WBEZ | M(apps) & Data http://www.wbez.org/tags/mapps-data Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Are Chicagoans the toughest big city dwellers in the nation? http://www.wbez.org/news/are-chicagoans-toughest-big-city-dwellers-nation-109816 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/EXTREME WEATHER.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>During this season of multiple polar vortices, we Chicagoans have been told more than once to suck it up. My Canadian and Minnesotan colleagues claim this is &ldquo;no big deal&rdquo; where they come from.</p><p>&ldquo;Welcome to my winter,&rdquo; they scoff, pulling on industrial-sized parkas and marching into the snow.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>I silently endured their scoffing while secretly plotting to prove that we native Chicagoans are not weather wimps at all -- but just the opposite. It&#39;s my contention that while we may not embrace the Inuit lifestyles, Chicagoans have to work and live through more weather extremes than probably anybody.</p><p>And we have the potholes to prove it.</p><p>After surviving this wretched winter, for example, we may face summer temps that exceed 100 degrees for days in a row.</p><p>Certainly, we must get the worst of it on both ends, making us the toughest people in the nation. Right? Probably.</p><p>This would require some reporting.</p><p>Barbara Mayes Bousted, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Omaha, Neb., recently created the <a href="https://ams.confex.com/ams/93Annual/webprogram/Paper218513.html" target="_blank">Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index</a>. Using factors such as temperature and precipitation, it basically measures how miserable winter has been for communities across the country this year and beyond.</p><p>Unfortunately, it is not exactly what is needed, because I am looking for misery on both ends of the temperature spectrum.<br /><br />&ldquo;That&rsquo;s an interesting puzzle to piece together, to figure out the range of extremes all the way from the heat to the cold,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But the index that I&rsquo;m using doesn&rsquo;t account for how far we go to the other end, the warm side.&rdquo;</p><p>She and colleagues pointed to everyone from scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to scholars to WGN meteorologist Tom Skilling. All were super nice, but none could answer this question of overall toughness.&nbsp;</p><p>Just when the search seemed like it hit a dead end, I stumbled on<a href="http://www.city-data.com/top2/toplists2.html"> Citydata.com.</a> It cranks out all sorts of Top 101 city lists by crunching statistics in a variety of categories. These include lowest average temperature, highest average snowfall, coldest winters and -- YES! -- largest annual temperature differences in cities with populations above 50,000.</p><p>Certainly, Chicago would top this this, right?</p><p>Well, not on the face of it.<br /><br />The list led with Grand Forks in North Dakota, followed by a bunch of towns in that state, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin. Then finally Illinois, whose most extreme weather town (with over 50,000 people) is Rockford (No. 41), followed by Hoffman Estates (No. 43). Chicago didn&rsquo;t show up til No. 66.</p><p>Why is Hoffman Estates, in the northwest suburbs, so much colder than Chicago? That&rsquo;s a story for another day.</p><p>I decided that this list was crowded up with too many small towns. The target was metropolitan cities whose residents have to venture miles to work or school each day -- no matter what cruel joke Mother Nature served up.</p><p>So I narrowed it to cities with more than 250,000 residents. On this list, Chicago soars to sixth place. Only Minneapolis and its twin city St. Paul, Omaha, Milwaukee, and Kansas City beat us in temperature differences in an average year.</p><p>But how much time do these other urbanites really expose themselves to frosty or broiling transit platforms or street corners to get where they need to go each day?</p><p>The data on public transportation usage showed that only pesky Minneapolis bested us here. It seems that 14.4 percent of them take the bus or trolley to work, while we check in at 13 percent.&nbsp;</p><p>But when we added in the share of people who take the subway or elevated train to work each day, Chicago (at 9.7 percent) pulled ahead.</p><p>It is true that Minneapolis doesn&#39;t really have a subway or el system to help them on that list. &nbsp;But I think we win fair and square.</p><p>Still, some folks from the Twin Cities disagree.</p><p>To Lynette Kalsnes, my fellow WBEZ producer, our winters hardly compare to the those of her Twin Cities youth. &ldquo;I laugh at the very idea,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been in Chicago for 12 or 13 years and this is the first winter that has approximated anything like Minnesota.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Still, she acknowledges that our summers are&nbsp; pretty brutal, even though folks in Minneapolis also get hit with high temperatures, copious mosquitoes, and humidity.</p><p>But how can they say they&rsquo;re tough when they have those skyways between buildings.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re only using that if you work in downtown Minneapolis to get from your job to get your lunch,&rdquo; Kalsnes parried. &ldquo;But you&rsquo;re outside the rest of the time. It&rsquo;s not like the whole state is a pedestrian mall.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>It&rsquo;s clear that these arguments could go on forever. But as one colleague pointed out, it is a little weird that we would engage in a debate over whose city serves up the most misery.</p><p>And yes, you could look at it that way. Or you could say that these debates really reflect how much we must love our cities in order to endure such extremes.</p><p>You could also say that these extremes make us all the more grateful for good weather.&nbsp;</p><p>As Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said, &ldquo;I think that no one appreciates a perfect, beautiful, summer, spring, fall, or even winter day more than a Minnesotan.&rdquo;</p><p>Well, we could offer a debate on that, but I think we should &nbsp;just call it a draw. That is because, even though Chicagoans are tough, we&rsquo;re also a very generous people.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the&nbsp;</em><em><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/chewing-fat-podcast-louisa-chu-and-monica-eng">Chewing the Fat</a></strong></em><em> podcast. Follow her at&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at&nbsp;</em><em><a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org">meng@wbez.org</a></em></p></p> Wed, 05 Mar 2014 16:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/are-chicagoans-toughest-big-city-dwellers-nation-109816 How often are cabs pulled over? And what for? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/how-often-are-cabs-pulled-over-and-what-109734 <p><p><a name="video"></a><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/0zK8vTcqQck?rel=0" width="620"></iframe><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/135672786&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Listen to this story on the Curious City podcast, including a debrief with question-asker Dan Monaghan and WBEZ reporter Odette Yousef, at minute 5:53 in the audio above.&nbsp;</em></p><p>Dan Monaghan bikes and drives and walks a lot in Chicago. He sees a lot on the road that irritates him, especially from cab drivers. But he doesn&rsquo;t see them getting pulled over all that often. So he wrote in to Curious City with a pretty simple question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>How often are taxis pulled over and what is the most often issued offense they receive?</em></p><p>Or at least it seemed simple when we took it on back in August. We figured a simple data request to the right city department would yield a clear-cut conclusion. But nearly a dozen Freedom of Information requests and six months later, here&rsquo;s the answer.</p><p>We don&rsquo;t know.</p><p>(<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Re72di5phM0">cue the crickets</a>)</p><p>But not all is lost. Because what we did learn on this long, strange trip is interesting in its own right. Our investigation afforded us a rare look inside the world of Chicago taxi drivers, and underlines what could be a tough road ahead &ndash; one increasingly <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cabbies-threaten-abandon-uber-over-changes-109625" target="_blank">riddled</a> with <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cab-livery-companies-sue-city-over-rideshare-companies-109655">potholes</a>, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cabbies-threaten-abandon-uber-over-changes-109625" target="_blank">speed</a> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/silence-medallion-auction-puzzles-some-109546">bumps</a> and yes, the occasional ticket from law enforcement.</p><p>Fasten your seatbelts, and I&#39;ll try to explain.</p><p><strong>The data trail</strong></p><p>The first surprising thing we learned in tackling this question is that there&rsquo;s not one department that contains all the data. The city&rsquo;s Department of Finance has some, the city&rsquo;s Department of Administrative Hearings has some, the city&rsquo;s department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection has some, and the Circuit Court of Cook County has some too. Each of these required separate (and sometimes multiple) data requests.</p><p>In addition, the legal codes that underly the citations don&rsquo;t match up across departments. For example, there is an offense under the <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/bacp/rulesandregs/publicchauffeursrulesregs20121203.pdf">city&rsquo;s rules for taxi drivers</a> called &ldquo;reckless driving&rdquo; (see Rule CH5.08). There&rsquo;s also a part of the state&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=062500050HCh.+11&amp;ActID=1815&amp;ChapterID=49&amp;SeqStart=102800000&amp;SeqEnd=125900000">vehicle code</a> about &ldquo;reckless driving&rdquo; (Sec. 11-503). But these two things aren&rsquo;t necessarily identical &ndash; and they may not match up with what you, or I, might call &ldquo;reckless driving,&rdquo; were we to witness something on the street.</p><p>To put a finer point on it, the data we got back from the Circuit Court showed only ten citations written in 2012 to cab&nbsp;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/dan and odette.PNG" style="height: 222px; width: 370px; float: right;" title="Dan Monaghan, right, asked Curious City about the most common citations given to cab drivers. WBEZ's Odette Yousef, left, helped answer his question. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" />drivers for &ldquo;reckless driving.&rdquo; But the same data shows 1,433 citations that year for speeding. Some might consider speeding to be reckless driving, but tickets may be written under different parts of the code. Separately, that year the&nbsp;Department of Administrative Hearings shows 996 citations for &ldquo;unsafe driving&rdquo; (which, we&rsquo;ll explain a bit later, may be a vastly underreported figure). But &ldquo;unsafe driving&rdquo; under the city code is quite broad. It may include offenses that, under the state rules, would be filed under &ldquo;reckless driving&rdquo; and speeding.</p><p>This is all to say that even when we do get data, we can&rsquo;t just pool it all together for analysis. The same offenses may be defined differently, depending on whether you&rsquo;re looking at city code or state laws, and even those might not match up with what we, in our own minds, may consider to be dangerous conduct!</p><p><strong>The known knowns</strong></p><p>Most of the violations that taxi drivers get slapped with end up with the City of Chicago, and not with the Circuit Court of Cook County. But let&rsquo;s dwell on the latter violations for a bit, because the vast majority of them are for moving violations. This is likely what Dan was thinking about when he wondered how often taxis are pulled over: how often do police intervene when they see a taxi doing something wrong?