WBEZ | north lawndale http://www.wbez.org/tags/north-lawndale Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Saving greystones with blood, sweat -- and branding http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/saving-greystones-blood-sweat-and-branding-105992 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F82411229&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></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/abandoned%20greystones%20flickr%20eric%20alix%20rodgers.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Vacant and neglected greystones in Chicago’s Oakland neighborhood. (Flickr/Eric Alix Rodgers)" /></div><p>Greystones are to Chicago what brownstones are to Brooklyn. And while many of these stately, limestone-faceted beauties line the grassy boulevards of wealthy North Side neighborhoods, many others exist in a state of neglect, disrepair or abandonment.</p><p>These decrepit greystones are generally located in some South and West Side neighborhoods whose residents were historically deprived of mortgages and subject to redlining. They&#39;re struggling now with low rates of home ownership and high rates of vacancy that have only gotten worse thanks to the real estate collapse. Add to that the stigma that comes from poverty, and you have a recipe for neighborhood neglect.</p><p>The last few years have thus been quite troubling for preservationists and community developers who want to both help struggling neighborhoods and save an iconic part of Chicago&rsquo;s native architecture. One affordable housing developer phrased the essential question this way: &ldquo;How do we start potentially building a market to rebuild interest in greystones and get people into these vacant buildings?&rdquo;</p><p>That developer is Matt Cole, who runs Neighborhood Housing Service&rsquo;s Historic Chicago Greystone Initiative. The program is aimed at preserving, restoring and modernizing these buildings, and NHS offers both educational and financial resources to owners and potential buyers, whether it&rsquo;s advice on how to remodel or affordable loans that make it possible to do a full gut rehab on a neglected two-flat.</p><p>But in addition to these traditional sorts of community development strategies, Cole and his colleagues have turned to a tactic more common in commercial real estate development: neighborhood branding. &nbsp;</p><p>Anyone who&rsquo;s ever been offered an apartment in &ldquo;West Bucktown&rdquo; knows that developers will often rename a gentrifying neighborhood in order to lure a wealthier set of potential buyers. But in this case, Cole and his colleagues focused their efforts on giving stigmatized neighborhoods the kind of narrative that would make existing, long-time residents puff up their chests.</p><p>Their test case was K-Town, a 16-block portion of North Lawndale named for a number of streets &ndash; Karlov, Kildare, Keeler, Kostner, etc. &ndash; that start with the letter &quot;K.&quot;</p><p>K-Town is traditionally lumped in with the rest of Chicago&rsquo;s West Side &ndash; so often described as poor, downtrodden and crime-ridden.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/K-town%20greysones%20google%20maps.jpg" style="height: 345px; width: 620px;" title="Rows of renovated greystones line the street in K-Town. The neighborhood was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. (Google Maps)" /></p><p>But this portion of North Lawndale defies that stereotype: It&#39;s actually quite stable, according to Cole, and has a striking share of Chicago&rsquo;s built history. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It is this incredible microcosm of Chicago architecture that really can&rsquo;t be found anywhere else in the city,&rdquo; Cole said. &ldquo;You have fantastic greystones on one side, then workers&rsquo; cottages in the middle. Then also these sort of Dutch gabled buildings on the front &ndash; these two-flats and three-flats that were built in the 1930s &ndash; then bungalows start coming in.&rdquo;</p><p>Two years ago NHS worked with a number of state and local preservation agencies to get K-Town added to the National Register of Historic Places.</p><p>Charles Leeks, NHS&rsquo;s neighborhood director for North Lawndale, says there have not been measurable financial results &ndash; in the form of rising property value or additional homes sold or rehabbed &ndash; since K-Town was added to the National Register. But he said he&#39;s seen a noticeable uptick in neighborhood pride and cohesion.</p><p>&ldquo;The real tangible benefits from [the National Register] have to do with this question of image &ndash; how people began to think about the place and manage it themselves,&rdquo; Leeks said. &ldquo;Once there was this historic district designation, once it was clear, people celebrated that and rallied around that.&rdquo;</p><p>K-Town residents formed what Leeks called a Historic District Committee, which has taken a highly active role in promoting the neighborhood. In addition to developing a strategic plan for K-Town&rsquo;s revitalization, they&rsquo;ve organized neighborhood walking tours &ndash; an unusual feature for an area often cited for its blight.