WBEZ | Work http://www.wbez.org/sections/work Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Southwest Side braces for loss of Oreos, and 600 jobs http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/southwest-side-braces-loss-oreos-and-600-jobs-112739 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Oreos_resize1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Growing up in the 1950s, Jim Capraro remembers the sweet aroma of cookies that wafted through homes on the Southwest Side, one of the perks of living near the giant Nabisco plant at 73rd and Kedzie.</p><p dir="ltr">Capraro says he used to tease relatives who lived several miles away.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;My cousins who lived in the Back of the Yards lived next to the stockyards and we used to say our smells are better than your smells,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">Decades later Capraro got to visit the factory &mdash; then the biggest bakery in the world &mdash; and witnessed a Willy Wonka-like operation.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The top floor is a whole floor of these huge mix masters. Each one of them looks like an 18-foot swimming pool,&rdquo; Capraro said. &ldquo;The flour and sugar and chocolate all goes to the top floor and then the dough is put on conveyor belts and it&rsquo;s actually gravity that brings them down to the second floor where they&rsquo;re cut into cookie shapes.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Oreo cookies, one of Nabisco&#39;s most beloved, best-selling brands was baked there. But that will soon change.</p><p dir="ltr">Parent company Mondelez International is shipping the production of the cookie, and 600 jobs, to Mexico instead of upgrading the local facility.</p><p dir="ltr">For years, Oreos and other iconic brands like Chips Ahoy generated huge profits and provided thousands of well-paid union jobs. Many lived in the surrounding neighborhoods of Chicago Lawn, West Lawn and Marquette Park.</p><p dir="ltr">Then, more than 20 years ago parent company RJ Reynolds threatened to move those jobs out of state. By this time, Capraro led the Greater Southwest Development Corporation.</p><p dir="ltr">He remembers getting a call from Valerie Jarrett, Chicago&rsquo;s commissioner of planning and development at the time. Jarrett is now a top adviser to President Barack Obama. Back then she worked with Capraro to keep the plant on the Southwest Side by giving Nabisco $300 million in tax increment financing dollars. The TIF money helped pay for infrastructure improvements.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I justified in my own mind working to support them. One was that &lsquo;the jobs would stay here,&rsquo; I thought, forever. Turns out I may be very wrong on that,&rdquo; Capraro said.</p><p dir="ltr">This summer Nabisco&rsquo;s current parent company, Deerfield-based Mondelez International announced it was shipping 600 jobs &mdash; half the plant&rsquo;s workforce &mdash; to Mexico.</p><p dir="ltr">That could affect Michael Smith, a utility worker at the plant. He said workers often wore shirts of the snack they baked.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We proudly wore that shirt because we represented a company that said you produce a product that&rsquo;s televised, that&rsquo;s on the radio and kids and adults alike across the country love,&rdquo; Smith said.</p><p dir="ltr">Fellow worker Sabrina Pope is known as the Oreo queen. She&rsquo;s a processor at Nabisco who earns more than $26 an hour. The 35-year veteran originally had only planned to stay for three.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The pay was good. I was raising a son at the time and it was the American Dream that I had security there. I had security,&rdquo; Pope said. &ldquo;Right now, I don&rsquo;t even know what my future&rsquo;s going to bring because I&rsquo;m not old enough to retire. I got the years to retire but I just don&rsquo;t have the age to do it.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The city said it wanted to work with Mondelez to keep the jobs here and discussed various incentives, but the company never took officials up on it.</p><p dir="ltr">Mondelez officials said its upgraded facility in Salinas, Mexico will open in the middle of next year. The jobs in Chicago will be phased out and Oreos will be made at other U.S. sites. Company officials said the Nabisco plant won&rsquo;t shut down entirely.</p><p dir="ltr">But Jim Capraro worries about the future of an area that already has a higher unemployment rate than the city&rsquo;s average.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It was places like Nabisco and the companies around it that gave me hope that we could offer alternatives to the underground economy that exists on the South Side of the city to young people who need to live, who need to work,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">Capraro points to another big plant that used to be on the Southwest Side. More than a decade ago the Kraft-owned Kool-Aid factory closed its doors.</p><p dir="ltr">Hundreds of jobs were lost and never came back.</p><p dir="ltr"><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" target="_blank">Natalie Moore</a>&nbsp;is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter.<a href="mailto:mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>.&nbsp;You can follow Natalie on&nbsp;<a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" target="_blank">Google+</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore" target="_blank">Twitter</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 16:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/southwest-side-braces-loss-oreos-and-600-jobs-112739 Global Activism in India: Pravah helps youth overcome caste, sexism and religious intolerance http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-india-pravah-helps-youth-overcome-caste-sexism-and-religious <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/india%20ga%20pravah%20manisha%20and%20husband.JPG" title="Manisha emotionally talks of how much of India society considered education wasted on a woman from a lower class. But after working with the NGO, Pravah, she and her husband - pictured - are inspired to achieve. Manisha is now a business owner. Taken at Pravah's Delhi offices February 1, 2015 (Photo by Steve Bynum)" /></div><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-ebcdae0c-3049-7fee-9931-6c6284daf4f9">We continue our <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/water/special-series-global-activism-worldview-visits-india-111888">Global Activism in India</a> series with a visit to Delhi. We and <a href="http://idsusa.org/">India Development Service</a>, met with the NGO, Community Youth Collective Learning and Leadership Journey is a partnering initiative of the NGO, <a href="http://pravah.org/">Pravah</a>. The project tries to inspire India&rsquo;s youth to become leaders and overcome traditional societal barriers, such as <span id="docs-internal-guid-ebcdae0c-3049-7fee-9931-6c6284daf4f9">caste, sexism and religious intolerance</span>. Pravah received attention when co- director, Neha Buch, introduced President Obama before one of his speeches during his visit to India. We&rsquo;ll chat with co-director, Sonal Chaturvedi and young people about how they now dream and achieve in areas that at one time were cut off from them.</span></p><p><strong>Jerome McDonnell and Steve Bynum of WBEZ&#39;s <em>Worldview</em> and </strong><strong>India Development Service (IDS)</strong><strong> share their adventures in India</strong></p><p>Sunday, May 17th, 2015, 5:00pm-7:30pm</p><p>The Meadows Club</p><p>2950 Golf Road, Rolling Meadows</p><p>Free of Charge - Dinner Included</p><p><strong><a href="https://mycity.sulekha.com/development-unveiled_buy_2090130">Reserve Tickets Here</a></strong></p></p> Thu, 07 May 2015 13:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-india-pravah-helps-youth-overcome-caste-sexism-and-religious Global Activism: 'Right To Be Free' helps enslaved children in Ghana http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-right-be-free-helps-enslaved-children-ghana-110952 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Ga-Rigght to be free.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-c3432a21-19bd-c013-080f-fe7081a2dc3d">We met Lori Dillon last February about her story to create a local branch of the NGO, <a href="http://righttobefree.org/">Right To Be Free</a>. She did it to support her friend, Ghanaian <a href="http://www.rightobefree.org/">Eric Peasah</a> &ldquo;who has dedicated his life to the rescue and rehabilitation of <a href="http://righttobefree.org/senyos-story.html">trafficked children</a>.&rdquo; For </span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism"><em>Global Activism</em></a>, Lori is back, with Eric, who came from Ghana to spread awareness about slavery and indentured servitude of children in his country.