</p><p><script id="infogram_0_adjudication-of-taxi-citations-2012" src="//e.infogr.am/js/embed.js" type="text/javascript"></script></p><p>There were more than 7,300 tickets written to taxis that were adjudicated by the Cook County Circuit Court in 2012. They were written out to about 4,300 different vehicles, but when you dig into it, each of those vehicles might have been used by several different drivers over the course of the year. For example, taxi plate 21188TX racked up the highest number of tickets for moving violations adjudicated by the Cook County Circuit Court in 2012 -- thirteen tickets in all. But those tickets were earned by three different people who drove that car.</p><p>Sorting by name doesn&rsquo;t really help either. According to this data, Mohammed Khan received a ton more tickets than anyone else in this data set &ndash; a whopping 27 in one year &ndash; but heavens knows how many Mohammed Khans are driving cabs in Chicago. It&rsquo;s not an uncommon name.</p><p>This makes it difficult for us even to give a range of numbers for taxi drivers who saw tickets. But the City of Chicago has about 7,000 cabs, so the number of times cabs would have been written tickets that headed to the Circuit Court would average out at about once per cab in 2012.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s the thing: not all tickets head to the Circuit Court of Cook County. Police may instead cite a violation of the city code instead, which means the ticket would end up going to the Department of Administrative Hearings. In 2012, that department recorded 996 cases of &ldquo;unsafe driving&rdquo; for taxis. But this does not necessarily mean they all resulted from a police pulling the vehicle over. Some may have. But many may have resulted instead from a 311 call.</p><p>Now, even though Dan asked about how often cabs are &ldquo;pulled over,&rdquo; we took a bit of creative license with his inquiry to find out more broadly what the most common tickets and citation were for cabbies. That is to say, not just tickets that resulted from a cop pulling a cab over, but also ones that may have been issued for parking violations, for example.</p><p><strong>These are things we know that we know</strong></p><p>Parking tickets and red light camera tickets are a big headache for cab drivers in Chicago. The city&rsquo;s Department of Finance tracks this information and provided us with humongous spreadsheets of all those tickets that were written in 2012. Turns out that year, more than 28,000 tickets were written to cab drivers for parking-related violations. This meshed pretty well with what cabbies told us, and helped us unearth a phenomenon we hadn&rsquo;t known of: the so-called &ldquo;fly tickets.&rdquo;</p><p>One driver who explained it to us was Al Smith, who had to file for bankruptcy because of $5,000 in overdue parking tickets alone. Smith noted that over the years, the city has gotten rid of many of its cab stands, eliminating sanctioned places for cabbies to pull into to pick up and drop off passengers. At the same time, Smith contended that the city has become more aggressive in ticketing drivers who pull over in tow zones or other restricted spaces for even brief moments to offload or pick up.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/04.jpg" style="float: left; height: 210px; width: 373px;" title="Cab driver Al Smith, right, filed for bankruptcy because of $5,000 in overdue parking tickets alone. Dan Monaghan, left, started this investigation into cab citations with his question for Curious City. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" />&ldquo;See this corner we just passed here at Union Station?&rdquo; he pointed out, &ldquo;The last space of that cab line is designated a tow zone. But they use it like a weapon.&rdquo; Smith explained that the city assigned a traffic enforcement agent specifically at that space to catch cab drivers who pull into that spot. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re not parked there. We&rsquo;re just processing there,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;But if they catch you in that space, they will write you a ticket.&rdquo;</p><p>Many cab drivers complained of similar enforcement, noting that city rules allow cab drivers to pull over in restricted spaces for a few minutes to allow passengers on or off. But often the enforcement officers who write up the tickets do not hand them, in-person, to the drivers. Instead, they are posted in the mail, arriving in drivers&rsquo; mailboxes weeks after the offense allegedly occurred. A driver may have picked up and dropped off hundreds of people in the intervening time, and often cannot even recollect where she or he was at the time of the purported offense.</p><p>Red light camera tickets accounted for nearly 9,000 tickets to taxi drivers in 2012. That generated at least $843,000 dollars for the city (cha-ching!). Interestingly, there were a couple of taxis that were each issued 14 red light camera tickets that year alone. Does that count as reckless driving? Maybe. But with the automated ticketing system, the city no longer relies on police to pull them over.</p><p><script id="infogram_0_top-citations-issues-to-taxi-drivers-2012" src="//e.infogr.am/js/embed.js" type="text/javascript"></script></p><p><strong>There are known unknowns</strong></p><p>Aside from the data held by the Circuit Court of Cook County (mostly moving violations) and the Department of Finance (mostly parking and red light cameras), there is also untold amounts of data at the City of Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Administrative Hearings. This department keeps track of all citations issued under the city&rsquo;s Rules and Regulations for <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/bacp/rulesandregs/publicchauffeursrulesregs20121203.pdf">public chauffeurs</a> and for <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/bacp/publicvehicleinfo/medallionowners/medallionlicenseholderrulesregsf20120626.pdf">medallion owners</a>.</p><p>This is where we ran into problems. Despite having data on citations that were issued under those parts of the city code in 2012, the department is incapable of searching their database in useful ways. We submitted multiple requests for data of the top ten violations for taxi drivers in that year. But the department was unable to do this search, and asked us to specify which violations we wanted to know about. Obviously, this is not very helpful.</p><p>However, somewhat inexplicably, the department was able to tell us that the top two violations were for &ldquo;unsafe driving&rdquo; and &ldquo;discourteous conduct.&rdquo; As mentioned earlier, this department adjudicated fewer than 1000 citations for unsafe driving. However, it handled more than 4,000 citations for discourteous conduct.</p><p>But let&rsquo;s complicate this even more. James Mueller once worked for the city, and helped write many of the rules that still govern Chicago&rsquo;s taxi industry today. After he retired, he briefly used his lawyering skills to help cab drivers fight citations in the city&rsquo;s Administrative Hearings Court. He told us that this experience was revelatory, because often decisions &ndash; on both sides &ndash; were not reached according to what made the roads safer, but for what was more expeditious.</p><p>Mueller specifically saw this happen with cab drivers who came into the court after being cited for reckless driving. &ldquo;And the city will tell them on a reckless driving [charge], I would say probably 9 times out of 10, unless the person has a &nbsp;bad record, &lsquo;if you plead guilty I&rsquo;ll amend the charge from reckless driving to general simple discourteous conduct and offer a relatively low fine,&rsquo;&rdquo; Mueller said.</p><p>Often, the cab driver would take the deal, said Mueller, because the penalty for discourteous conduct is a relatively minor fine. On the other hand, if the driver were to be found guilty of reckless driving, he or she would have to go back to public chauffeur training school, undergo a physical exam and get a drug test. At the worst, this risks his or her license, and at best, results in a loss of income for several weeks while they try to get reinstated.</p><p>&ldquo;So a lot of those reckless driving charges, whether they happened or not, get shifted to general discourtesy,&rdquo; said Mueller. &ldquo;And that way it&rsquo;s more efficient for the city to handle all of those cases, you get all these guilty pleas, you get all of this money coming in, and that&rsquo;s the way it works.&rdquo;</p><p><script id="infogram_0_taxi-complaints-from-311-calls-2012" src="//e.infogr.am/js/embed.js" type="text/javascript"></script></p><p>We asked the city&rsquo;s Department of Administrative Hearings if they could share data on what the original charges, and what the amended charges were for each of the citations in 2012. It could not provide us with that data. So in the end, the information we received about discourteous conduct and unsafe driving from this source may be completely unreliable.</p><p>One thing this could explain, however, is the enormous mismatch between cab complaints called in via 311, and the violations that the city adjudicates. In 2012, the city took about 14,000 calls about taxis. Half of those were to report reckless driving. Fewer than 1,200 were to report a &ldquo;rude&rdquo; cab driver. Less than 5 percent of those 311 calls ended up with a case being filed with the city&rsquo;s Department of Administrative Hearings. It turns out, the vast majority of 311 callers either don&rsquo;t take note of essential details about the cab that irked them (such as its cab number), or they don&rsquo;t follow through with filling out an affidavit of the complaint.</p><p><strong>Finally, there are also unknown unknowns</strong></p><p>On top of the data we requested (and mostly didn&rsquo;t receive) from the Department of Administrative Hearings, there is a whole spectrum of other violations that a cab driver might receive. Typically, these would be for non-moving violations &ndash; things relating to the condition of his or her vehicle, like whether a tail light is out, or whether there are scratches on the vehicle.</p><p>This may not be what Dan was originally getting at in his question, but it became apparent in talking to people that these kinds of infractions can add up to significant cost and inconvenience for both drivers and cab owners. On the flip side of that coin, they also can add up to hefty revenue for the city. Unfortunately, the Department of Administrative Hearings was unable to provide us with any data falling under this section of the municipal code.</p><p><strong>In sum&hellip;</strong></p><p>In sum, it sounds like taxi drivers are hit with tickets more than other drivers are &ndash; whether they be pulled over by a cop, caught by a red light camera, or later receive a &ldquo;fly ticket&rdquo; in the mail. And it&rsquo;s not just city agents that are keeping an eye on them. They&rsquo;re subject to scrutiny by other drivers, bikers, and pedestrians who call 311 and can report violations.</p><p>The industry, too, has some interest in keeping the worst drivers off the road. Responsible taxi affiliation companies keep track of how safe drivers are, because they don&rsquo;t want to foot higher insurance premiums for the unsafe ones.</p><p>&ldquo;We have to be at an ultimate &ndash; or a heightened &ndash; level of awareness a lot of times,&rdquo; said Smith, the cab driver, &ldquo;which is stressful.&rdquo;</p><p>But Dan&rsquo;s question asked for a number &ndash; how many times cabs are pulled over. And unfortunately we couldn&rsquo;t get that for him. Still, we hope this helps lift the veil a bit on the complicated world of taxi rules and code enforcement.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px;">@oyousef</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px;">@WBEZoutloud</a></em></p></p> Wed, 19 Feb 2014 11:58:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/how-often-are-cabs-pulled-over-and-what-109734 Fantasy and reality: What do Illinois legislators know about prisons? http://www.wbez.org/news/fantasy-and-reality-what-do-illinois-legislators-know-about-prisons-109730 <p><p>Seventy-five percent of the lawmakers in the Illinois House have never stepped foot in a maximum security cell block, and 40 percent of the legislators have never toured or visited a prison even once. This despite the fact that they&rsquo;re the ones signing the checks for the $1.3 billion dollar per year agency. The findings are the result of a WBEZ survey of Iegislators in 2013. Ninety-five of the 118 House members responded to the survey.