</p><p>They&rsquo;ve also started showing up in housing court. If a vacant building goes on a demolition list, the committee may ask the judge to stay demolition so they can preserve it and work toward finding a buyer.</p><p>Leeks said NHS hasn&rsquo;t brought on any new K-Town buyers in the two years since the neighborhood was added to the National Register (although the organization is currently under contract with two buildings on nearby Douglas Boulevard). &nbsp;</p><p>Instead, the Historic District Committee is turning to what it only half-jokingly calls the &ldquo;K-Town alumni association&rdquo; &ndash; anyone with roots in the neighborhood. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re reaching out to try and get former friends and neighbors to look back &ndash; and move back,&rdquo; Leeks said.</p><p>It&rsquo;s not always easy to get people to see their own neighborhood in a different light, especially if they&rsquo;ve been there &ndash; or been away &ndash; for decades. But Matt Cole said NHS has already helped more than 200 greystone owners buy, keep or repair their buildings since the program was launched in 2006&nbsp;&ndash; an investment of more than $6 million. And they&rsquo;re still hoping to use historic narratives to rebrand neighborhoods and encourage reinvestment. That&rsquo;s why they&#39;re taking a similar approach to another stretch of North Lawndale, the 3300 block of West Flournoy Street. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;People are watching this &ndash; people in other parts of the neighborhood,&rdquo; Leeks said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;ve seen what&rsquo;s happening in K-Town and said, &lsquo;Can we do that?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>You can hear Matt Cole expound more on his group&rsquo;s neighborhood branding strategy in the audio above.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a></em>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="https://soundcloud.com/chicago-amplified/a-conversation-with-u-s">Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s</a></em>&nbsp;<em>vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Matt Cole spoke at an event presented by the Chicago Architecture Foundation in January. Click</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/historic-preservation-design-and-cultural-programming-neighborhood-change">here</a>&nbsp;to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Sat, 09 Mar 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/saving-greystones-blood-sweat-and-branding-105992 There in Chicago (#18) http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-12/there-chicago-18-104441 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/12-27--Ogden%20Ave.JPG" title="Ogden Avenue at Lawndale--view northeast" /></div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/12-27--1979_0.jpg" title="1979--the same location" /></div></div></div></div></div><p>How well did you find your way around the West Side of 1979?</p><p>We are on Ogden Avenue just west of Central Park, looking back toward downtown.&nbsp;One clue is that this is a very wide street crossed by&nbsp;an &#39;L&#39; line at an oblique angle. The view of the Sears Tower is&nbsp;from the southwest, which means this is one of the diagonal streets.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>This stretch of Ogden was the part of Route 66, still an official U.S. highway when the older picture was taken. The &quot;Mother Road&quot; was decommissioned in 1985.</p><p>&nbsp;&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 27 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-12/there-chicago-18-104441 Mexican poet leads march against drug war http://www.wbez.org/news/mexican-poet-leads-march-against-drug-war-102148 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/JavierSiciliaCROP.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Led by a renowned Mexican poet, a four-mile march through Chicago&rsquo;s West Side on Monday evening called for an end to the U.S. war on drugs. Javier Sicilia, whose 24-year-old son was killed last year by Mexican drug traffickers in Cuernavaca, blames the drug war for tens of thousands of violent deaths in that country.</p><p>Sicilia says the war has been devastating north of the border too. To make that point, he is leading a month-long bus caravan through the United States. His group joined hundreds of Chicago activists on the march, which began in the city&rsquo;s Little Village neighborhood and ended in West Garfield Park.</p><p>&ldquo;These are African-Americans and Latinos who have been criminalized,&rdquo; he told WBEZ in Spanish, motioning to bystanders watching the march. &ldquo;They are more vulnerable because there is a drug war.&rdquo;</p><p>Sicilia said the war on drugs, which dates back to President Richard Nixon&rsquo;s administration, has fueled mass incarceration and street violence in the United States.</p><p>He compared that bloodshed to Chicago gangster violence during Prohibition almost a century ago. But the drug war has deeper effects, Sicilia said, &ldquo;because the scale is international and the weaponry is more powerful.&rdquo;</p><p>Sicilia said authorities should treat drug use as an issue of public health, not criminality.</p><p>The caravan is scheduled to wrap up in Washington next week.