</p></p> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 08:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-right-be-free-helps-enslaved-children-ghana-110952 Chicago's red "X": Meaning, myths and limitations http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-red-x-meaning-myths-and-limitations-110315 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/153918243&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: We have an <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-quietly-phasing-out-red-x-program-110924" target="_blank">update to this story</a>, which expands on the red &quot;X&quot; program&#39;s lack of funding.</em></p><p>While walking around her Logan Square neighborhood Chicagoan Poppy Coleman noticed something peculiar about two rundown buildings: They bore metal signs emblazoned with a large red &quot;X.&quot;</p><p>Poppy says she wanted to know more, including: &ldquo;Who they were for, maybe what department put them up, and if it was something that I should know about.&rdquo; So, she sent Curious City this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What do those red &quot;X&quot; signs mean on buildings?</em></p><p>She&rsquo;s not the only one who&rsquo;s confused. Since 2012, red &quot;X&quot; signs have popped up on nearly 2,000 properties around Chicago. It&rsquo;s not hard to find <a href="http://www.trulia.com/voices/Home_Buying/Are_the_red_X_buildings_for_sale_-613697" target="_blank">people posting in online forums</a>, wondering aloud whether the red &quot;X&quot; means a building&rsquo;s condemned, vacant or for sale.</p><p>But in the course of reporting an answer for Poppy, we encountered hard questions about the program that supports red &ldquo;X&rdquo; signage, including whether the city&rsquo;s doing enough to communicate its intentions. We also turned up some surprising news: This program, meant to save the lives of first responders and others, has <a href="#money">run out of money</a>.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The sign&rsquo;s origins: A mayday call</span></p><p>On Dec. 22, 2010, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCPw1aiQDO8" target="_blank">firefighters were searching for squatters inside a burning, long-vacant laundromat </a>on the 1700 block of East 75th Street, in Chicago&rsquo;s South Shore neighborhood. As firefighters continued their sweep of the building, a wall fell and then the roof collapsed, killing firefighters Edward Stringer and Corey Ankum. Nineteen others were injured.</p><p>&ldquo;When I first became alderman, one of the first visits that I paid was to Fire Chief Mark Neilsen,&rdquo; said 50th Ward Ald. Debra Silverstein, who sponsored two city ordinances in response. The first ordinance, passed in 2011, required the department to catalogue buildings with bowstring truss construction, a <a href="http://www.firefighternation.com/article/firefighter-safety/bowstring-truss-roof-construction-hazards" target="_blank">variety that&rsquo;s prone to collapse during fires</a>.</p><p>Silverstein&rsquo;s second ordinance sought to find and mark all of Chicago&rsquo;s dangerous buildings. For that program they decided on rectangular metal signs displaying a big red &quot;X&quot;, a symbol used by fire departments in New York City and other some other cities. <a href="http://dart.arc.nasa.gov/Recon/BUILDI~1Rev1.pdf" target="_blank">That iconography comes from a federal program for marking vacant structures</a>.</p><p>Chicago doesn&rsquo;t assign red &quot;X&quot; signs to just any vacant or abandoned building; a sign is a visual cue that a structure is structurally unsound and that firefighters and other first responders should take precautions when responding to emergencies there. It&rsquo;s also an extra reminder for anyone who might wander into a vacant building &mdash; which is illegal already &mdash; that they should stay out.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Making a list</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Trip.jpg" style="width: 350px; float: right; height: 700px;" title="All three vacant buildings are marked with the red X, but display varying levels of disrepair. No signage indicates dangerous, structural disrepair. (WBEZ/Shawn Allee - Kathy Chaney)" /></p><p>Since Silverstein&rsquo;s <a href="http://chicagocouncilmatic.org/legislation/1135934" target="_blank">ordinance</a> passed in June 2012, the Chicago Fire Department has placed red &quot;X&quot; signs on 1,804 buildings. That&rsquo;s less than half of the more than 5,000 vacant properties registered in the city &mdash; itself a fraction of the estimated total of <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/bldgs/dataset/vacant_and_abandonedbuildingsservicerequests.html" target="_blank">vacant and abandoned buildings in Chicago</a> &mdash; but CFD Spokesman Larry Langford says it&rsquo;s a start.</p><p>&ldquo;We picked 1,800 that we wanted to get marked right away,&rdquo; he says. When the program started, Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Buildings sent over a list of structurally unsound properties for CFD to add to as they saw fit. The list from the Department of Buildings included a few hundred properties deemed more than 35 percent deteriorated.</p><p>Langford says &ldquo;It&rsquo;s based on structural damage rotting in some cases, vandalism, previous fire, the overall integrity of the building, what&rsquo;s missing from the building, if there are holes in the floor, porch in bad condition, roof about to go &mdash; things that might make it difficult for a fireman to work the fire, or for the building to come down quickly during a fire.&rdquo;</p><p>That list quickly grew to 1,800. Firemen took note of vacant buildings as they did their rounds, checking out potentially unsafe structures and adding to the initial list of red &quot;X&quot; candidates.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&lsquo;They&rsquo;re everywhere&rsquo;</span></p><p>Records obtained by WBEZ show the city often put up dozens of signs at a time in parts of the city with a lot of vacant and structurally unsound buildings.</p><p>Poppy Coleman joined Curious City Editor Shawn Allee and reporter Chris Bentley for a short canvas of the South Side&rsquo;s Englewood neighborhood, which has hundreds of buildings sporting the signs.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe align="middle" frameborder="0" height="620" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/redx/embed.html#/?address=7000%20S%20Normal%20Ave%2C%20Chicago%2C%20IL%2C%20United%20States&amp;radius=805interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/redx/embed.html" width="620"></iframe></p><blockquote><p><em>(Curious City canvassed portions of the Englewood neighborhood near the intersection of 70th and Normal. There are 55 red &quot;X&quot; signs posted within a half-mile of the intersection. Map: <a href="http://wbez.is/1hMvplH" target="_blank">See the signs across the city and search by address</a>)</em></p></blockquote><p>Most of the residents we talked to around the intersection of 70th and South Normal Avenue described waking up to find several houses on their block marked with red &quot;X&quot; signs. The signs never go unnoticed, but neighbors are often confused about what they mean.</p><p>&ldquo;For some reason the red &lsquo;X&rsquo; became something totally different than what we intended it to be,&rdquo; said Langford. &rdquo;I thought they were kidding me when they said it, but some people thought that those were the buildings that were being targeted by the drones when the next war started, and that the red &lsquo;X&rsquo; is a drone target.&rdquo;</p><p>The department has largely left it up to aldermen and their offices to publicize the signs&rsquo; purpose. Langford says people have called to ask the fire department if red &ldquo;X&rdquo; buildings are part of a program by the city to sell distressed property at a discount, or to pillory property owners whose taxes are in arrears.</p><p>&ldquo;It has nothing to do with ownership, it&rsquo;s not a part of any kind of program to do anything with the buildings. For the most part they&rsquo;re privately owned,&rdquo; Langford says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just a marking for danger. It&rsquo;s really just that simple.&rdquo;</p><p>Simple, perhaps, but there&rsquo;s a lot of confusion in areas where red &quot;X&quot;s are common. If these signs are here to save lives &mdash; both those of firefighters and anyone who might think of trespassing on potentially dangerous abandoned properties &mdash; is everyone on the same page?</p><p>There are several red &quot;X&quot; buildings on the 6900 block of S. Normal, where Maria Johnson lives. But her next door neighbor is an abandoned building that doesn&rsquo;t have a red &quot;X&quot;. She says just because a building&rsquo;s deemed vacant doesn&rsquo;t mean it&rsquo;s unoccupied.