</p><blockquote><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/fantasy-and-reality-what-do-illinois-legislators-know-about-prisons-109730#map"><strong>Map: Has your state rep ever visited a prison?</strong></a></p></blockquote><p>We asked legislators if they&rsquo;d ever been in a prison, a cell block, a maximum security cell block, and how many prisons they&rsquo;d been in and when. It&rsquo;s perhaps a bit of a crude measure but gives some insight into how much legislators know about the costly agency.</p><p>A number of them refused to participate in the 9-question survey that takes, seriously, about 90 seconds to complete. My sense from some was that they didn&rsquo;t want to go on the record saying they hadn&rsquo;t been in a prison. If I&rsquo;m right then the numbers above regarding how many have been in a prison and how many have walked through a cell block--they&rsquo;re likely conservative.</p><p>The list of legislators who refused to participate is below and includes House Speaker Mike Madigan, whose spokesman said of the survey, &ldquo;It does not look like the type of activity the speaker or his staff participate in.&rdquo; Numerous follow-up calls and emails went unreturned.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202014-02-19%20at%202.07.42%20AM.png" style="width: 400px; height: 274px; float: left;" title="(Responses to the WBEZ state prison survey by Illinois House district.*)" /><strong>Hosting tours</strong></p><p>When State Treasurer Dan Rutherford was elected to the statehouse in the early 1990s he started hosting tours of the Pontiac prison, which was in his district. &ldquo;It was pretty obvious to me that one of the major expenses for the state budget is Department of Corrections, and few people knew anything about it,&rdquo; Rutherford said in a recent interview.</p><p>&ldquo;Having grown up in a community where, you know, generations of families and friends have worked at the correctional center, I don&rsquo;t think the public, really, and particularly policy makers understood what it really was,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>He says every two years he&rsquo;d invite the newly elected freshman legislators to tour the prison, and then if there was enough room he&rsquo;d invite staff members too.</p><p>A spokesman for the Illinois Department of Corrections says the agency still wants as many legislators as possible to tour prisons as often as is feasible. Basically, if a legislator wants a tour, the agency will find a way to make it happen.</p><p>Rep. Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley) used to be on the public safety appropriations committee, which oversees funding for the Department of Corrections. Mautino says his committee used to sometimes meet in prisons. &ldquo;If it&rsquo;s an appropriation person and they&rsquo;re dealing with funding corrections then they should avail themselves of the ability to go into the facilities,&rdquo; Mautino said.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202014-02-19%20at%202.10.17%20AM.png" style="height: 249px; width: 400px; float: right;" title="(Responses to the WBEZ state prison survey by Illinois House district.*)" />Mautino first saw a maximum security prison when he attended a committee meeting in Menard, a maximum security prison in southern Illinois. &rdquo;It gave me a respect for the work that is done by the men and women who work in corrections and I&rsquo;ve always been mindful of their needs,&rdquo; said Mautino.</p><p><strong>Everybody can&rsquo;t be an expert</strong></p><p>&ldquo;You can&rsquo;t expect every legislator to be super interested and engaged in corrections,&rdquo; said Kent Redfield, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois Springfield and a former legislative analyst for House Democrats.</p><p>Redfield says legislators have different areas of expertise and there&rsquo;s a natural division of labor. &ldquo;If you don&rsquo;t have a facility in your district and you&rsquo;ve got a whole bunch of things that are much more important to your constituents, then I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s surprising that you&rsquo;ve got legislators that haven&rsquo;t been to corrections facilities.&rdquo;</p><p>That said, Redfield says legislators shouldn&rsquo;t just be a rubber stamp. They need to know as much as possible, especially in the current climate of shrinking budgets. &ldquo;If all you know is what the Department of Corrections tells you, then that really narrows the kind of decision making options and may predetermine the outcome of budget and policy kinds of decisions,&rdquo; said Redfield.</p><p><strong>Fantasy and Reality</strong></p><p>&ldquo;No one goes in these places. That&rsquo;s why they are how they are,&rdquo; said John Maki, director of the John Howard Association, a nonpartisan prison watchdog group in Illinois.</p><p>Maki says much of what we know about prisons comes from movies and television and is simply not true. &ldquo;What&rsquo;s really unfortunate about our prison policy, not only in Illinois but across the country, is that it really depends upon, not the reality of prisons and what prisons can really do, but I think fantasies, things that are not grounded in reality.&rdquo;</p><p>Maki says it&rsquo;s hard to go into a prison and not start asking some serious questions about what we&rsquo;re doing.</p><p>&ldquo;Well when you go in our prison system and you see how crowded it is, and you see how under-resourced it is, I think it would be very hard to believe that our prison system can actually change people for the better. And that&rsquo;s not a judgement of the Illinois Department of Corrections. They are doing hard work with very limited resources. That&rsquo;s just a kind of fact about the reality of our system,&rdquo; said Maki.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202014-02-19%20at%202.13.42%20AM.png" style="height: 441px; width: 620px;" title="(Responses to the WBEZ state prison survey by Illinois House district.*)" />Maki says if legislators saw that firsthand, they would have to start asking questions about what our prisons are accomplishing and what they cost. He thinks they&rsquo;d also be more thoughtful in the sentences they attach to certain crimes when they pass laws.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not a coincidence I think that the United States has the largest prison system in the world and that we know so little about how prisons actually work,&rdquo; said Maki. &ldquo;Because we don&rsquo;t see these places, we&rsquo;re allowed to believe what we want to believe.&rdquo;</p><p>But Maki says that&rsquo;s not entirely on legislators. They&rsquo;re not the only ones who don&rsquo;t visit prisons to see the reality firsthand. &ldquo;Typically judges don&rsquo;t do this, prosecutors don&rsquo;t do this, defenders don&rsquo;t do this, police don&rsquo;t do this. Again, outside of the people who live there, or who work there, almost no one goes in these places that are extremely expensive and where thousands and thousands of lives are kind of coursing through,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>But circling back to the legislators who fund the Department of Corrections and vote on the laws and sentences that put people in prison, Maki says he&rsquo;s not surprised that 40 percent of legislators have never stepped foot into a prison, and 75 percent have never seen a maximum security cell block, &ldquo;They don&rsquo;t go to these places because their constituents don&rsquo;t ask them to.&nbsp; If there was a demand for this, they would do it,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Maki says lawmakers are representatives of the people who vote them into office, and when it comes to prisons the voters aren&rsquo;t demanding anything different.</p><p>*For these visualizations, WBEZ surveyed all 118 of the Illinois state representatives about their familiarity with the state&#39;s prisons. The survey involved in-person interviews and a nine-question online survey. Of the 118 lawmakers, 95 answered the questions, and 23 refused to provide any information.</p><p>Map of responses to the WBEZ state prison survey by Illinois House district. Click on district areas to see complete responses from individual state representatives.<a name="#map"></a></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/map%20legend.jpg" style="height: 48px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div> <style type="text/css"> #map-canvas { width:620px; height:900px; } .layer-wizard-search-label { font-family: sans-serif };</style> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://maps.google.com/maps/api/js?sensor=false"> </script><script type="text/javascript"> var map; var layer_0; function initialize() { map = new google.maps.Map(document.getElementById('map-canvas'), { center: new google.maps.LatLng(39.77761093074509, -89.23360066992188), zoom: 7 }); var style = [ { featureType: 'all', elementType: 'all', stylers: [ { saturation: -99 } ] } ]; var styledMapType = new google.maps.StyledMapType(style, { map: map, name: 'Styled Map' }); map.mapTypes.set('map-style', styledMapType); map.setMapTypeId('map-style'); layer_0 = new google.maps.FusionTablesLayer({ query: { select: "col22>>0", from: "14y5bhd5vVGUWhCP33hdTbNR-eTG1J_QsBDDmgdE" }, map: map, styleId: 2, templateId: 2 }); } google.maps.event.addDomListener(window, 'load', initialize); </script><div id="map-canvas">&nbsp;</div><p>*Survey results do not include three Illinois state representatives who took office after August 2013. Results do include three lawmakers who stepped down after August 2013.</p><p class="p1">Complete responses to the WBEZ state prison survey. Sort the chart by name, party or district to find your lawmaker&#39;s responses.</p><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> {"dataSourceUrl":"//docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/tq?key=0AmzGTEnmVgYydGtnZjF0THR1Mi1tSW1DM1FqTkhYTlE&transpose=0&headers=1&range=A1%3AH119&gid=0&pub=1","options":{"vAxes":[{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":"Left vertical axis title","minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null}],"titleTextStyle":{"fontSize":16},"series":{"0":{"hasAnnotations":true},"1":{"hasAnnotations":true}},"booleanRole":"certainty","title":"Chart title","height":900,"animation":{"duration":500},"legend":"right","width":620,"focusTarget":"series","hAxis":{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":"Horizontal axis title","minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},"tooltip":{"trigger":"none"}},"state":{},"view":{"columns":[0,1,{"label":"Party","properties":{"role":"annotation"},"sourceColumn":2},{"label":"Have you ever visited an Illinois state prison?","properties":{"role":"annotationText"},"sourceColumn":3},4,{"label":"Have you walked through a cell block?","properties":{"role":"annotation"},"sourceColumn":5},{"label":"Have you walked through a cell block in a maximum security prison?","properties":{"role":"annotationText"},"sourceColumn":6},7]},"isDefaultVisualization":false,"chartType":"Table","chartName":"Chart 1"} </script></p> Tue, 18 Feb 2014 15:57:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/fantasy-and-reality-what-do-illinois-legislators-know-about-prisons-109730 Back in the old neighborhood, parolees struggle for fresh starts http://www.wbez.org/news/back-old-neighborhood-parolees-struggle-fresh-starts-109685 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 12.36.14 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p>In 2006, Nelton Edwards and his girlfriend had a nasty breakup in front of her Austin home. She threw his clothes outside, and Edwards did something he would soon regret.</p><p>&ldquo;When she threw my clothes out I was too angry and stupid at the time to just grab them up, put them in the car and go,&rdquo; Edwards said. &quot;So I burned them up.&rdquo;</p><p>Edwards, 57, served five years for aggravated arson and is now out on parole.</p><p>&ldquo;The system is kind of unforgiving. Once you have did your time and supposedly paid your debt to society, it&rsquo;s almost like society doesn&rsquo;t forgive you,&rdquo; Edwards said.</p><blockquote><p><strong>MAP: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/back-old-neighborhood-parolees-struggle-fresh-starts-109685#map" target="_self">Where do parolees live in Chicago?</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>The Austin neighborhood, where Edwards grew up, has 21 percent unemployment &ndash; and a large population of people with criminal records. For some, where you live can have a profound impact on how your life turns out.