</p></p> Tue, 04 Sep 2012 00:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/mexican-poet-leads-march-against-drug-war-102148 Did CPS let building go to pot before ‘turnaround’? http://www.wbez.org/story/did-cps-let-building-go-pot-%E2%80%98turnaround%E2%80%99-96618 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-22/Herzl.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-22/Herzl.JPG" style="margin: 9px 18px 6px 1px; float: left; width: 354px; height: 234px;" title="Theodore Herzl Elementary School opened 97 years ago in North Lawndale. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></p><p>The Chicago Board of Education on Wednesday is scheduled to vote on proposals to close or completely restaff 17 schools. That would make more than 100 the district has shut down or restaffed in the last decade. School officials say their approach gives students in poorly performing schools more options. But there&rsquo;s an old accusation that the district lets some school buildings go to pot until just before turning them over to private management groups. From our West Side bureau, we look at a school where parents and teachers are making that accusation.</p><p>MITCHELL: Lajuan Criswell&rsquo;s daughter is a first-grader at Herzl Elementary, a school in Chicago&rsquo;s North Lawndale neighborhood. Criswell&rsquo;s mom teaches there. And Criswell herself serves on the Local School Council and volunteers after school twice a week. She says the building gets too hot in the winter &mdash; some days as high as 80 or 90 degrees. And Criswell says there are other problems.</p><p>CRISWELL: We don&rsquo;t have air conditioning. The water fountains on some of the floors don&rsquo;t function either. Some outlets &mdash; that look like they have perhaps had electrical fires at one point &mdash; they have the scorch marks. Paint and plaster that was peeling off for the last few years. And something with the plumbing so that the first floor has paint peeling off some of the ceilings.</p><p>MITCHELL: And don&rsquo;t even get Criswell started on the building&rsquo;s asbestos and lead. She says the problems have gone on awhile. The district <em>is</em> starting to send in more repair crews.</p><p>CRISWELL: But only because a new company is coming in, not because they really care about the safety or health of my child or anybody else&rsquo;s child in that building.</p><p>MITCHELL: Because they&rsquo;re going to have a private company come in and run the school.</p><p>CRISWELL: Exactly. That&rsquo;s the driving force trying to fix it up.</p><p>MITCHELL: The private group will replace the entire staff. Chicago Public Schools calls that process a &ldquo;turnaround.&rdquo; Now, something Criswell doesn&rsquo;t mention is that the Local School Council she serves on will have no control at Herzl if this turnaround proceeds. So you could say she&rsquo;d have a motive to exaggerate about the building&rsquo;s conditions. But there are lots of critics of the turnaround model. And many say district management has unspoken motives, too. Some of Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s top CPS appointees came from AUSL, short for the Academy for Urban School Leadership. That&rsquo;s the private group that would run the Herzl turnaround. Those officials include Tim Cawley, the district&rsquo;s administrative chief. During a December call with reporters, Cawley acknowledged CPS avoids sinking money into buildings it might close within the next 10 years.</p><p>CAWLEY: We really believe the investment in the facility makes sense when it&rsquo;s partnered with a program change. So, in going into those schools without a doing a more comprehensive change &mdash; just painting the walls and putting new lighting in and creating a more positive interior when nothing else has changed at the school &mdash; doesn&rsquo;t get you the same return on the investment as it does when there&rsquo;s a fresh start.</p><p>MITCHELL: By fresh start, he means the turnaround. And, again, in that phone call Cawley said CPS considers closing schools as long as 10 years ahead of time. If that&rsquo;s the case, kindergarteners at some poor-performing schools might never see major building improvements before leaving for high school. So where has this approach left Herzl Elementary, a school on academic probation for years? I decided to check out the building myself. Last week I asked for a quick tour in a message to the school&rsquo;s principal. Her name&rsquo;s Teresa Anderson. I didn&rsquo;t hear back, so I called again. And again. Tuesday, I went over to Herzl without an appointment.</p><p>MITCHELL: I&rsquo;ve been calling since Thursday. She hasn&rsquo;t been returning my calls. Taxpayers pay for this building. We&rsquo;ve been hearing a lot about the conditions here and we want to see them.</p><p>STAFFER: She&rsquo;s not available to speak right now.</p><p>MITCHELL: Is that her right there?</p><p>STAFFER: (Indecipherable).</p><p>MITCHELL: She was off the phone looking right at me just a minute ago. She can&rsquo;t step out here to speak with me for five minutes?</p><p>STAFFER: No, she&rsquo;s on a conference call right now.</p><p>MITCHELL: OK, I&rsquo;ll wait until the end of her call.</p><p>STAFFER: OK.