</p><p>&ldquo;Homeless people, people with nowhere to stay,&rdquo; said Johnson, who has lived on this block for three years. &ldquo;I know they went into the &nbsp;building next to me and someone set it on fire, it caught onto my crib. So I don&rsquo;t know if they were living in there, or getting high, or whatever, but I know there were some homeless people going through the back door.&rdquo;</p><p>There&rsquo;s no signage explaining the red &quot;X&quot; &mdash; just the &ldquo;X&rdquo; itself &mdash; so if you want answers, you have to find them yourself. Most of the people we asked in Englewood thought the red &ldquo;X&rdquo; marked buildings for demolition. Earl Liggins was one of the few people who knew what the signs&rsquo; real meaning, but that&rsquo;s only because he took matters into his own hands.</p><p>&ldquo;I called the alderman&rsquo;s office and I heard it from the alderman people themselves,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I was just concerned because there are so many of them. I was just wondering what does it mean, are they going to tear this many buildings down? I just wanted to know straight from them, what the situation was.&rdquo;</p><p>Liggins lives in a formerly vacant building on the 7000 block of S. Normal that he fixed up a few years ago. But he says whether they have a red &quot;X&quot; or not, most vacant buildings in his neighborhood stay that way.</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/untitled-3.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Earl Liggins, right, lives in a formerly vacant building on the 7000 block of S. Normal. Fifty-five red ‘X’ buildings lie within half a mile. (WBEZ/Shawn Allee) " /></p><p>&ldquo;For the most part they stay vacant forever,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;The condition of the building gets worse and worse. That building across the street &mdash; I&rsquo;ve been here 10 years and that building has been vacant for about ten years.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Removing the red &lsquo;X&rsquo;</span></p><p>There is a process to rehabilitate vacant and abandoned properties, but the city requires owners to obtain special permission before performing work on red x structures. Two years after the program began, however, <a href="https://www.chicagoreporter.com/reclaiming-avenue" target="_blank">only one building has successfully been repaired and had its red &quot;X&quot; legally removed</a>.</p><p>The next red &quot;X&quot; property to move off the list might be one of the buildings that originally sparked question asker Poppy Coleman&rsquo;s curiosity: 2800 W. Logan Blvd. A fire ravaged the three-story building last summer, but owner Darko Tesanovic <a href="http://webapps.cityofchicago.org/buildingpermit/search/extendedapplicationstatus.htm?permitNumber=100480840" target="_blank">got a city permit</a> earlier this year to repair the damages and turn a ground-floor dwelling unit into retail space. If he finishes the repairs, Tesanovic could be only the second landlord in Chicago to legally remove a red &quot;X&quot; from his building. In the meantime he says the X isn&rsquo;t impeding his redevelopment efforts, but it might be adding to neighborhood anxieties about the vacant property.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not bothered by it,&rdquo; Tesanovic says. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s creating more confusion for the neighborhood than myself, because people in the neighborhood don&rsquo;t know what it means.&rdquo;</p><p>Our question asker was glad to learn what the red &quot;X&quot; means, but she still wonders about its impact. Many of the <a href="http://wbez.is/1hMvplH" target="_blank">neighborhoods with high concentrations of red &quot;X&quot; signs</a> are already reeling from a downward spiral of disinvestment, blight and declining property values. She&rsquo;s worried red &quot;X&quot;s are like scarlet letters &mdash; just another obstacle in a rough neighborhood&rsquo;s struggle to improve its station.</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/untitled-4.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Chicagoan Poppy Coleman, left, asked Curious City about the meaning behind more than 1,800 red ‘X’ signs posted on buildings across Chicago. (WBEZ/Curious City) " /></p><p>&ldquo;My disappointment is that once the &lsquo;X&rsquo; is up, it doesn&rsquo;t sound like there&rsquo;s any support to help move that building to a next phase, either to get it sold, get it taken care of, get it torn down,&rdquo; Coleman says in the shade beside a boarded-up red &quot;X&quot; building on the 7000 block of South Eggleston Avenue. &ldquo;Putting the &lsquo;X&rsquo; on it seems to be where the program stops.&rdquo;</p><p>Ald. Debra Silverstein, who sponsored the original red &quot;X&quot; ordinance, says she&rsquo;d be open to the city forming a task force charged with helping city agencies work together to resuscitate ailing properties after the fire department marks them.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not aware of any talk about the different departments working together specifically on the red &quot;X&quot;, but I highly encourage that,&rdquo; Silverstein says. &ldquo;I think we&rsquo;re all better off if all the different departments work together and form a task force to solve some of these issues. That&rsquo;s really important to get things taken care of.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><a name="money"></a>Out of money</span></p><p>While in Englewood, we ask the CFD&#39;s Larry Langford whether it makes sense to let the public know more about the meaning behind the &quot;X&quot; &mdash;maybe by putting up a smaller, less permanent sign explaining it&#39;s dangerous to enter such buildings.</p><p>&ldquo;If we expand the program, that&rsquo;s a suggestion that will be made,&quot; he says. &quot;It might cut some of the confusion down. Put a permanent sign up, put an adhesive sign up &mdash; could be.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Whether they&rsquo;ll get a chance to do that is an open question, because this program that was meant to save lives has run out of money. The city received $675,000 from <a href="http://www.fema.gov/welcome-assistance-firefighters-grant-program" target="_blank">the Federal Emergency Management Agency&rsquo;s Assistance to Firefighters grant program</a> to fund the red &quot;X&quot; program. Most of that federal grant money went to two local contractors: AGAE Contractors and M-K Signs.</p><p>Data obtained by WBEZ show the city spent all of that money over thirteen months starting in June of 2012, and <a href="http://wbez.is/1uNLXMp" target="_blank">hasn&rsquo;t put up any new red &quot;X&quot; signs since July 2013</a>.</p><p>Ald. Debra Silverstein, who sponsored the original red &ldquo;X&rdquo; ordinance, says she&rsquo;s eager to find more money for the program. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s office did not return requests for comment. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We wish it would be funded for a longer period of time, but yes we think it was a success,&rdquo; says the CFD&rsquo;s Larry Langford. &ldquo;Are there more than 1,800 that could be marked? Absolutely. But we&rsquo;re not doing anything until we get more funding.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">Chris Bentley</a> is a reporter for Curious City and a freelance journalist. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>. <a href="https://twitter.com/shawnallee" target="_blank">Shawn Allee</a> is Curious City&#39;s editor. <a href="https://twitter.com/chrishagan" target="_blank">Chris Hagan</a> is a WBEZ web producer and data expert, and&nbsp;</em><em><a href="https://twitter.com/kathychaney" target="_blank">Kathy Chaney</a>&nbsp;is a WBEZ producer.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 10 Jun 2014 16:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-red-x-meaning-myths-and-limitations-110315 Chicago garbage collectors: Will they really take that? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-garbage-collectors-will-they-really-take-109881 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/140433257&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>WBEZ listener Ken Coulman has been having dirty thoughts, specifically regarding the garbage in his alleyway. He&rsquo;s seen all kinds of dumping habits, from random contractors offloading items behind his house to neighbors sneakily leaving oversized items in alleyways not their own. In their stealthy haste, they make a mess.