</p><p>WBEZ analyzed 2012 data from the Illinois Department of Corrections, and found that thousands of adults return to just a handful of Chicago zip codes after they get out of prison. For example, four West Side zip codes &ndash; 60651, 60644, 60624 and 60612 &ndash; had more than 2,400 parolees return in that one year alone.</p><p>Many of these neighborhoods already have high rates of violence, unemployment and poverty. The large number of parolees living there becomes a collective burden increasingly hard to bear.</p><p><strong>It&rsquo;s hard enough to find a job without a criminal record</strong></p><p>On a recent morning, a small group of job seekers fills out paperwork at the Westside Health Authority while community organizer Charles Perry gives them a pep talk.</p><p>&ldquo;If they can get you lined up for an interview, your record isn&rsquo;t an issue. It&rsquo;s just you selling yourself when you get to the job,&rdquo; said Perry, who helps match up his clients with employers.</p><p>Perry once did time in the federal penitentiary on a drug conviction; he understands the devastating effects of post-incarceration better than most.</p><p>&ldquo;The impact is great when you come back to a community where when you look and you can go through Austin and you see very few shops open. There&rsquo;s very few opportunities for men and women coming home as opposed to a community that&rsquo;s vibrant, that&rsquo;s growing where there&rsquo;s employment, new businesses coming in. You have communities like Austin, Englewood, Roseland, that&rsquo;s not happening,&rdquo; Perry said.</p><p>Yet those are the very neighborhoods that have the highest numbers of parolees.</p><p>As the prison population continues to grow that means more parolees looking for work in competition with others who have criminal records. In many of these neighborhoods, it&rsquo;s hard enough to find a job without a criminal record.</p><p>The generational cycle of incarceration in largely African-American neighborhoods can breed hopelessness among its residents.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Back in the old neighborhood, resisting illegal activity around him</strong></p><p>Tristan Flowers, 25, lives in his grandmother&rsquo;s gray frame house in Austin. It looks like a grandmother&rsquo;s house with framed pictures of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela hanging on the walls.</p><p>Flowers got out of prison last month after serving 18 months for selling narcotics &ndash; a charge he denies.</p><p>But Flowers sheepishly admits he has sold drugs in the past.</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t lie and say I haven&rsquo;t. But the case I just got out on wasn&rsquo;t mine,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Flowers says his drug selling got him in trouble as far back as high school when he was expelled. But he learned a few lessons and eventually picked up some plumbing and carpentry skills.</p><p>In his grandmother&rsquo;s kitchen where he installed the laminate tiles, Flowers reviews a list of companies who hire people with criminal records. He wants to be working by springtime and has practiced his pitch to employers.</p><p>&ldquo;Don&rsquo;t let my past alter my future. He should be able to take that,&rdquo; Flowers says referring to a hypothetical hiring manager. He continued: &ldquo;I&rsquo;ll shoot a little smile at him or whatever the case may be and work my number with him.&rdquo;</p><p>Flowers&rsquo; tenacity may pay off. But he said a number of his friends and family are still involved in illegal activity in Austin.</p><p><strong>Feeling trapped, parolees speak frankly about ways to cope</strong></p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s limited to no opportunities in these communities. Employers don&rsquo;t want to come to these communities because of the fear of violence,&rdquo; said Anthony Lowery, the policy and advocacy director at the Safer Foundation. The nonprofit works with people who have been convicted of felonies.</p><p>&ldquo;The thing that I see as far as a person who lives in Englewood when I come out of my house in the morning, there may be two other men on the block who are working legal, gainful employment.&rdquo;</p><p>Lowery said schoolchildren don&rsquo;t see enough adults, especially men, going off to work.</p><p>&ldquo;But when they come back from school in the afternoon, they see the corners crowded with men with illegal activity, drug sales,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>That kind of environment can be toxic and add stress to the community as a whole. So even those who don&rsquo;t have a prison experience are affected by the returning parolees.</p><p>Lynn Todman conducted mental health impact assessments on job-seekers with criminal records the Adler School of Professional Psychology and found anxiety, depression and low self esteem.</p><p>&ldquo;When you have large number of people with no hope of kind of integrating back into society because of their records, some people out of desperation will engage in activities that create fear throughout the community. Sometimes that means selling drugs, sometimes that means burglaries. That exacerbates or amplifies the levels of anxiety and stress in communities,&rdquo; Todman said.</p><p>The researcher said she learned something else with her Englewood focus group, but warns &ldquo;it&rsquo;s a very dangerous comment to put out there publicly.&rdquo;</p><p>After a bit of hesitation, Todman reveals that some men talked about one coping strategy in particular.</p><p>&ldquo;Sex,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;That in a world where there&rsquo;s constant rejection and their self esteem is compromised constantly, they&rsquo;re always seeking ways of self soothing. Drugs is one. Alcohol is another. Sex is another. And they linked this to unwanted pregnancies and STDs in the community.&rdquo;</p><p>Todman is quick to add that this doesn&rsquo;t justify stereotypes of the hypersexualied black male. It&rsquo;s far from pathological behavior, she said. Other research shows sex can be a human coping mechanism for lots of people &ndash; including white middle-class men.</p><p>But the honesty of Todman&rsquo;s focus group underscores the ripple effect of joblessness and incarceration. Worse yet, many parolees suffer from poverty and can&rsquo;t afford to move out of their familiar neighborhoods.</p><p>But for those who do, there is hope.</p><p><strong>Moving to a new neighborhood to escape his past</strong></p><p>Nelton Edwards, the guy who went to prison for burning his clothes, is feeling good these days. He works at a suburban manufacturing plant. He left his drug use behind. And perhaps, most importantly, he doesn&rsquo;t live in Austin.</p><p>&ldquo;Yes, that was deliberate, that I never went back to the West Side. I don&rsquo;t care to live on the West Side of Chicago,&rdquo; Edwards said.</p><p>He had to move on.</p><p>&ldquo;My friends were over there they were getting high. We gambled, shoot pool, go partying. That was what I did. I started changing my life. I was getting away from that because it is people, places and things,&rdquo; Edwards said.</p><p>Edwards now rents an apartment in an affordable housing mid rise in the South Loop. The area&rsquo;s bustling with lots of retail, transportation and food amenities.</p><p>Opportunity he didn&rsquo;t have in his segregated neighborhood.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0">Natalie Moore</a> is a WBEZ reporter. nmoore@wbez.org Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p><p><a name="map"><strong>Where do parolees live?</strong></a></p><p>This map reflects 2012 adult parolee Chicago zip code data from the Illinois Department of Corrections.</p> <style type="text/css"> #map-canvas { width:620px; height:900px; } .layer-wizard-search-label { font-family: sans-serif };</style> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://maps.google.com/maps/api/js?sensor=false"> </script><script type="text/javascript"> var map; var layer_0; function initialize() { map = new google.maps.Map(document.getElementById('map-canvas'), { center: new google.maps.LatLng(41.840791157740036, -87.72695015869141), zoom: 11 }); var style = [ { featureType: 'all', elementType: 'all', stylers: [ { saturation: -99 } ] }, { featureType: 'road.highway', elementType: 'all', stylers: [ { visibility: 'off' } ] }, { featureType: 'road.local', elementType: 'all', stylers: [ { visibility: 'off' } ] }, { featureType: 'administrative.province', elementType: 'all', stylers: [ { visibility: 'off' } ] }, { featureType: 'administrative.neighborhood', elementType: 'all', stylers: [ { visibility: 'off' } ] }, { featureType: 'administrative.land_parcel', elementType: 'all', stylers: [ { visibility: 'off' } ] }, { featureType: 'poi', elementType: 'all', stylers: [ { visibility: 'off' } ] }, { featureType: 'transit', elementType: 'all', stylers: [ { visibility: 'off' } ] } ]; var styledMapType = new google.maps.StyledMapType(style, { map: map, name: 'Styled Map' }); map.mapTypes.set('map-style', styledMapType); map.setMapTypeId('map-style'); layer_0 = new google.maps.FusionTablesLayer({ query: { select: "col2>>0", from: "1JR6riVaswYAtH8K4TBkrBF-vI2fdVKPkpA56gkI" }, map: map, styleId: 2, templateId: 2 }); } google.maps.event.addDomListener(window, 'load', initialize); </script><div id="map-canvas">&nbsp;</div><p>* Note: 60608 has a high number, partly because it&rsquo;s the zip code for Cook County Jail. These particular parolees are arrested on new crimes and sent to Cook County Jail, which then becomes their new address&mdash;pending outcome of the new cases. They have not been convicted and returned to IDOC, so they remain &ldquo;parolees&rdquo; on the IDOC list.</p></p> Tue, 11 Feb 2014 13:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/back-old-neighborhood-parolees-struggle-fresh-starts-109685 Native numbers: How many Chicagoans were born in the city? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/native-numbers-how-many-chicagoans-were-born-city-109680 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/134447060%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-j67Bc&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Tracy Miller noticed something about Chicago when she moved here nine years ago. &ldquo;I meet many people who say they are native Chicagoans,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It seems like there are more natives still residing here than in other cities I have lived in.&rdquo;</p><p>Miller came here from Austin, Texas. Before that, she&rsquo;d lived in Dallas and Los Angeles. In all of those cities, she says, &ldquo;Everybody is from somewhere else.&rdquo; But Chicago seemed different. That prompted her to ask Curious City:<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Robert and Tracy in studio FOR WEB.jpg" style="height: 300px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Tracy Miller, left, asked Curious City about multi-generational families in Chicago. Reporter Robert Loerzel, right, helped her find an answer. (WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)" /></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;How many people live here who were born here, and what about the previous generations? There seems to be many generational families that call Chicago home.&rdquo;</em></p><p>It&rsquo;s a simple question, but the answer is complicated &mdash; and hard to pin down. We&rsquo;ll confess upfront that we haven&rsquo;t been able to come up with a statistic that precisely answers Tracy&rsquo;s question. But the <a href="http://www.census.gov" target="_blank">U.S. Census Bureau</a> <em>does </em>collect some data that gets us close to an answer.&nbsp;Those census statistics suggest that the presence of local natives varies quite a bit across Chicago&#39;s neighborhoods and racial groups &mdash; while the city, as a whole, has a &quot;native&quot; profile close to the national average.</p><p><strong>Chicago: Stuck in the middle</strong></p><p>As most people know, the Census Bureau counts &mdash; or at least, it tries to count &mdash; every single person in the country once every 10 years. But the agency also asks more detailed questions in something called the <a href="http://www.census.gov/acs/www/" target="_blank">American Community Survey</a>, or ACS. And that&rsquo;s where we can find some useful information.