</p><p>MITCHELL: Principal Anderson eventually came out but said I could not look around the building and asked me to leave. The CPS central office backed her up. The district says Herzl building upgrades this summer will total about $9 million. If the school board approves the turnaround Wednesday, those improvements will be just in time for the arrival of private management.</p><p><em>WBEZ&rsquo;s Linda Lutton contributed audio to this story.</em></p></p> Wed, 22 Feb 2012 11:25:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/did-cps-let-building-go-pot-%E2%80%98turnaround%E2%80%99-96618 Elderly expect brunt of postal closures http://www.wbez.org/story/elderly-expect-brunt-postal-closures-94620 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-05/photo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The U.S. Postal Service announced that during the busy holidays it will take a break from a controversial plan to close post offices, but the issue is still stewing in some neighborhoods - especially among elderly residents.</p><p>Eleven post offices in Chicago are on the list of potential closures, nearly all on the city’s South and West Sides. Those are the communities where many say that older residents will bear the brunt of the hardship of having to travel farther to use a full-service postal facility.</p><p>Residents near those locations received letters over the summer notifying them of the proposal to close their local post office, and inviting comments. Dorothy Sumpter, a 73-year-old resident of the North Lawndale neighborhood, said as soon as she received the letter, she put the date of a public town hall meeting on the proposal on her calendar.</p><p>“People like me need the post office,” said Sumpter, “so that’s why I wanted to be in on it. I’m a citizen and I use every right that I possibly can.”</p><p>Sumpter uses the Otis Grant Collins Post Office, where revenue dropped $200,000 between fiscal years 2007 and 2010. Throughout the nation, post offices are seeing a decline in revenues and foot traffic, attributed to the shift to online bill-paying and correspondence. But Sumpter says she and many other elderly people like her aren’t part of the internet-using trend.</p><p>“I don’t feel comfortable using it,” she said. “I’m old-fashioned.”</p><p>Sumpter goes to the post office every week because she has a P.O. Box there, but also to buy stamps and mail her bills. She said she feels comfortable going there because it’s easy to access on foot and by bus, and she knows all the workers by name. If the Otis Grant Collins branch closes, the next closest post office would be in Cicero. “Which I don’t even know where the post office is in Cicero,” Sumpter laughed. “And I don’t really want to have to go over there just to go to a post office, because many times I can walk to the post office in less than 15 minutes.”</p><p>Sumpter said she fears that the elderly will become more isolated if they lose their neighborhood post offices, because many are less mobile to begin with, and sometimes walking to the post office is a crucial part of their social interaction and weekly exercise regime. Karen Schenck, Chicago District Manager/Postmaster, said many share Sumpter’s view.</p><p>“That was the largest concern. If you had to ask me what was the biggest concern of all the town hall meetings,” said Schenck, “was people were concerned about the elderly in their own community.”</p><p>The list of proposed closures came from USPS headquarters in Washington, D.C., said Schenck.</p><p>“Nobody took into consideration any other fact except for how much revenue,” she explained, “and if there was another post office within two miles close to it that could service the community.”</p><p>Schenck says the district office is now looking at population data to see how many elderly live near the post offices that may close. She says that’ll help them make a final decision. Schenck says of the 11 offices on the shortlist, some will be spared.</p><p>But concern for the elderly may be loudest in Chicago’s Chinatown. Of the zip codes where offices may close, Chinatown’s is the one with the greatest portion of residents over age 65, with several senior housing high rises in the immediate vicinity of the post office. Chinatown’s elderly also say they have an unique need - a place where people are bilingual.</p><p>“The employees, they don’t speak Chinese,” said 60-year old Harry Wong.</p><p>Wong is like many elderly Chinese immigrants in Chicago who speak limited English. He uses the Chinatown post office because if there’s a language barrier, he can turn to other customers in the store for help translating. That’s the reason that many elderly Chinese who live in other places will often bypass a closer post office to go to Chinatown’s.</p><p>Chinatown organizers have gathered hundreds of handwritten letters from residents to protest the potential closure of their post office. USPS is still accepting those comments, and says no post offices will close before March.</p></p> Tue, 06 Dec 2011 23:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/elderly-expect-brunt-postal-closures-94620 The Central Park Theater: Chicago's first movie palace http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-11-07/central-park-theater-chicagos-first-movie-palace-93727 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-07/11-07-11--Central Park Theatre.