</p><p>As a homeowner in Chicago&rsquo;s Humboldt Park neighborhood, these behaviors troubled Ken. Recently, when he spotted a stack of old tires piled by the garbage, he called Curious City with this question:<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ken_curiouscity.jpg" style="width: 150px; height: 200px; float: right;" title="Ken Coulman asked Curious City about the limits of garbage removal. (Photo courtesy Ken Coulman)" /></p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What&rsquo;s the city&rsquo;s official policy on garbage pick up? Do they take anything that you put out?</em></p><p>While taking on Ken&rsquo;s question, we learned that a pretty straightforward pickup policy provides some city workers with a unique &mdash; and sometimes unflattering &mdash; view of life in Chicago.</p><p><strong>Size doesn&rsquo;t matter</strong></p><p>For our answer, we turned to Gloria Pittman, a supervisor at Chicago&rsquo;s Bureau of Sanitation, which serves 600,000 households in Chicago. These households are limited to single-family homes or buildings with four units or less. Pittman oversees garbage collection for seven wards from Pilsen to Jackson Park. She&rsquo;s previously worked on the front lines as a garbage collector herself.</p><p>We met Pittman at her office on the Southwest Side and asked Ken&rsquo;s question: Is there a limit to what you&rsquo;ll take?</p><p>&ldquo;We will pick up almost anything,&rdquo; Pittman said. &ldquo;It is our objective to pick up everything that&rsquo;s in front of the truck, be it trash, sofas, on occasion electronics such as refrigerators, stoves.&rdquo;</p><p>In other words, size doesn&rsquo;t matter. There&rsquo;s no size limit to what residents are allowed to throw out, as long as it&rsquo;s regular household garbage.</p><p>The department accommodates big items with what&rsquo;s called &ldquo;a special pick up.&rdquo; That&rsquo;s simply a heads-up to garbage collectors to carve out more time. While picking up a few regular canisters outside one house takes about 30 seconds, disposing of something more sizable, like a sectional couch, may take a few minutes. That heads-up can help make the process more efficient.</p><p>Pittman said collectors are usually notified by supervisors who monitor the alleys. But preferably, the notification originates from residents who call Chicago&rsquo;s 311 service line. Pittman says you can <a href="https://servicerequest.cityofchicago.org/web_intake_chic/Controller?op=locform&amp;invSRType=SCC&amp;invSRDesc=Garbage%20Pickup&amp;locreq=Y">request additional garbage bins</a> online, if need be.</p><p>&ldquo;Notification from the resident really helps us out a great deal,&rdquo; said Pittman.</p><p>Chicagoans in the tattling mood can also help by <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/streets/provdrs/streets_san/svcs/sanitation_ordinance.html">reporting persistent sanitation code violations</a>.</p><p><strong>Down in&nbsp;the dumps &hellip; at a special collection</strong></p><p><img alt="" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/Garbage+gifs/USE+2.gif" style="width: 320px; height: 180px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 0px; float: right;" /><img alt="" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/Garbage+gifs/USE+1.gif" style="width: 320px; height: 180px; margin: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; float: right;" /></p><p>To see how a regular pick-up differs from a special pick-up, we ventured into the back alleys in Chicago&#39;s Gage Park neighborhood on the Southwest Side.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/Garbage+gifs/USE+3.gif" style="width: 320px; height: 180px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 0px; float: right;" />A blue sanitation truck rolled through a snow-covered alley. Two workers hooked trash bins onto something called &ldquo;the flip,&rdquo; which, as its name implies, flips bins upside down into the truck. A heavy blade crushed and scooped the trash into the inner chamber.</p><p>Hook. Flip. Crush. Repeat.</p><div>The workers had a nice rhythm &mdash; until they ran across what looked like the remnants of an extreme home makeover. Pittman was on site and surveyed the heap of furniture.</div><p>&ldquo;This is a loveseat, a desk, parts of a table, an end table, a couple mattresses, some chairs and an ottoman,&rdquo; she said, laughing.</p><p>The garbage collectors declined an interview. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s kind of dangerous when I talk and work,&rdquo; said one as he reached for a piece of furniture.</p><p>And he was right. There was heavy lifting to do. A crushing blade tore through wood and nails. Sharp debris spit out the back. I watched a mattress flop into the back of the truck. It splintered into pieces.</p><p>&ldquo;And as you see, the blade is breaking that up and taking it on in,&rdquo; Pittman observed. &ldquo;It basically makes room as it goes along.&rdquo;</p><p>Eight minutes later, it&rsquo;s all been gobbled up.</p><p>&ldquo;As you can see, everything is gone. Hopefully the residents are happy,&rdquo; said Pittman.</p><p><strong>Some limits do apply</strong></p><p>Even though there&rsquo;s no size limit, Pittman noted that there are other kinds of limits. Most Chicago residents think, &ldquo;If it&rsquo;s garbage to you, it should be garbage to us,&rdquo; but that&rsquo;s simply not the case, she said.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/pittman%20mug%20shot.png" style="float: left; height: 162px; width: 240px;" title="Gloria Pittman supervises trash collection for the city's Department of Streets and Sanitation, and was a previous garbage collector. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" />For example, say you rehab a room by yourself. You can throw the debris in the garbage. It&rsquo;s no problem, at least when it comes to city policy. But if a contractor does it for you, that contractor is required to take away the refuse. But not all residents abide by that rule; Pittman has seen plenty of instances where an entire gut renovation has been dumped in an alley. In those cases, the department has a conversation with the resident.</p><p>&ldquo;We try not to fine,&rdquo; said Pittman, noting that the department focuses on communicating expectations with residents. &ldquo;We want compliance.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s also a hassle when residents don&rsquo;t bag their trash properly. &ldquo;When they have to clean up things that people have just thrown out willy nilly &mdash; that kind of breaks up their rhythm,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Another problem is fly dumping. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s where a large truck or car has dumped a large amount of garbage &mdash; usually in desolate areas,&rdquo; explained Pittman.</p><p>The Bureau of Sanitation will not collect hazardous materials and certain electronics such as computers and cell phones. Residents can dispose of these items, such as household cleaners and oil-based paints, at the city&rsquo;s Household Chemicals and Computer Recycling Facility. The city provides information about <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdph/supp_info/hccrf/household_chemicalscomputerrecyclingfacilityoverview.html">that facility and what it accepts</a>.</p><p>The worst thing Pittman&rsquo;s ever run across? Dead animals and human waste. Pittman said residents with dead pets should call 311; a refrigerated truck will do the pick up. And as for human waste, well, come on now.</p><p>Pittman let us in on one of the classic jokes among garbage collectors. &ldquo;You can find out a lot about people with the trash that they throw out.&rdquo;<a name="pittmanguide"></a></p><p><strong>A reason for hope</strong></p><p>I followed up with our question-asker, Ken Coulman, to get his reaction to all of this. The dead animal and human waste details certainly grossed him out.</p><p>&ldquo;Eeh &hellip; that&rsquo;s not cool,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>But when I explained the no-size limit policy, he was surprised.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s not at all what I was expecting to find out,&rdquo; he said after a long pause.</p><p>He was also relieved.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s very interesting because I&rsquo;ve always kind of felt like you&rsquo;re probably doing something illegal by putting those big items out there,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s helpful to know that you don&rsquo;t need to be sneaky about it. You can call 311 and give them a heads up and be civil about it.&rdquo;</p><p>To Ken, this is good news. He hopes that now that people know they don&rsquo;t have to be sneaky, they&rsquo;ll stop being so sloppy.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s hoping, Ken.</p><p><em>Deborah Jian Lee is a freelance journalist and author. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/deborahjianlee">@deborahjianlee</a>.