</p><p>Unfortunately for us, the Census Bureau doesn&rsquo;t ask Chicagoans: &ldquo;Were you born in Chicago?&rdquo; And it doesn&rsquo;t ask, &ldquo;Where were your parents born?&rdquo; But the ACS <em>does </em>ask people if they were born in the same state where they&rsquo;re living.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s not actually a bad place to start,&rdquo; says <a href="http://www.robparal.com" target="_blank">Rob Paral</a>, a local expert in analyzing census data. &ldquo;If you live in Chicago and your parents are born in Illinois, it probably means you were born in Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>According to <a href="http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_5YR/B05002/1600000US1714000" target="_blank">the most recent numbers</a> (a five-year estimate for the years 2008 through 2012), Chicago had 2.7 million people. Almost 1.6 million of those Chicagoans were born in Illinois. Half a million were born somewhere else in the U.S. And 570,000 were immigrants from other countries.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a name="illinois"></a><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="420" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" scrolling="no" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/X7fAV/1/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="610"></iframe></p><p>The key statistic here to answer Tracy&rsquo;s question is 58.5 percent &mdash; that&rsquo;s the percentage of Chicagoans born in Illinois. Of course, that figure includes some people who were born in the suburbs or downstate. But it&rsquo;s a good bet that a significant number of these people are native Chicagoans.</p><p>How does that compare with the rest of the country? Well, as it turns out, the percentage of Chicagoans born in Illinois is almost exactly the same as the national average of Americans born within their current state of residence, which is 58.7 percent. So, if you were expecting a statistic showing how special Chicago is &mdash; cue the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJxCdh1Ps48" target="_blank">sad trombone</a> music &mdash; it looks like we&rsquo;re actually pretty average.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a name="cities"></a><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="420" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" scrolling="no" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/eCHjy/2/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="610"></iframe></p><p>And how does Chicago stack up against other cities? Well, Chicago <em>does </em>have more local natives than <a href="http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_5YR/B05002/1600000US3651000" target="_blank">New York City</a> (where the rate is 49.8 percent) and <a href="http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_5YR/B05002/1600000US0644000" target="_blank">Los Angeles</a> (43.7 percent). But Chicago&rsquo;s percentage isn&rsquo;t actually all that higher than the figures for two of the cities where Tracy used to live. In <a href="http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_5YR/B05002/1600000US4819000" target="_blank">Dallas</a>, 55.3 percent of the residents were born in Texas. And 52.3 percent of the people living in <a href="http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_5YR/B05002/1600000US4805000" target="_blank">Austin</a> are native Texans.</p><p>How is that possible? Remember how Tracy said that everybody in those cities &ldquo;is from somewhere else&rdquo;? That isn&rsquo;t just her imagination. Austin has been one of the country&rsquo;s fastest-growing cities, and it has twice as many people today as it did in 1985. It could be that Dallas and Austin have a bunch of people born in other parts of Texas &mdash; a higher percentage than the number of downstate and suburban Illinois natives who live in Chicago. That&rsquo;s the sort of detail that these broad Census Bureau numbers don&rsquo;t reveal.</p><p>Which cities have the lowest percentages of locally born people? Several of these places are in Nevada. Only 1 out of 4 Las Vegas residents is a native Nevadan. On the other end of the spectrum, Jackson, Miss., has the highest rate of locally born people &mdash; 80.3 percent &mdash; among U.S. cities with populations over 100,000. Other cities ranking high on the list include Peoria, Buffalo, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Detroit and Cleveland. In those places, roughly 3 out of 4 residents are living in the state where they were born &mdash; beating Chicago&rsquo;s percentage.</p><p>However, looking at census data for the entire city of Chicago doesn&rsquo;t tell the whole story. &ldquo;When people ask me questions about Chicago, I start to chop the city up in ways that tend to be illuminating,&rdquo; Paral says. &ldquo;I think: &lsquo;Well, what&rsquo;s the experience for whites, blacks, Latinos?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Uneven &lsquo;Illinoisness&rsquo;</strong></p><p>So let&rsquo;s chop. How do the numbers vary for Chicago&rsquo;s racial groups? About <a href="http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/10_SF4/B05002/1600000US1714000/popgroup~451" target="_blank">55.8 percent of white Chicagoans </a>(not including Hispanic whites) were born in Illinois. And as far as white Chicagoans born in other states, more than half come from the Midwest.</p><p>A little <a href="http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/10_SF4/B05002/1600000US1714000/popgroup~400" target="_blank">less than half of the city&rsquo;s Hispanic or Latino</a> residents were born in Illinois. That&rsquo;s below the city average, which isn&rsquo;t surprising. After all, <a href="http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/B05006/1600000US1714000" target="_blank">more than 260,000 Chicagoans were born in Mexico</a>, far outnumbering any other immigrant group. And only <a href="http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/10_SF4/B05002/1600000US1714000/popgroup~457" target="_blank">21.4 percent of Chicago&rsquo;s Asian-Americans </a>(another segment of the population dominated by recent immigrants) were born in Illinois.<a name="race1"></a></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="420" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" scrolling="no" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/22RAS/2/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="610"></iframe></p><p>But <a href="http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/10_SF4/B05002/1600000US1714000/popgroup~453" target="_blank">75 percent of Chicago&rsquo;s African-Americans</a> were born in Illinois. Paral says the vast majority of the city&rsquo;s young blacks were born here, but older generations include many who arrived from the South during the period known as the Great Migration, roughly from 1910 to 1970. Almost 80 percent of those black Chicagoans who were born in other states come from the South.<a name="race2"></a></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="420" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" scrolling="no" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/NQdzs/2/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="610"></iframe></p><p>Geography offers another way of chopping up the numbers. We created a map showing the percentage of Illinois natives &mdash; let&rsquo;s call it &ldquo;Illinoisness&rdquo; &mdash; in each of Chicago&rsquo;s census tracts. The map shows huge differences. There&rsquo;s a part of the Mount Greenwood neighborhood on the Southwest Side with an astronomically high Illinoisness of 94.7 percent. Meanwhile, the Illinoisness is just 25.2 percent in a section of Streeterville on the North Side. Both areas are predominantly white, but Streeterville is more of a magnet for people moving into Chicago from other states and countries.<a name="map"></a></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="420" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/Generations/generationsPercentIllinoisans1.html" width="620"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/map%20key%201.png" style="width: 278px; height: 50px; float: left;" title="" /></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Paral hadn&rsquo;t seen our map when we asked him what he thought it would show. &ldquo;You would find a high percentage in the African-American areas and the white ethnic areas, such that we have them anymore in Chicago &mdash; like Irish Beverly, for example,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;You&rsquo;d probably see it also on the Far Northwest Side, which is kind of a similar thing, and then in those areas by Midway Airport. Those are sort of the last bastions of white ethnics who are not Latinos in Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>And sure enough, that&rsquo;s pretty much what our map looks like.</p><p><strong>&lsquo;Nativeness&rsquo; over time</strong></p><p>All of this shows how your perceptions might vary depending on which neighborhoods you live in or frequent. And the more neighborhoods you know, the more you&rsquo;ll realize how complex this topic is.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/flickr%20samuelalove.jpg" style="height: 275px; width: 400px; float: left;" title="Tracy Miller, who got us started on this investigation, used to live in Chicago's Ukrainian Village neighborhood, an area still home to many Eastern European immigrants who settled there in the early 1900s. Tracy says there seems to be a lot more connectedness in Chicago than in other cities she's lived in. (Flickr/samuelalove)" /></p><p>When Tracy Miller asked this question, she told us a little about her experiences. Before moving to Lincoln Park, she lived for seven years in Ukrainian Village. &ldquo;Super old neighborhood,&rdquo; she says, recounting how she met families who&rsquo;d lived there for three generations or more. As for Chicago in general, she says, &ldquo;The people that live here now are still directly connected to the history of the city. To me, there&rsquo;s a lot more of that connectedness than &hellip; in other cities.&rdquo;</p><p>Tracy owns Duran European Sandwich Cafe, at 529 N. Milwaukee Ave. in West Town, so she&rsquo;s gotten to know other merchants, and she&rsquo;s often struck by how long they&rsquo;ve been in business. &ldquo;I get all of my restaurant supplies from Herzog (Store Fixture Co.) His father started it. It&rsquo;s been there for 60 years,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Or the sausage shop on Halsted, where I get the potato salad &mdash; those guys have been there for 60 years.&rdquo;</p><p>On the other hand, Tracy is well aware that Chicago attracts young people from other places &mdash; college students and recent graduates without any roots here. &ldquo;I have a lot of young, hip kids working for me that are all between the ages of 21 and 30,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Most of them are from a three- or four-state radius. They&rsquo;ve all grown up somewhere and they&rsquo;ve come here to kind of create their life.&rdquo;</p><p>Author <a href="http://edwardmcclelland.com" target="_blank">Edward McClelland</a> wrote about this phenomenon in his 2013 book &ldquo;<a href="http://edwardmcclelland.com/index.php?page=nothin-but-blue-skies" target="_blank">Nothin&rsquo; But Blue Skies: The Heyday, Hard Times, and Hopes of America&rsquo;s Industrial Heartland</a>.&rdquo; He observed: &ldquo;Chicago is the drain into which the brains of the Middle West disappear. Moving there is not even an aspiration for ambitious Michiganders. It&rsquo;s the accepted endpoint of one&rsquo;s educational progression: grade school, middle school, high school, college, Chicago.&rdquo; And the presence of those young people drives down Chicago&rsquo;s Illinoisness rate.</p><p>Answering the historical part of Tracy&rsquo;s question is just as challenging as the first part. Does Chicago have an unusually large number of families who have been here for generations?</p><p><a href="http://zeega.com/162133" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Oz_History_Pics_015.jpg" title="The Ozinga family immigrated to the Chicago area from the Netherlands in 1891. We talk with third and fourth-generation descendants Jim and Marty Ozinga IV about what it's like to live in a multi-generational family. Click to launch the slideshow. (Photo courtesy Ozinga family)" /></a></p><p>&ldquo;My gut sense is that, yeah, for the most part Chicago is a more rooted place than the cities on the coasts,&rdquo; says Matt Rutherford, curator of genealogy and local history at the <a href="http://www.newberry.org/genealogy-and-local-history" target="_blank">Newberry Library</a>. &ldquo;It just seems like there&rsquo;s less transience here, that there&rsquo;s more rootedness.