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="326" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-03/11-07-11--Central Park Theatre.jpg" title="Chicago History Happened Here: 3535 W. Roosevelt Rd." width="490"></p><p>Before TV or videogames or the Internet, everyone went to the movies--all the time. Theaters became opulent showplaces. Though now put to another use, the most historic of the Chicago movie palaces still stands on the West Side.</p><p>The Balabans were a Russian Jewish family who settled in the North Lawndale neighborhood. In 1907 one of the teenage sons got a job singing in a tiny vaudeville theater on Kedzie Avenue. The place also featured the primitive 15-minute movies of the time.</p><p>One day the boy's mother came to the theater. Mrs. Balaban was impressed by the business model. "People pay on the way in--nobody can owe us money!" she said. So the Balabans rounded up $400 and rented the theater. They had their own nickelodeon.</p><p>Nickelodeon--since admission was five cents, that's what early movie theaters were called. Like the little place on Kedzie, they were a store-front operation, with a few folding chairs and a bed sheet for a screen. That was acceptable in 1907.</p><p>But as movies became more popular, the Balabans adapted to the times. Something grander was needed. In 1917 they opened the Central Park Theater at 3535 W. 12th Street (Roosevelt Road).</p><p>The 1780-seat theater was designed by the firm of Rapp and Rapp. With a large center stage flanked by two smaller stages, the versatile auditorium could be used for either movies or live entertainment. The spacious, overhanging balcony gave the audience the feeling they were right up front among the performers.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-03/11-07--ad - Copy.jpg" style="width: 205px; height: 330px; float: right;" title="1917 Central Park ad">As a bonus, the Central Park was air-conditioned. In 1917 few public buildings had this feature. During the dog-days of summer, people flocked to the theater just to cool off. The doors opened at 9:30 most mornings and didn't close until midnight. If you had a dime and you had the time, you could take a mini-vacation at the Central Park.</p><p>By now the family business was known as Balaban &amp; Katz. When the Central Park proved a success, they built other movie palaces. Eventually B&amp;K operated 36 theaters in the city and suburbs, including such Loop landmarks as the Chicago, the Oriental, the United Artists, the Roosevelt, and the McVickers.</p><p>Today most of the B&amp;K theaters are gone. The Central Park was converted into a church in 1971. In recognition of its pioneer status, the building has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 07 Nov 2011 12:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-11-07/central-park-theater-chicagos-first-movie-palace-93727 County starts freeing inmates wanted by ICE http://www.wbez.org/story/county-starts-freeing-inmates-wanted-ice-91808 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-09/Cook county jail Ted S. Warren-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A new Cook County ordinance that touches the hot-button issue of immigration is allowing inmates out of the county’s jail and making waves in other parts of the country.</p><p>The ordinance, approved Wednesday by the County Board, halts compliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests that certain inmates stay in jail up to two business days beyond what their criminal cases require. The requests, known as detainers, give ICE time to pick up the inmates for possible deportation.</p><p>Sheriff Tom Dart’s office says by Friday afternoon the jail had freed 11 jail inmates named in ICE detainers.</p><p>ICE took custody of 721 Cook County inmates on detainers this year and 1,665 last year, according to Dart’s office. “I guess that’s it,” spokesman Steve Patterson says.</p><p>The ordinance requires the jail to free such inmates unless the federal government agrees in advance to pay for the extended confinement. ICE says the feds don’t reimburse any local jurisdiction in the country for those costs.</p><p>“It’s like a godsend,” says Carlos Torres, 29, of North Lawndale.</p><div class="inset"><p><span style="color: rgb(165, 42, 42);"><span style="font-size: 24px;"><em><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;">‘You have many localities and state legislatures trying to do immigration policy. We’re not best equipped to do this.</span></em></span></span><span style="color: rgb(165, 42, 42);"><span style="font-size: 24px;"><em><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;">’</span></em></span></span></p></div><p>Torres says Chicago police last month arrested his father after finding narcotics in a car in which he was a passenger. Torres says his father, a Mexico native, has an expired green card and that his U.S. record includes a burglary conviction. “So that would make him more likely to get deported,” Torres says.</p><p>ICE found out Torres’s father was in the jail and put a detainer on him. But the ordinance gives the inmate a better chance of walking free after a court appearance Tuesday. “I’m relieved,” Torres says.