</em></p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="0.298379093615614" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="2078" id="doc_31924" scrolling="no" src="//www.scribd.com/embeds/213213263/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-18roq0sks1i1w0u8ngou&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="620"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 18 Mar 2014 17:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-garbage-collectors-will-they-really-take-109881 Cabrini-Green ready for final phase of redevelopment http://www.wbez.org/sections/work/cabrini-green-ready-final-phase-redevelopment-109609 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/CHA.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">The Chicago Housing Authority is speeding up construction of the final 65 acres at Cabrini-Green still open for redevelopment.</p><p>Cabrini-Green started its transformation from public to mixed-income housing in 1994 when the federal government awarded a <a href="http://tellingourstory.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/CONSENT-DECREE.pdf" target="_blank">$50 million HOPE VI Grant </a>to facilitate redevelopment of the Cabrini Extension North site. Over the years high- and mid-rise apartments fell to demolition. Two decades later, the once-poor Near North Side neighborhood now teems with luxury condos and new businesses like Starbucks.</p><p>Next week, CHA officials will hold open houses for developers who will learn what parameters the agency has designed for construction of new housing and retail. The land boundaries are North Avenue to Chicago Avenue and Halsted to Orleans.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve gathered this approach so that we could be able to work with multiple developers at one time and to have multiple parcels delivered in an expedient fashion,&rdquo; said Sharnette Brown, development manager for CHA.</p><p>Brown said this will give CHA more control of redevelopment.</p><p>Cabrini&rsquo;s revamping was a prelude to CHA&rsquo;s 1999 Plan for Transformation, the $1.6 billion blueprint to build or rehab 25,000 public housing units with mixed-income housing as the centerpiece. That formula is one-third market rate, one-third affordable and one-third public. The plan &ndash; scheduled for 2015 completion &ndash; has run into economic and housing slump roadblocks.</p><p>Last spring CHA unveiled <a href="http://www.wbez.org/cha-reveals-next-phase-massive-public-housing-redevelopment-106757" target="_blank">Plan Forward </a>as a way to wrap up the final stretch. Former CHA CEO Charles Woodyard <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/former-cha-ceo-woodyard-resigned-amid-sexual-harassment-allegations-109182" target="_blank">resigned last fall amid sexual harassment allegations</a>, but also because City Hall became disenchanted with the slow pace of progress.</p><p>The goal is for Cabrini construction to start by 2015 on the mostly vacant 65 acres. The Cabrini rowhouses will remain but not be 100 percent public housing &ndash; much to the chagrin of many residents. Of the 583 units, 146 have been redeveloped into public housing and will stay that way. The others are empty. Originally, CHA had planned to keep the row houses all public housing.</p><p>&ldquo;We felt that in order for Plan Forward to work, in order to have a very vibrant community and what works for the residents to move toward self sufficiency, it was important to do mixed income. Not to leave that area to be the only secluded area that remained 100 percent public housing,&rdquo; Brown said.</p><p>Carol Steele is an activist who lives in the row houses, which she said have more bedrooms and can better accommodate families.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re adamant that the row houses be rehabbed to 100 percent public housing like it was supposed to be,&rdquo; Steele said.</p><p>Steele said residents are less concerned about amenities and retail because they have now come to the community, including a recent Target. But they still want more public housing and the opportunity for displaced low-income Cabrini residents to return to the now-flourishing community.</p><p>&ldquo;We have an abundance of stores. We want what was promised,&rdquo; she said.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author" target="_blank">Natalie Moore</a> is a WBEZ reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>.</em><em>&nbsp;Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me" target="_blank">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore" target="_blank">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Thu, 30 Jan 2014 17:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/work/cabrini-green-ready-final-phase-redevelopment-109609 Curious tales from Chicago's past http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/curious-tales-chicagos-past-109432 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/history books photo flickr inspector_81.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="350" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/7198832&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="620"></iframe></p><p>The Chicago Fire. Mrs. O&rsquo;Leary&rsquo;s Barn. Fort Dearborn. Al Capone. We&rsquo;re not going to talk about any of that here&nbsp;&mdash; at least not in the ways you&#39;ve heard before.</p><p>Instead, you&rsquo;ll find chapters of Chicago history missing from most textbooks. We bring you stories from Chicago&rsquo;s past that range from near-death pair-o-chute rides to rides on funeral train cars; forgotten zoos to abandoned hospitals; produce markets to telephone exchanges; infamous asylums to anonymous (but fascinating) sidewalks. And yes, we talk about the Great Fire. But, how about this angle: <a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/chicagofire/" target="_blank">What would Chicago look like if the fire had never happened?</a></p><p>All of these stories started from <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/" target="_blank">questions </a>you&rsquo;ve asked and you&rsquo;ve helped us report. There are enough of them that it&rsquo;s worth recapping what we&rsquo;ve learned about the Chicago area&#39;s peculiar past &mdash; through the lens of residents&rsquo; own curiosity.</p><p>The audio playlist above begins with an hour-long special featuring questions that span from the 1800s to today. You&rsquo;ll hear about <strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/should-we-use-l-word-jane-addams-108619" target="_blank">Victorian-era sexuality</a></strong>, <strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/story-dunning-tomb-living-106892" target="_blank">forgotten graves</a></strong> near an insane asylum, <strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/did-wwii-nuclear-experiment-make-u-c-radioactive-106681" target="_blank">radioactive secrets</a></strong>,&nbsp;<strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-happened-nike-missile-sites-around-chicago-105087" target="_blank">missiles</a></strong> that were a little too close to home, a long-gone&nbsp;<strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/laugh-your-troubles-away-105619" target="_blank">amusement park</a></strong>, <strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/neon-no-more-lincoln-avenues-motel-row-109050" target="_blank">seedy motels</a></strong> and &hellip; <strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/where-have-all-old-school-doughnut-shops-gone-108483" target="_blank">doughnuts</a></strong>, of all things. Below, we follow up with videos that tell what happened to Union Park&rsquo;s menagerie, what it was like to visit the 1893 World&rsquo;s Fair and why residents on the city&rsquo;s Northwest Side were afraid of Dunning Asylum for the Insane.</p><p>If you want to bring alive the history of Chicago, the region or its people <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/" target="_blank">ask your question right now</a>! Otherwise, enjoy tales of local history &mdash; Curious City style!</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Good reads:&nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/chicagofire/" target="_blank">What would Chicago look like without the Fire?</a></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tensions-and-torches-after-great-chicago-fire-110908" target="_blank">Did the Great Fire affect where Chicago&#39;s rich and poor lived?