&rdquo; But he adds, &ldquo;It is actually, surprisingly, a complex question. &hellip; I don&rsquo;t know of a better data-driven way to get at this. It&rsquo;s a fascinating question.&rdquo;</p><p>Unfortunately, census data don&rsquo;t reveal whether people&rsquo;s parents, grandparents and great-grandparents lived in the same cities where they are now. But <a href="http://www.census.gov/prod/www/decennial.html" target="_blank">census reports</a> do give us a picture of how Chicago&rsquo;s population changed over time.</p><p>Throughout the late 1800s, 40 to 50 percent of Chicagoans were European immigrants. In 1900, their most common places of origin were Ireland, Germany, Poland, Sweden and Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic). A fourth of the city&rsquo;s population was Illinois natives. And the final fourth was people who&rsquo;d come here from other states. Their most common states of origin were New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan.</p><p>&ldquo;When you look at Chicago&rsquo;s history ... in the mid- to late 19th century, we find a lot of transients,&rdquo; Rutherford says. &ldquo;Immigrants coming, settling, moving through, particularly with the settlement of the American West.&rdquo; Some of these people stayed in Chicago only a couple of years, he says. But many others put down roots.</p><p>It&rsquo;s helpful that the Census Bureau used to ask people where their parents were born. Thanks to that information, we can calculate how many Chicagoans were children of immigrants. From 1890 through 1920, about three-fourths of Chicagoans were either immigrants or children of immigrants<a name="trends"></a>.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Chicago%20population1.png" style="margin: 5px; height: 444px; width: 610px;" title="" /></p><p><span style="text-align: center;">Chicago&rsquo;s immigrant population reached a peak in 1930, when the city was home to about 859,000 people born in foreign countries &mdash; almost entirely from Europe &mdash; plus 1.3 million children of immigrants, for a total of 2.2 million. That was 65 percent of the city&rsquo;s overall population, which also had a growing number of African-Americans at the time.</span></p><p>So, what happened to all of those people? Obviously, many stayed in Chicago. They had children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Some moved away or died without children. In fact, when we look at today&rsquo;s census numbers, it&rsquo;ll become clear that a lot of these folks left Chicago &mdash; more on that in a moment &mdash; but there&rsquo;s no doubt that many stayed and put down roots. Quantifying exactly how many is the difficult part. But if you look at the trends over time, you can see what happened.</p><p>After a while, those immigrant families were no longer considered immigrants. They were Americans. Their kids and grandkids were counted in the census as Illinois natives.</p><p>&ldquo;I wonder how much that sense of finding a home away from home for these groups really contributed to this permanence of place,&rdquo; Rutherford says. &ldquo;You&rsquo;ve got &mdash; really, throughout Chicago&rsquo;s history &mdash; these different waves of immigrants coming in. ... There had to be some cohesion, something that stuck them all together. And that place ended up being Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p><em><span style="font-size:10px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><a name="ozingazeega"></a>The Ozinga family immigrated to the Chicago area from the Netherlands in 1891. Listen to third and fourth-generation descendants Jim and Marty Ozinga IV talk about what it&#39;s like to live in a multi-generational family and how that&#39;s affected their 85-year-old family business. (below)</span></span></em></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" height="480px" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://zeega.com/162133/embed" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>After 1930, the number of new immigrants arriving in Chicago tapered off. Meanwhile, the migration of African-Americans into the city continued. As those blacks from the South put down roots here, their children and grandchildren joined the ranks of native Chicagoans.</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s population hit a peak of 3.6 million in 1950, and then it started declining, as people began moving out to the suburbs and elsewhere. By 1970, only 22.2 percent of Chicagoans &mdash; or about 748,000 people &mdash; were immigrants or children of immigrants. (That appears to be the last year when census data is available on parents&rsquo; birthplaces, so we don&rsquo;t know what the percentage is today.)</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s foreign-born population began rising again after 1970, as newcomers arrived from Latin America and Asia, but then it started declining again in 2000. Meanwhile, the city&rsquo;s overall population dropped from almost 3.4 million in 1970 to 2.7 million today.</p><p>As the Chicago Tribune noted in a recent editorial, the population has fallen in spite of the fact that Chicago attracts young college grads: &ldquo;The story &hellip; is one of almost uninterrupted out-migration &mdash; an exodus of affluent white families in search of better schools, safer neighborhoods, bigger yards, free parking. For decades, the losses have been cushioned by an influx of immigrants, mostly Hispanic. But still the population fell.&rdquo;</p><p>Even as people came and went, even as people died and babies were born, Chicago&rsquo;s Illinoisness &mdash; that percentage of Chicagoans who were born in Illinois &mdash; has held remarkably steady over the years. For the past half-century, the rate has been hovering just under 60 percent.</p><p><strong>Some reasonable deductions</strong></p><p>If we think back on all of that history as we look at today&rsquo;s census numbers for Chicago, we can make a few educated guesses about Tracy&rsquo;s question. First, let&rsquo;s look at African-Americans. Chicago has 682,000 blacks who were born in Illinois. Many must be the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of blacks who arrived in Chicago during the Great Migration. Some could have local roots going back even further &mdash; they might be descendents of the 14,271 blacks who lived in Chicago in 1890 or the 30,150 who lived here in 1900. But Rutherford says, &ldquo;You&rsquo;re not going to get all that many African-American families here that go back prior to (1910). There was such a huge influx into Bronzeville and other areas in the teens through the &rsquo;40s.&rdquo;</p><p>Latinos and Asian-Americans are less likely to have roots in the city going back many decades. If you look back at 1930 (that year when Chicago&rsquo;s immigrant population hit its all-time high), you&rsquo;ll see low numbers for these groups. Yes, Chicago already had a well-established Chinatown by then, but only 2,757 Chinese-Americans lived in the city. There were 486 Japanese-Americans. And the 1930 census counted 19,362 Mexicans living in Chicago. Certainly, some of the Asian-Americans and Latinos living in Chicago today are descended from those pioneers, but most are likely to come from families who arrived here in the last 50 years.<a href="http://www.chicagoancestors.org/#tab-home" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/tumblr_mzk5a1EBgn1tq9y6bo1_1280.png" style="float: right; height: 386px; width: 450px;" title="The Newberry Library's ChicagoAncestry map can help you learn more about Chicago genealogy and local history. Search their CGS Pioneers collection for information about specific Chicagoans before the Chicago Fire, including this application on behalf of Archibald Clybourn - yes, like Clybourn Ave. (Source: Newberry Library)" /></a></p><p>And there are 480,000 white Chicagoans who were born in Illinois. Surely, a great many of them must be descended from those 2.2 million Chicagoans back in 1930 who were either European immigrants or children of European immigrants. In fact, those numbers make you wonder: Where did all of the other people go? (The suburbs? Cities in other parts of the country &mdash; like, say, Austin, Texas?)</p><p>Now, let&rsquo;s take a look at the <a href="http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_5YR/B04003/1600000US1714000" target="_blank">census numbers about ancestry</a>. It&rsquo;s telling that Chicago&rsquo;s three largest white ethnic groups today &mdash; Germans, Irish and Poles &mdash; were also the biggest groups of European immigrants in 1900. Today, an estimated 204,510 Chicagoans say their ancestry is German or partly German, but only 5,066 were born in Germany. An almost identical number &mdash; 204,495 &mdash; say they&rsquo;re of Irish ancestry, but only 3,453 were born in Ireland.</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s Polish community includes more people who immigrated in recent years, but it&rsquo;s clear that most of Chicago&rsquo;s Polish-American families have been here a long time: 168,453 Chicagoans say they&rsquo;re of Polish ancestry, but only 43,715 were born in Poland, which ranks No. 2 (behind Mexico) on the list of countries where Chicago immigrants were born.</p><p>None of this is ironclad proof that these German, Irish and Polish families have been living in Chicago for a century or longer &mdash; certainly, some moved here from other places in the U.S. &mdash; but it seems like a reasonable deduction. Most of the immigrants from those countries showed up in Chicago in the late 1800s and early 1900s. And German, Irish and Polish are the most dominant ancestries today among Chicago&rsquo;s white population. Ergo, a significant number of them have been here a long time.</p><p>So, what&rsquo;s the answer to Tracy&rsquo;s question? If you take this complex, nuanced city and try to sum it up in one statistic, Chicago looks pretty average. It doesn&rsquo;t have an especially high number of local natives. But some neighborhoods do. And there&rsquo;s fairly persuasive circumstantial evidence that Chicago&rsquo;s population includes many African-American families who have been here more than half a century and descendents of European immigrants who arrived here even earlier.</p><p>It&rsquo;s hard to come up with a single statistic proving that Chicago is special, but we won&rsquo;t argue with you if you continue to think so.</p><p><em>Robert Loerzel is a freelance journalist and the author of &ldquo;Alchemy of Bones: Chicago&rsquo;s Luetgert Murder Case of 1897.&rdquo; Follow him at&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/robertloerzel" target="_blank">@robertloerzel</a>.</em></p><hr /><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><strong><a name="notes"></a>Notes on data: </strong>The term &ldquo;Chicagoan&rdquo; refers to any person permanently residing within Chicago city limits during the years surveyed by the U.S. Census and/or American Community Survey (ACS). ACS 5-year Estimates represent data collected over a 60-month period and do not represent a single year. When possible, we chose to display data collected from ACS 5-year Estimates (as opposed to one or three-year estimates). The five year estimates tend to have smaller margins of error. Racial and ethnic categories roughly correspond to those found in U.S. Census and ACS reports.&nbsp;</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><strong>Where Chicagoans were born</strong></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Source: &nbsp;<a href="http://www.census.gov/" target="_blank">U.S. Census Bureau, 2008-2012 ACS Estimates</a></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><strong>Where Chicagoans were born &mdash; by racial category</strong></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Source: &nbsp;<a href="http://www.census.gov/acs/www/" target="_blank">2006-2010 American Community Survey Selected Population Tables</a></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><strong>Where Chicagoans were born &mdash; by racial category (percentages)</strong></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Source: &nbsp;<a href="http://www.census.gov/acs/www/" target="_blank">2006-2010 American Community Survey Selected Population Tables</a></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><strong>Percentage of residents born in Illinois</strong></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Source: <a href="http://www.census.gov/" target="_blank">U.S. Census Bureau, 2008-2012 ACS Estimates</a></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Notes: Suburbs include those located in DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will Counties, as well as areas of Cook County outside of Chicago.