</p><p>Jesús García, D-Chicago, and other commissioners who backed the measure say detainers violate inmates’ due-process rights and erode community trust in local cops.</p><p>“You have many localities and state legislatures trying to do immigration policy,” García says. “We’re not best equipped to do this.”</p><p>García says local governments are stuck with the job until Congress overhauls the nation’s immigration laws.</p><p>Those localities have some cover from a federal court ruling in Indiana this summer. The ruling says compliance with ICE detainers is voluntary.</p><p>Still, a few Cook County commissioners have qualms about ignoring them. “Under this ordinance, gang bangers and people involved in drug dealing, sex trafficking and criminal sexual assault will be released back into our communities,” Timothy Schneider, R-Bartlett, said during Wednesday’s County Board meeting. “This is clearly our Willie Horton moment.”</p><p>A Massachusetts prison released Horton, a convicted felon, as part of a weekend furlough program in 1986. He did not return and committed violent crimes that came back to haunt Gov. Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential campaign.</p><p>ICE sounds a similar alarm. “ICE has not sought to compel compliance through legal proceedings [but] jurisdictions that ignore detainers bear the risk of possible public safety risks,” the agency said in a statement about the Cook County vote.</p><p>Asked whether ICE will take the county to court to compel compliance, the agency did not answer.</p><p>The ordinance, meanwhile, is reverberating beyond the county. “For a long time we felt like we were in this alone,” says Juniper Downs, lead deputy counsel for Santa Clara County, California. “Cook County’s bold policy may affect the direction of the policy we develop.”</p><p>At least three other counties — Taos and San Miguel, both in New Mexico, and San Francisco in California — have limited the sorts of inmates they’re holding on ICE detainers. None has gone as far as Cook County, which is ignoring the detainers altogether.</p></p> Fri, 09 Sep 2011 23:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/county-starts-freeing-inmates-wanted-ice-91808 Street-smarts earned West Side gang members a full-ride to the Ivy League http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-20/street-smarts-earned-west-side-gang-members-full-ride-ivy-league-89396 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-20/2514540143_e422116ca4_o.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>There's no standardized test for street-smarts and that sort of experience will not necessarily earn students a ticket to the college of their choice. But in the late 1960s, curbside know-how helped a group of West Side gang members get a full ride to Dartmouth College. The story of the experimental program that took a group of young men from North Lawndale to the Ivy League is in the new edition of <a href="http://www.chicagomag.com/" target="_blank"><em>Chicago</em></a> magazine. WBEZ’s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/staff/richard-steele" target="_blank">Richard Steele </a>recently sat down with the author, Jay Pridmore, and a graduate of the program - Allan 'Tiny' Evans. Tiny began by telling Steele that he did not mind gang life—he was good at.<br> <br> &nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 20 Jul 2011 13:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-20/street-smarts-earned-west-side-gang-members-full-ride-ivy-league-89396 Chicago's Better Boys Foundation turns 50 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-06/chicagos-better-boys-foundation-turns-50-88776 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-06/5840904538_950ba88643_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Fifty years ago, an organization got to work in a boxing gym in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood. The group used whatever space they could find to help kids stay out of trouble and participate in after school activities. Their mission was to provide opportunities for the increasingly blighted community. Dr. John Holton, the Executive Director of the <a href="http://www.betterboys.org/about/" target="_blank">Better Boys Foundation</a>, joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to talk about the group's history.</p><p><em>Music Button: Common, "Geto Dreams," (instrumental) from the release Like Water for Chocolate (MCA) </em></p></p> Wed, 06 Jul 2011 13:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-06/chicagos-better-boys-foundation-turns-50-88776 With grocery bus, West Siders jump on health bandwagon http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-06-15/grocery-bus-west-siders-jump-health-bandwagon-87887 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-June/2011-06-15/P1010913.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit1.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p>There’s a novel solution bringing relief to food deserts on Chicago’s West Side.</p><p>Sparing the expense of building a bricks and mortar grocery, a group has transformed a decommissioned CTA bus into a mobile, one-aisle produce mart. <a href="http://freshmoves.org/">Fresh Moves Mobile Market</a> carries a mix of conventional and organic fruits and vegetables to parts of Chicago that lack grocery stores and other viable options for healthy eating.