</a></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/hosting-enemy-our-wwii-pow-camps-109344">Hosting the enemy: Our WW II POW camps </a></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/story-dunning-tomb-living-106892">The story of Dunning, a &lsquo;tomb for the living&rsquo;</a></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/after-haymarket-anarchism-trial-and-city-search-its-soul-110098" target="_blank">After Haymarket: Anarchism on trial and a city in search of its soul</a></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://wbez.is/1nh6mYK">Pilsen&#39;s tranformation into a Latino community</a></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/311-chicagos-early-phone-numbers-109135">The 311 on Chicago&rsquo;s early phone numbers ... and letters </a></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583" target="_blank">Gulp! How Chicago gobbled its neighbors</a></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/should-we-use-l-word-jane-addams-108619">Would Jane Addams be considered a lesbian? </a></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/bridges-span-river-and-decades-108903">History of downtown bridgehouses </a></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/marina-city-ideals-concrete-108072">Marina City: Ideals in concrete</a></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/laugh-your-troubles-away-105619">Riverview: Laugh your troubles away</a></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-happened-nike-missile-sites-around-chicago-105087">What happened to Nike missile sites around Chicago? </a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-how-has-chicago%E2%80%99s-coastline-changed-over-decades-104328">How has Chicago&rsquo;s coastline changed? </a></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/videoseries?list=PL0LxICU6xOzOOOQCazHiJN9W9pvThPmjA" width="620"></iframe></p><p><em>Follow Curious City&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZCuriousCity">@WBEZCurious City</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Mon, 23 Dec 2013 12:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/curious-tales-chicagos-past-109432 Agribusiness giant ADM to move headquarters to Chicago http://www.wbez.org/sections/work/agribusiness-giant-adm-move-headquarters-chicago-109403 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP999033656274.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Archer Daniels Midland Company announced Wednesday it is moving its global headquarters to Chicago, but said the agribusiness giant could still set up a new technology center in another state after failing to win millions in tax breaks.</p><p>The company said in a written statement it would move a small corporate team of about 50-75 employees to Chicago, but won&#39;t, at least for now, be bringing 100 more jobs that were to come with the technology center it had planned for the same site.</p><p>Chicago, with its two international airports and big-city amenities, was an obvious contender when the company first announced in September that it planned to move its headquarters from Decatur in central Illinois to a location with better access to its customers worldwide.</p><p>&quot;While we considered other global hubs, Chicago emerged as the best location to provide efficient access to global markets while maintaining our close connections with U.S. farmers, customers and operations,&quot; said ADM Chairman and Chief Executive Patricia Woertz in the company&#39;s statement.</p><p>ADM plans to keep about 4,400 jobs in Decatur, where it&#39;s been headquartered for 44 years, and make that city its North American headquarters.</p><p>Woertz noted in her statement that the company had originally planned to bundle its new global headquarters with the technology center in one location that could have brought twice as many jobs to the city. She called that a &quot;comprehensive plan&quot; that would have &quot;included state government support and multiyear commitments to stakeholders.&quot;</p><p>But Illinois lawmakers did not pass a sought-after tax-incentive package.</p><p>Woertz said the plan to locate the IT center with the global headquarters &quot;could not be realized within ADM&#39;s timeframe&quot; and that the company was scouting out alternative sites in several states. She said the company expects to make a decision by the middle of next year.</p><p>Still, Mayor Rahm Emanuel touted the company&#39;s move as a win, saying it would solidify Chicago&#39;s ranking as one of the top cities in the world for international headquarters.</p><p>&quot;Our goal was to put the city&#39;s best foot forward and highlight Chicago&#39;s strengths: an outstanding workforce, globally renowned transportation and infrastructure, and excellent quality of life,&quot; Emanuel said in a statement.</p><p>The company&#39;s announcement earlier this year prompted a new round of concerns about Illinois&#39; business climate and debate in the Legislature about whether the state should offer financial incentives so that companies would create new jobs or keep jobs there.</p><p>ADM had sought up to $30 million in tax breaks to keep the global headquarters in Illinois. The Illinois Senate and a House committee approved that deal during a special legislative session earlier this month, but the House adjourned without voting on the measure.</p><p>Business leaders and some lawmakers feared the lack of action would frustrate ADM and send the company out of state. But House Speaker Michael Madigan criticized ADM and other companies for seeking the incentives. The powerful Chicago Democrat also said he was unlikely to support perks for companies that pay little in taxes.</p><p>ADM has about 30,000 employees worldwide.</p><p>While Chicago officials had said the city was in the running for the new global headquarters, officials in Atlanta and St. Louis said they also were also in contact with ADM.</p></p> Wed, 18 Dec 2013 13:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/work/agribusiness-giant-adm-move-headquarters-chicago-109403 Former Chicago factory CEO pleads guilty to theft http://www.wbez.org/sections/work/former-chicago-factory-ceo-pleads-guilty-theft-109316 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Republic Windows (2).JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The former CEO of Chicago manufacturer Republic Windows and Doors pleaded guilty to one count of theft of his own factory.</p><p>Richard Gillman accepted a plea bargain of a four year prison sentence and paying a $100,000 fine.</p><p>Ricky Maclin is a former worker of the Republic Windows and Doors factory. He and fellow workers began a sit-in exactly 5 years ago at the Republic factory when it was abruptly closed during the height of the economic downturn.</p><p>They protested for six days over vacation and severance pay owed to them. Maclin now co-owns New Era Windows Cooperative with some of his former co-workers from Republic. He says justice was served.</p><p>&ldquo;New Era might not be here, but Republic would have been still going had he made different choices. As we make choices today, we always keep that in the back of our minds,&rdquo; Maclin said.</p><p>Gillman&rsquo;s attorney Edward Genson said his client at the time wanted to save the factory from bankruptcy.</p><p>&ldquo;The fellow who tries to help ends up being the butt,&rdquo; Genson said.</p><p>Genson said Gillman was a victim of the bad economy and he ended up being the &ldquo;fall guy&rdquo; for a failing business. In the courtroom, Genson said Gillman apologized to the<br />former workers present because he felt bad for what happened.</p><p>Workers like Maclin said thinking back five years ago, he doesn&rsquo;t completely buy the apology, but he said the sentencing has given him closure.</p><p>New Era has been in business since May. The co-op is made up of 16 workers from the Republic factory. The business isn&rsquo;t turning a profit, but they say they&rsquo;re at least breaking even. They&rsquo;re receiving orders from different parts of the country and expect business to pick up even more in the spring.</p><p>Co-owner Armando Robles said it&rsquo;s hard work, but they&rsquo;re all hopeful.</p><p>&ldquo;Sometimes we feel tired, sometimes we feel frustrated, but we have one hope to have our company. Now, we have our company. Now, we are producing. We have big, big dreams to grow,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><em>Susie An covers business for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter @soosieon.</em></p></p> Thu, 05 Dec 2013 17:12:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/work/former-chicago-factory-ceo-pleads-guilty-theft-109316 For indie bands, 'selling out' is buying in http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-12/indie-bands-selling-out-buying-109305 <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/Scott%20Montaya-%20The%20Coathangers.jpg" style="height: 543px; width: 620px;" title="The Coathangers. (Scott Montaya/Courtesy of The Coathangers) " /></div><p>In an October interview&nbsp;with Spin Magazine, the indie pop duo Cults <a href="http://www.spin.com/articles/cults-static-interview-2013/">expressed gratitude</a> for their cushy deal at Columbia Records, and guitarist Brian Oblivion said that indie labels were bad for bands.</p><p>According to Oblivian, his premier label is full of &quot;smart people...really cool and professional, not druggy party people like so many people in the industry.