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><strong>How many residents live in the state where they were born</strong></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Source: <a href="http://www.census.gov/" target="_blank">U.S. Census Bureau, 2009 American Community Survey</a></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><strong>Percentage of Illinois-born residents in Chicago</strong></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Source: <a href="http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk" target="_blank">U.S. Census Bureau, 2008-2012 ACS Estimates</a></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Notes: The margin of error for columns in this data are high, sometimes ranging +/- 100% of an entry&rsquo;s value.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><strong>Chicago&rsquo;s population, 1860-2010</strong></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Source: U.S. Census, except &quot;Born in Illinois&quot; figures for 1860, 1910, 1930, 1940 and 1950 are <a href="https://usa.ipums.org/usa/cite.shtml%20for%20full%20citation" target="_self">estimates from University of Minnesota&#39;s IPUMS-USA database</a>.</span></span></p></p> Mon, 10 Feb 2014 16:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/native-numbers-how-many-chicagoans-were-born-city-109680 Just how bad is this Chicago winter? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/just-how-bad-chicago-winter-109637 <p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: This post has been updated to reflect how the 2013-2014 winter season in particular compares to seasons past. It introduces the Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index, which seeks to combine several factors that make winter miserable: temperatures, snowfall and a winter season&#39;s duration. As of March 17, the index would suggest the 2013-2014 was the third-worst since the 1950s. Additionally, the season ranks third-highest when it comes to&nbsp;</em><em><a href="#snow">snowfall</a>&nbsp;measured from Dec. 1 to the end of February.&nbsp;</em><em>Continue reading to see how recent decades (not just this season) compare to those of Chicago&#39;s past when it comes to&nbsp;<a href="#temps">temperature</a>,&nbsp;<a href="#windchill">wind chill</a>,&nbsp;<a href="#extremes">extreme events</a>,&nbsp;<a href="#grey">grey skies</a>, and&nbsp;<a href="#city">city response</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><p>Maybe you&rsquo;re still warming up from January&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/polar-vortex">polar vortex</a> &mdash; replacing your car&rsquo;s battery or repairing the plastic insulation taped into your window frames &mdash; but bear with us: What&rsquo;s the worst part of winter?</p><p>Curious City recently got a related question from Edgewater resident Tracey Rosen:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;Is it&nbsp;true&nbsp;that Chicago winters were worse than they are now?&quot;</em></p><p>I asked Illinois State Climatologist <a href="http://www.wbez.org/results?s=jim%20angel">Jim Angel</a>, who pointed out Tracey&rsquo;s query raises questions of its own.</p><p>&ldquo;I have wrestled with that question before &mdash; what constitutes a &lsquo;bad&rsquo; winter. Is it the snow, the cold temperature, the length of the season, etc.,&rdquo; Angel said in an email. &ldquo;I can tell you that by most measures the winters in the late 1970s were the worst.&rdquo;</p><p>But it depends on what you deem &ldquo;worse.&rdquo; Would that be a winter with more snow? One with more big snowstorms? Should the coldest winter count? Or maybe one where city services like public transportation freeze to a halt?<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/tracey%20rosen%20WEB.jpg" style="float: right; height: 195px; width: 260px;" title="Question-asker Tracey Rosen, who asked Curious City if Chicago winters were really worse than they are now. (Photo courtesy Tracey Rosen)" /></p><p>To answer Tracey&rsquo;s question, we broke down some of the more universal descriptors of a &ldquo;bad&rdquo; winter and found out which years had it the worst (<a href="#temps">temperature</a>, <a href="#windchill">wind chill</a>, <a href="#snow">snowfall</a>, <a href="#extremes">extreme events</a>, <a href="#grey">grey skies</a>, and <a href="#city">city response</a>).</p><p>Along the way we found out what effect a brutal Chicago winter has on the people who live here and how some of them cope. But we also struck gold when we found there&rsquo;ve been attempts to scientifically assign a value to each winter&rsquo;s particular blend of meteorological misery; this would be <a href="#misery">one measurement to rule them all</a> &mdash; or at least allow us to compare a snowy, but mild winter to one that was cold but had clear skies.</p><p><strong><a name="misery"></a>Winter and our discontent</strong></p><p>A scientist with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association researches the question we&rsquo;re asking: How do you judge a severe winter? Barbara Mayes Boustead developed the <a href="https://ams.confex.com/ams/93Annual/webprogram/Paper218513.html" target="_blank">Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index</a> (AWSSI, pronounced &ldquo;aussie&rdquo;) to mathematically pin all of this down.</p><p>AWSSI assigns points to each winter based on its daily temperature maximums and minimums, its snowfall and lingering snow depth, and its length. The index designates the &quot;start&quot; of winter when the first snow falls, or the first high temperature that&rsquo;s 32 degrees or colder. If neither of these happens before Dec. 1, then that&rsquo;s when the index starts counting. The &quot;end&quot; of winter is set by the last snowfall date, the last day with one inch or more of snow depth, or the last day when the maximum temperature is 32 degrees or colder. If none of these occurs after February, then the last day of February is the end of winter.</p><p>The winter of 2013-2014 &ldquo;began&rdquo; in Chicago on Nov. 11, according to AWSSI, with 0.4 inches of snow. That&rsquo;s close to the average start date of Nov. 13, which means it&rsquo;s unlikely to rank as one of the city&rsquo;s longest winters &mdash; several have stretched five or six months. In 2006, winter started on Oct. 12 and didn&rsquo;t end until April 12.</p><p>The following chart represents the trajectory of misery within specific seasons. Read from left to right, you can see when a particular winter season began and &mdash;&nbsp;as the line climbs &mdash; how it performed on the AWSSI scale. This version represents only the five highest- and five lowest-ranking seasons. The blue, filled-in section represents 2013-2014, while the black line follows the average since the start of the 1950-1951 season. &nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/boustead winter update.png" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/boustead%20winter%20update.png" style="height: 447px; width: 615px; margin: 5px;" title="Click to enlarge! This chart shows the five highest-ranking and five lowest-ranking winter seasons according to the Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index. The 2013-2014 season is indicated by the blue, filled-in section and is current through March 17, 2014. The black line represents the average compiled from the beginning of the 1950-1951 winter season. Data provided by NOAA's Barbara Mayes Boustead." /></a></div></div><p>Statistically speaking, the AWWSI suggests that this winter is indeed &quot;bad&quot; compared to previous seasons; as of March 17, Boustead said,&nbsp;2013-2014 ranked as the third-most severe since the 1950s.&nbsp;</p><p>Omaha-based Boustead said she her work&#39;s<a href="http://www.omaha.com/article/20111124/NEWS01/711249895" target="_blank"> inspired by the descriptions in Laura Ingalls Wilder&rsquo;s Little House on the Prairie novels</a>, particularly <em>The Long Winter</em>.</p><p>&ldquo;What I&rsquo;ve been doing this whole thing for is so that I can go back to these records and add up what their AWSSI was that winter and show how severe that winter was,&rdquo; she said.</p><p><strong><a name="temps"></a>Temperatures: chilly, crisp or spiteful</strong></p><p>Looking at data from the <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/">National Climatic Data Center, housed in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration</a>, you can <a href="http://www.southernclimate.org/products/trends.php">get a sense of that &lsquo;70s chill</a> Angel mentioned:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/h9P0LhfCacDnZMY2oWtx98ZK62yvDYMNhyDZGL-DRRCy7T67acaWyh-41Sy1yJ95Jni3eZR7bc-R9YE5kvDpDKhz1LhEMGRTced1Q-wJ5nAAEDrjBqI2ko3HmQ" style="margin: 5px; height: 474px; width: 610px;" title="Winter season temperatures in Illinois. Chart courtesy of Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program. " /></p><p>The green dots are the temperatures during individual winters (December-February). The red and blue areas are periods where warmer and cooler temperatures, respectively, dominated. A relatively cold period for northeastern Illinois (compared to its average winter temperature of 25.1 degrees Fahrenheit) began in 1976 and continued through 1987. Relatively mild winters, average-temperature-wise, immediately followed, from 1988 through 2006.</p><p><a href="http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lot/?n=chi_records">Chicago&rsquo;s coldest month was January 1977</a>, with an average temperature of just 10.1 degrees Fahrenheit. The coldest single temperature reading, however, was eight years later. On January 20, 1985 the thermometers hit 27 degrees below zero. And Chicago&rsquo;s coldest year on record was 1875, with an annual average temperature of 45.1 degrees.</p><p>On Jan. 26, a press release issued by Gov. Pat Quinn&rsquo;s office reminded Illinoisans that some freezes can be fatal:</p><p>&ldquo;Extreme cold temperatures are dangerous and can be deadly. Since 1995, more than 130 fatalities related to cold temperatures have occurred in Illinois, making it the second-leading cause of weather-related deaths in Illinois in the past two decades.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="300" scrolling="no" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/zZVElJBkO7Q?rel=0" width="405"></iframe></p><p>We&rsquo;ve had a few bouts of persistently cold temperatures this winter, including one that approached a length not seen since 1996, when a 66-hour run of subzero temperatures became the area&rsquo;s second longest. That record belongs to a 98-hour period beginning on Dec. 26, 1983.</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s temperature as measured at O&rsquo;Hare Airport has dropped below zero 15 times this winter, <a href="http://blog.chicagoweathercenter.com/category/tims-weather-world/">as of</a> the end of January &mdash; that&rsquo;s twice the long-term average. That puts us not far from the winter of 1978-79, when the city saw subzero temperatures 23 times.</p><p>The1970s were indeed cold and snowy, enough to be a point of pride for the Chicagoans who weathered those years.</p><p>&ldquo;When people comment and say, &lsquo;Oh winters are not as cold as they used to be,&rsquo; it&rsquo;s a way to say, &lsquo;My Chicago is not what it used to be,&rsquo;&rdquo; said our question asker, Tracey Rosen. &ldquo;You know, the identity of the Chicago that I drew from is not what these young people are doing with Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>Statistically speaking, though, the winter of 2013-14 could give young Chicagoans an idea of what their late 70s forbears had to deal with. Again, Barbara Mayes Boustead&#39;s &ldquo;winter severity index&rdquo; ranks this season &mdash; as of March 17 &mdash; the city&rsquo;s third-most &ldquo;severe&rdquo; since the 1950s.