</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/Edit2.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p>We caught up with the bus at the first of its Wednesday stops, in front of the Lawndale Christian Health Center on West Ogden Avenue.</p><p>Right now, Fresh Moves is in service two days a week, rotating between locations in North Lawndale and Austin. The climate-controlled bus will allow them to operate year-round, and Sheelah Muhammad, Fresh Move’s board secretary, says they hope to expand to six days a week. “We want to be like the ice cream truck,” Muhammad says. “You hear the bell and everyone comes running.”</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit3.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p>The project’s senior manager, Dara Cooper, 33, says Fresh Moves uses <a href="http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/">standards set by the Environmental Work Group</a> to determine which fruits and vegetables they should carry as organic. “All of the fruits and vegetables that are heavily sprayed with pesticides - kale, collards, cherries, nectarines - we try to buy organic,” Cooper says. “Oranges, bananas, those kinds of things we can buy conventional.”</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit4.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit5.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p>Fresh Moves hopes to address a critical problem facing neighborhoods across Chicago.</p><p>A <a href="http://www.marigallagher.com/site_media/dynamic/project_files/Chicago_Food_Desert_Report.pdf">2006 study</a> found that African-Americans in Chicago had the fewest options when it came to grocery shopping, and that black neighborhoods like North Lawndale were among the most cut off from fresh produce. Mari Gallagher, the study’s author, found that in a typical African-American block, “the nearest grocery store is roughly twice as distant as the nearest fast food restaurant.” The impact, Gallagher writes, is severe: “Communities that have no or distant grocery stores…will likely have increased premature death and chronic health conditions.”</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit6.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p>Fresh Moves must keep prices competitive if they want to be a viable option for people in the low-income neighborhoods that most need their help. Theodore Thompson, 36, had just finished his morning run when he stepped onto the bus looking for something “nice and juicy” to help him rehydrate. Thompson lives in Lawndale and runs an afterschool program at nearby Lawndale Community Church. He says he found the prices on the bus to be very reasonable, “They actually beat the prices in some of the stores that I shop in,” he says, citing Sam’s Club, Food For Less and Jewel as places where he would normally go. “I’m looking at the mangoes. In the store you might have to pay $1.50 [per mango]. Here, it’s one dollar for one mango!</p><p><img alt="Thompson left with mangoes, plums, and avocados. " src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit7.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p><img alt="A Fresh Moves customer weighs her options, and her selection. " src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit8.jpg" title="" height="667" width="500"></p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit9.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p>Sales associate Jessica White weighs oranges at the register. In addition to cash and debit cards, Fresh Moves was recently approved to accept the Illinois LINK card, which allows food stamp recipients to pay for purchases electronically.</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit10.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p>Sales associate Feguier Epps, 33, helps customer Caritina Almanza, 24, with her purchase. Almanza, who lives on the South Side in Chicago’s West Lawn neighborhood, is one of several health center employees who shop on the bus. She is also a social worker who works with mothers and infants who has been recommending the bus to her clients. “I actually told one of my clients about it yesterday; She got excited,” Almanza says. “Having little ones, she’s trying to teach her baby to eat well.”</p><p><img alt="Almanza left with pineapple, broccoli, sweet potatoes and other goodies. " src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edi11.jpg" title="" height="667" width="500"></p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit12.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p>Marcella Fermoso, 48, lives in Oak Park, IL and works at the Lawndale Christian Health Center in the case management department. She prefers to buy organic, but finds stores like Whole Foods too expensive. “I’m coming back for sure,” she says.</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit13.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p>You can catch the bus Wednesdays and Thursdays for now. Click <a href="http://freshmoves.org/schedule/">here</a> for the full schedule.</p></p> Wed, 15 Jun 2011 16:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-06-15/grocery-bus-west-siders-jump-health-bandwagon-87887