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;A lot of smaller indie labels are giving bands really bad deals and robbing them,&quot; he said, but either considerately or elusively, he does not name names.&nbsp;</p><p>Oblivion also criticizes today&#39;s pop radio as a &quot;crazy pipe dream&quot; and a &quot;seedy business,&quot; longing for the pre-Internet days of payola, the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Payola" target="_blank">now illegal</a> practice of record companies paying radio stations and DJs to play their bands&#39; songs on constant rotation.</p><p>&quot;The radio was way better when people where paying to get stuff on there,&quot; Oblivion said.</p><p>Tensions in the music industry spiked again a couple of weeks ago when <a href="http://www.goldieblox.com/">GoldieBlox</a>, a San Francisco-area startup that makes toys and games designed to encourage girls to learn about science and technology, <a href="http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/25/the-beastie-boys-fight-online-video-parody-of-girls/?_r=0" target="_blank">preemptively sued</a>&nbsp;the famed alternative hip-hop group Beastie Boys for the right to use a parody version of the 1986 song &quot;Girls&quot; in a commercial.&nbsp;</p><p>GoldieBlox had released a video advertisement that <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaThYJtWMKE" target="_blank">went viral</a>, based both on the creativity of its Rube Goldberg-style concept and its clever twist on the song&#39;s originally misogynistic lyrics (for which the Beastie Boys would eventually atone through their <a href="http://www.thenation.com/blog/167768/mcas-feminist-legacy#">shift to feminism</a> in the mid-90s) to comment on gender stereotypes.</p><p>When the members of Beastie Boys found out about the video, they released a firmly-worded <a href="http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/25/the-beastie-boys-fight-online-video-parody-of-girls/?smid=tw-share&amp;_r=2">open letter</a> to the company. Goldieblox agreed to <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2013/11/28/goldieblox-ends-lawsuit-over-beastie-boys-parody/3775385/" target="_blank">drop the lawsuit</a>&nbsp;shortly thereafter.&nbsp;</p><p>A portion of that letter, which also congratulates GoldieBlox on the video&#39;s innovation and empowering message to young girls, reads:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;As creative as it is, make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product, and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>All of this bruhaha got me thinking about the suspect morality (or perhaps, pretension) surrounding the refusal to &quot;sell out&quot; in the music industry, and whether that code is now of a bygone era&mdash;outdated, at times regressive, and very rarely upheld today.&nbsp;</p><p>Do other millennial indie bands agree with Oblivion&#39;s sentiments, that payola is good and indie labels are damaging? I can no longer erase the memory of Bob Dylan in a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBq7SyGtG8Y" target="_blank">Victoria Secret commercial</a>&nbsp;from my brain (in 1965, Dylan told a reporter that if he ever sold out to commercial interest, it would be for &quot;ladies garments&quot;&mdash;ugh) and so I wonder further still: is money&nbsp;always the bottom line?</p><p>Do some bands still fight for artistic integrity over commercialism, or have more of them simply come to understand that realism (hey, a band&#39;s gotta eat) can also be a more clearly-paved pathway to their own kind of success?&nbsp;</p><p>I asked a few rising artists from Chicago and beyond to weigh in and to share what &quot;success&quot; in the music business means to them. Here&rsquo;s what they had to say.</p><h3><strong><a href="https://www.facebook.com/TheCoathangersATL" target="_blank">The Coathangers</a> (Atlanta)</strong></h3><p><strong>On goals and success:&nbsp;</strong></p><p>&quot;The ultimate goal for our band and our music is to simply create original and meaningful art, to create a sound that is our own that will stand the test of time. We would love to be the band that in 20 years someone at a party or wherever picks up our album and freaks out, to create music that people can connect with and relate to and go crazy to, etc.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;Success to us is, again, creating a form of music that means something. We feel we have already been successful, simply because we have been able to share our music all over the world and have experienced so many amazing people, places, and things. Our fans really appreciate what we do and support us in boundless ways. If we make a little moolah or get on Conan; that&#39;s just an added bonus, really. There is no grand finish line to us when it comes to being &#39;successful.&#39;&quot;</p><p><strong>On indie labels:&nbsp;</strong></p><p>&quot;As far as indie labels are concerned, we love ours! Suicide Squeeze Records has taken us to the next plateau, pushing our band to its fullest. As far as other indie labels, we think they can be similar in aiding bands to take it to the next level, like helping with scoring a great booking agency, publicity, etc. Labels like Burger Records, Goner, Sub Pop, etc. seem to be helpful to the indie scene to us... but hey, what do we know? Ha.&quot;</p><p><strong>On selling out:&nbsp;</strong></p><p>&quot;Selling out? More like buying in! We think if our music was used in a certain commercial, it would be fine. I mean, why the hell not? We don&#39;t make music to whore it out to corporate America or anything, but we think people can be a bit too serious when it comes to the whole &#39;selling out&#39; idea. I mean, just do what makes you happy and enjoy the ride.&quot;</p><h3><strong><a href="http://www.petlions.com" target="_blank">Pet Lions</a>&nbsp;(Chicago)&nbsp;</strong><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/David%20Elliot.jpg" style="height: 320px; width: 320px; float: right;" title="Pet Lions. (David Elliot/Courtesy of Pet Lions)" /></h3><p><strong>On indie labels:&nbsp;</strong></p><p>&quot;Indie labels give exposure and funding to artists that major labels might never pay attention to. More often than not, I think indie labels are putting out more interesting music, because they like that music and they&rsquo;re willing to take a chance on it. Of course, they still want to sell records; but I think there&rsquo;s less concern about everyone and anyone liking their releases.&quot;</p><p><strong>On selling out:&nbsp;</strong></p><p>&quot;We&rsquo;ve had our music used in a commercial and definitely would again. For an unsigned band like us, the money from licensing our music is what has allowed us to record without paying out of our pockets. We don&rsquo;t have a record deal, and we&rsquo;re not making much money elsewhere. If someone wants to pay us to use a song we would have made anyway, I see it more as them &#39;buying in&#39; rather than us &#39;selling out.&#39; If a band is making music specifically with car commercials in mind, then that&rsquo;s a little different. And I&rsquo;d never rule out signing to a major. I&rsquo;d just be wary of what we might be compromising.&quot;</p><p>&quot;If this had been a standing rule for us (never allowing our music to be used to sell a product), then yeah, I&rsquo;d probably stick to it. In this instance [with GoldieBlox], it sounds like the Beastie Boys song was used and edited without their permission, which I wouldn&rsquo;t be okay with either.</p><p>&quot;The landscape is very different from when Beastie Boys probably put that rule in place for themselves. They&rsquo;ve also made tons of money already, so it&rsquo;s a bit easier for them to stick to it. I get that it provides perspective for how much the industry has changed, but I&rsquo;m not sure how fair it is to compare the approach of current bands to that of bands that existed profitably before the Internet.&quot;</p><h3><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Japanther%20new-1.jpg" style="width: 320px; float: left;" title="Japanther. (Courtesy of Japanther)" /><strong>Ian Vanek of <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/JAPANTHER/22378113409?ref=br_tf" target="_blank">Japanther</a> (Brooklyn)</strong></h3><p><strong>On the Cults interview and payola:&nbsp;</strong></p><p>&quot;I think Oblivian&#39;s&nbsp;blanket statements makes him sound jaded, privileged and ignorant.&nbsp;Payola still exists in 2014; it just changed its costume. Just ask Macklemore.&nbsp;It all comes down to your definition of success. He wanted his message on the radio; and guess what, now it is. If you want to spend months in an expensive studio making bland songs, go ahead. If you want to reminisce about back in the day and make slick disco tracks, go ahead. To me, that&#39;s not success.