs to show she has $500,000 in liquid assets. If she&rsquo;s awarded the license, she&rsquo;ll have to pay a $200,000 permit fee, not to mention the cost it takes to run any type of business.</p><p>Financing and banking has been tricky for business owners in states that are already well into their legalized marijuana programs. Illinois will be no different.</p><p>Even ancillary businesses are finding it difficult to find a bank just to make a simple deposit.</p><p>&ldquo;Difficult is such an understatement. It was the bane of my existence for 90 days,&rdquo; said venture capitalist David Friedman.</p><p>Recently, the Chicago businessman added another title to his resume; publisher. He started a news website called Marijuana Investor News.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t understand why Bloomberg can run stories about medical marijuana, but we can&rsquo;t. And I&rsquo;m sure, I understand now about the banking regulations and everyone&rsquo;s just very cautious about anything that has to do with it. We did ultimately find a bank because it&rsquo;s ridiculous that we shouldn&rsquo;t,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Friedman is being approached by entrepreneurs for investments into their proposed dispensaries and cultivation centers. He says since the final rules were approved he hasn&rsquo;t slept much.</p><p>Troy Dayton is CEO of the Arcview Group, a California-based national investment and research firm focused on cannabis. A lot of accredited investors in the marijuana industry are members of the group, including David Friedman. It has some of the first angel investors in the sector.</p><p>Dayton said Illinois&rsquo; program might be more difficult to finance with all the restrictions and a possibility of the pilot program sunsetting in a few years.</p><p>&ldquo;[Business owners] had better have a lot of money in the bank because it may be a long ramp up before they can make their businesses profitable,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>According to Arcview&rsquo;s annual report, the industry is expected to grow to $2.6 billion in 2014.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s a 68 percent growth in one year. Making it the fastest growing industry in America. &nbsp;And growing to 10.2 billion dollar industry by 2018,&rdquo; Dayton said.</p><p>Another challenge businesses are likely to face is a high tax rate. Marijuana is categorized as a Schedule 1 illegal substance, next to heroin and LSD. The Internal Revenue Service has a code to tax illegal drug income, up to 50 percent.</p><p>Dooma Wendschuh, CEO of Ebbu, a Colorado cannabis company said it takes a lot of work to keep your business completely above board in this federally illegal industry.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re really limited in who you can raise that money from. You can&rsquo;t go to Sand Hill Road with a couple of baggies of your product and expect to raise your money. It just doesn&rsquo;t work like that,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Sand Hill Road is an area in California with a lot venture capital companies.</p><p>But Wendschuh thinks the opportunity in marijuana is bigger than the Internet and tech boom if you&rsquo;re willing to take the risk.</p><p>He looks at it like alcohol after prohibition. Laws were left for states to determine individually. Some counties remain dry even today. It took companies some years after prohibition to feel comfortable enough to even promote their product.</p><p>Wendschuh says for the first several years after prohibition, bootlegging was big and the black market thrived.</p><p>&ldquo;Of course it was cheaper than buying alcohol at a licensed facility. But hey look right now. If you wanted to go buy bootleg alcohol could you even find it? I don&rsquo;t know where you would find it,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>He says eventually the alcohol industry became less taboo. People wanted to buy from a reputable source rather than a cheaper, criminal operation. Product pricing evened out and financing was easier.</p><p>Wendschuh believes the cannabis industry isn&rsquo;t far from seeing relaxation of federal regulations, and marijuana could follow the path of alcohol.</p><p><em>Susie An is WBEZ&rsquo;s business reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/soosieon">@soosieon</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 08 Sep 2014 07:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-begins-accepting-applications-marijuana-businesses-110764