&nbsp;Japanther strives to connect with our audience, through independent zines, DIY shows, and small labels.</p><p>&quot;Conversely, we also hang our work in some of the most prestigious museums in the world. Pop radio isn&#39;t my dream, because I feel what we already have is much greater than that. We fought to own our publishing rights, but we are hawks about where the synchs end up. For example, we are proud to be a part of Grand Theft Auto, but turned down a lucrative alcohol commercial.&quot;</p><p><strong>On GoldieBlox vs. Beastie Boys:</strong></p><p>&quot;Funny how we highlight the stands we want and ignore the sexism at the core of early Beastie Boys. So, f*ck their moral high ground. Like I said, as long as the artist owns the publishing, and actually works it, it&#39;s none of my business.&quot;</p><h3><strong><a href="http://pandariot.bandcamp.com">Panda Riot </a>(Chicago)&nbsp;</strong><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Kerri%20Hacker-%20Panda%20Riot.jpg" style="height: 229px; width: 320px; float: right;" title="Panda Riot. (Kerri Hacker/Courtesy of Panda Riot)" /></h3><p><strong>On the Cults interview and payola:&nbsp;</strong></p><p>&quot;The Cults interview is interesting. I think they are right that, as counterintuitive as it sounds, payola might be a more fair system than what we currently have, which is a much more insidious and expensive pay to play scheme. It&#39;s definitely true that there are a lot of sleazy companies out there whose sole purpose is to make money off of people&#39;s dreams.&quot;</p><p>&quot;Everyone knows that you have to spend money to get a lot of exposure. So, bands will pay someone who promises to promote them and book shows for them; but then if the band doesn&#39;t &#39;make it,&#39; the company can attribute it to the music not being popular enough, and not to the fact that they didn&#39;t do their job. At least with payola, you know where the money is going. If the reason for dismantling payola was to level the playing field and take money out of the equation, why are the only bands on the radio major label bands with a lot of money?&quot;</p><p><strong>On goals and success:&nbsp;</strong></p><p>&quot;We definitely don&rsquo;t think of success as making money or being famous. But for us, success has two components: creating exactly the music that we want without compromise, and having our music reach lots of people. As for making the music that we want, an integral part of what we do involves taking money out of the equation as much as possible.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We don&rsquo;t want to have to worry about owing money to a label or the cost of studio time, so we push our DIY aesthetic as far as we can and do everything ourselves: write, record, mix, master, make videos, design the album art, etc. The only thing that we can&#39;t do ourselves without money is promotion. You can make the best music in the world; but if nobody knows about it, they can&#39;t listen to it and [can&#39;t] buy it.&quot;</p><p><strong>On GoldieBlox vs. Beastie Boys:</strong></p><p>&quot;We are split. We think it is important for artists to get paid for their work, and we worry that with services like Pandora and Spotify, artists are getting paid less and less for what they create. But the way that the GoldieBlox ad subverts the sexism of the Beastie Boys song is hard not to like.&quot;</p><h3><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Blackstone%20Rangers.jpg" style="height: 214px; width: 320px; float: left;" title="Blackstone Rangers. (Courtesy of Blackstone Rangers)" /><strong>Derek Kutzer of <a href="https://www.facebook.com/blackstonerangers" target="_blank">Blackstone Rangers</a> (Dallas)</strong></h3><p><strong>On indie labels:</strong></p><p>&quot;I think there are plenty of independent labels that are still functioning under the old ethical parameters of what it means to be indie. They have a direct love of the music they put out and forge personal relationships with the bands they sign. Captured Tracks and Slumberland seem to be good examples of this, as is our label, Saint Marie Records.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We deal directly with the owner of our label in all matters. He is a huge fan of our music, and is in the industry as much out of a desire for good, honest art as he is a desire to make a profit. It seems that the indie labels that Cults mentioned exist on a larger plane than what we have dealt with. We feel that in our case, the relationship between label and band is solid and meaningful. Cults has probably seen a world that we have not seen, so I&rsquo;m not doubting their experience. We just haven&rsquo;t shared it.&quot;</p><p><strong>On selling out:&nbsp;</strong></p><p>&quot;Ultimately, I think the perception of a band &#39;selling-out&#39; is largely in the mind of music fans and consumers, and it actually says more about those fans and consumers than it does about the band itself. This is not to say that a band can never make a stupid, greedy decision. They do it all the time. But, in the end, a band knows what it needs and what it wants more than a fan.&quot;</p><p>&quot;As musicians, we&rsquo;d all love to quit our day jobs, and make money doing what we love. If an artist &#39;sells out,&#39; per say, it&rsquo;s more likely that they have always wanted to get to that level than it is that they pulled a fast one on everybody. Fans should be a little more careful not to hold artists up on such a high pedestal. We are humans, too, with human needs, and human wants. And we live in a capitalist, consumerist world where music competes in a fierce market place, and it doesn&rsquo;t always benefit the basic needs of the musician. We are all trying to get ahead and climb to that next step. There&rsquo;s nothing wrong with that.</p><p>But I do think that ethics should be involved. If you go around railing against air pollution and environmental destruction, while you license your music to be used in a gas guzzling SUV commercial or to an oil company known to pollute the ocean or something, there&rsquo;s really a lot wrong about that. But, still, it&rsquo;s likely that that band has always been wishy-washy about what they really stand for. I would have no problem licensing my music out to promote something that I could stand by, but I&rsquo;d draw a line. In the case of Beastie Boys, they chose to never license their music for commercial purposes. I respect that. But, as a financially poor musician, I could use a little break.&quot;</p><p><strong>On goals and success:&nbsp;</strong></p><p>&quot;Honestly, we&rsquo;d just like to do music as a profession; to not have to have a day job to support our artistic endeavors. We hope that one day soon, we&rsquo;ll be able to live off of our craft.</p><p>We find success in little things: a fan coming up after a show saying how amazing the experience was for him or her, selling a T-shirt to a glowing kid, being asked by a band we really like to play a show with them, and things like that. We don&rsquo;t think about playing stadiums or anything grand. We take it one step at a time. One show at a time. One record at a time. One good review at a time. And so on. We&rsquo;d just like to make a living off of our music.&quot;</p><p><strong>Mish Way of <a href="https://www.facebook.com/whitelung" target="_blank">White Lung</a> (Vancouver)&nbsp;</strong><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Kate%20Brown-%20White%20Lung.jpg" style="height: 213px; width: 320px; float: right;" title="White Lung. (Kate Brown/Courtesy of White Lung)" /></p><p><strong>On defining success:</strong></p><p>&ldquo;This is a really interesting question; because, depending on when you asks an artist this, the answer will never be the same. I was speaking to my friend Steve McBean [of Black Mountain] about this. He pointed out how when you start playing in a punk band your goals are simple: write a bunch of songs, play with bands you like, and maybe make a 7-inch or do a small tour. That was always kind of my goal when White Lung started; I just wanted to play because it is the best feeling. It&#39;s just so fun. I can&#39;t not play. Then, when people start to care, you have expectations; so your goals change. But its not calculated or anything, no chalk board bullet points. You just keep trying, chugging along, pushing yourself. I think competition between peers and friends is ugly. I only compete with myself. My definition of &lsquo;success&rsquo; changes as things evolve around me; but ultimately, getting by doing a job I love doing more than anything else (writing and music) is pretty good. But I&#39;m always hungry. I naturally want to out-do myself.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about art and pop culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett">@leahkpickett.</a></em></p></p> Thu, 05 Dec 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-12/indie-bands-selling-out-buying-109305