&nbsp;</p><p><strong><a name="windchill"></a>Wind chill: The wind blows cold</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Meridith112%20st%20charles%202014.jpg" style="float: left; height: 230px; width: 260px;" title="Wind chills can add some misery to any Chicago winter. (Flickr/Meridith112)" />A biting wind can make an ordinary cold night feel like a deep freeze &mdash; January&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/polar-vortex">polar vortex</a> brought Arctic wind chills as low as 40 degrees below zero. But, Chicago&rsquo;s coldest wind chill ever was -82 degrees. It came on Christmas Eve, 1983.</p><p>The wind in the term &ldquo;wind chill&rdquo; can compound a winter season&rsquo;s misery. For example, gusts can make it hard to clear snow. Tim Gibbons has owned Tim&rsquo;s Snowplowing, Inc. for 30 years. They&rsquo;re located in Humboldt Park now, but Gibbons started plowing in the neighborhood he grew up in and still calls home &mdash; North Center. Lately wind has been making his job difficult.</p><p>&ldquo;What we&rsquo;ve had is the phenomenon of a light, dry snow followed by a heavy-wind vortex, as these systems pass, that is taking that same light, dry snow and moved it back across whatever surface it was on,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If it was a wet, heavy snow &hellip; it&rsquo;s less likely to be driven by any wind. But this light, dry, fluffy snow moves around like dust.&rdquo;</p><p><strong><a name="snow"></a>Snowfall: Speaking of fluffy stuff</strong></p><p>According to <a href="http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lot/?n=CHI_winter_snow">data from the National Weather Service</a>, four of the five snowiest decades since 1890 have occurred in the last 50 years, as have eight of the 10 snowiest individual winters on record. Average snowfall for winters in the 1970s was just over 40 inches per year. (For comparison, the decade with the driest winters was the 1920s, with only 18.2 inches of snowfall per year on average.)</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" scrolling="no" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/kgv6U/2/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="600"></iframe></p><p>Chicago went 107 days with snow on the ground from November 27, 1978 to March 13, 1979.</p><p>This season, it&#39;s unlikely we&#39;ll have snow in sight for such a long period. And, despite some notable snowfalls, some key operations are able to keep up. According to climatologist Jim Angel, this winter we have not gone more than about four days in a row with snow cover at O&rsquo;Hare. &quot;Of course,&quot; he adds, &quot;some of the piles of snow in parking lots are lasting a lot longer.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p><strong><a name="extremes"></a>Finding the extremes</strong></p><p>Just as averages can blur individual data points, looking at total snowfall can miss the difference between a quaint winter wonderland and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoth">Hoth</a>: huge snowstorms.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/winter%20%20Forest%20Preserve%20District%20of%20Cook%20County%20Records%2C%20University%20of%20Illinois%20at%20Chicago%20Library.jpg" style="float: right; height: 241px; width: 300px;" title="One good thing about lots of snow? Tobagganing. (Photo courtesy Forest Preserve District of Cook County Records, University of Illinois at Chicago Library)" />Since 1886, there have been 42 storms that brought 10 inches of snow or more to Chicago, said Ben Deubelbeiss of the National Weather Service. (The most recent one was in 2011, when <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/2011-blizzard">more than 20 inches of snow blanketed the city, stranding cars on Lake Shore Drive</a>.) Every decade has had at least one such storm, but the 1890s leads the pack with seven. The 1970s is a close second, however, with six snowstorms that dropped at least 10 inches. The 1960s were third, with five.</p><p>How about individual years? It&rsquo;s rare for any given year to have more than one Chicago snowstorm that big. In fact, Deubelbeiss said since NWS&rsquo; records began in 1886, only five years have had two storms with more than 10 inches of snow each: 1894, 1895, 1896, 1978, and 1970.</p><p>Here are Chicago&rsquo;s ten biggest snowstorms:</p><p>1. 23.0 inches Jan 26-27, 1967<br />2. 21.6 inches Jan 1-3, 1999<br />3. 21.2 inches Feb. 1-2, 2011<br />4. 20.3 inches Jan 13-14, 1979<br />5. 19.2 inches Mar 25-26, 1930<br />6. 16.2 inches Mar 7-8, 1931<br />7. 15.0 inches Dec 17-20, 1929<br />8. 14.9 inches Jan 30, 1939<br />9. 14.9 inches Jan 6-7, 1918<br />10. 14.3 inches Mar 25-26, 1970</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s single <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/chi-chicagodays-1967blizzard-story,0,1032940.story">biggest snowstorm</a> occurred on Jan. 26, 1967. At 5:02 a.m. it began to snow. It snowed all day and night, until 10:10 a.m. the next day, dropping 23 inches of snow in all. Looting broke out, some people were stranded overnight at work or in school, and 26 people died as a result of the storm.</p><p>(Not everything was bad about the massive snowfall. Chicago Public Library researchers said <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20040402070119/http://www.chipublib.org/004chicago/disasters/snowstorms.html">some of the 75 million tons of snow that fell that year made its way to &quot;as a present to Florida children who had never seen snow before.&quot;</a>)</p><p>Cold temperatures and periodic snow continued for the next ten days, aggravating attempts to cleanup after the storm and get city services back to normal. All that was made a bit more shocking by the fact that just two days before the storm, the temperature had reached a record 65 degrees.</p><p><strong><a name="grey"></a>Grey skies: The not-so-fluffy stuff</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jon%20Pekelnicky.jpg" style="float: left; height: 278px; width: 370px;" title="On average, Chicago gets sunshine 54 percent of the time. This is not one of those times. (Flickr/Jon Pekelnicky)" />Chicagoan Frank Wachowski <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-08-09/news/ct-met-weather-watcher-frank-20110809_1_national-weather-service-chicago-weather-weather-page">has catalogued the city&#39;s weather data for decades</a>, compiling its longest continuous volume of meteorological data. One thing he keeps track of is the amount of sunlight that shines each day.</p><p>Of the years tracked in Wachowski&rsquo;s records, 1992 had the most winter days (November through February) with no sunshine &mdash; 46 of those 121 days registered zero percent on Wachowski&rsquo;s sunshine recorder. Of the 25 gloomiest years using this measure, only five have occurred since 1990.</p><p>On average, Chicago only gets sunshine 54 percent of the time. That annual average has stayed about the same for 30 years, Wachowski said.</p><p>In the winter, it&rsquo;s even grayer. Winter months typically get sunshine less than 44 percent of the time. In November 1985, the sun only shined on average 16 percent of the time.</p><p>That&rsquo;s not surprising to people with Seasonal Affective Disorder, like <a href="http://arlenemalinowski.com/not_normal.htm">Arlene Malinowski</a>. SAD, as it&rsquo;s known by its acronym, afflicts about six percent of Americans. Malinowski&rsquo;s an actor and playwright who <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arlene-malinowski-phd/seasonal-affective-disorder_b_4551574.html">has written about</a> the depression that sets in during long, gray winters.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re tired all the time, there is this decreased energy, a real lack of focus and productivity. It is more than just, &ldquo;oh blah I&rsquo;m having a bad day&rdquo; &mdash; it is a deep, deep sadness and emptiness,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Last week I looked out the window and the streetlights were on at 11 o&rsquo;clock in the morning, and I thought, &lsquo;This is not right.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>But there&rsquo;s a light at the end of the tunnel, literally. A lightbox can simulate sunlight indoors &mdash; a therapy Malinowski recommends along with walks or vacations, if you can take them.</p><p><strong><a name="city"></a>Municipal response: City Hall on the case</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-warming-centers-options-and-limits-109470">If you can stay warm and indoors during cold snaps and snowstorms</a>, even extreme weather itself doesn&rsquo;t throw off your schedule for more than a day or two. But when city services grind to a halt, the agony of a winter storm can go on for much longer.</p><p>When 20.3 inches of snow fell on Chicago Jan. 13-14, 1979, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/best-game-town/great-lsd-gridlock-blizzard-1979-redux">it snarled both city streets and Mayor Michael Bilandic&rsquo;s reelection ambitions</a>.Jane Byrne went on to win the municipal election less than two months later, <a href="http://www.npr.org/2010/12/30/132478152/Political-Lessons-From-Old-Chicago-Blizzard-Still-Linger">and the politics of snow would become associated with her term forever</a>.</p><p>New CTA lines running in expressway medians choked on all the de-icing salt. Unlike previous storms, the 1979 blizzard saw massive closures of rapid transit lines, in addition to buses, cars and flights.</p><p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvFwjhpkjL0">WBBM Channel 2 News did a Special Report</a> on the city&rsquo;s response during that storm&rsquo;s aftermath. In his intro to the segment, newsman Bill Kurtis described a scene that may sound familiar to those who have weathered more recent blizzards:</p><p>&ldquo;Side streets still unpassable. Public transportation snarled. Expressways buried. O&rsquo;Hare Airport closed for one of the few times in its history. This is turning out to be Chicago&rsquo;s winter of discontent, alright.&rdquo;</p><p>About O&rsquo;Hare closing &mdash; Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Karen Pride said while they always have staff on hand to maintain the airport, winter weather has temporarily knocked out all available runways on several occasions. There were &ldquo;nearly half a dozen&rdquo; such occasions in the 1970s and 80s, Pride said, but that hasn&#39;t happened since.</p><p>Another major blizzard struck the Midwest in 1999, dropping <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/extremes/1999/january/blizzard99.html">22 inches of snow on Chicago</a> before temperatures plummeted to -20 degrees or lower in parts of Illinois on January 3 and 4. The National Weather Service ranked it as the second worst blizzard of the 20th century, behind only the blizzard of 1967.</p><p>Later that month in 1999, President Bill Clinton declared a disaster area in half of Illinois&rsquo; counties. Areas of Indiana were also declared disaster areas. The Midwest storm caught Detroit off guard but, <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/extremes/1999/january/blizzard99.html">according to Stanley A. Changnon of the NCDC</a>, &ldquo;Chicago was prepared. The city put 850 snow removal trucks on the streets (240 is the normal number for heavy snow).&rdquo;</p><p>The 1999 storm was slightly larger than the one in 1979, at least in terms of snowfall, but it doesn&rsquo;t carry the weight of a mayor&rsquo;s political career. It did, however, set some records. Lake Shore Drive was shut down altogether for the first time in history, and Interstate 65 in Northwest Indiana was also closed. Chicago Public Schools extended winter break by two days. By Jan. 9, one week after the storm, <a href="http://www.examiner.com/article/chicago-s-11th-year-anniversary-of-the-1999-new-years-snowstorm">only about half of Chicago students were back in class</a>.</p><p>Our most recent massive snowstorm &mdash; the 20.2-inch blizzard of 2011, responsible for the city&rsquo;s third highest snowfall on record &mdash; shares some things with its 1999 predecessor. <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/03/us-weather-chicago-idUSTRE71180W20110203">Chicago Public Schools were again closed</a>, for the first time since 1999, and cars were once again stranded on Lake Shore Drive.</p><p><strong>Climate change</strong></p><p>In terms of cold and snow, generally speaking, the trend is toward milder winters. How much milder Chicago&rsquo;s winters will become, and how quickly that will happen, is difficult to pinpoint.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/GILL%20COLD%20WEB.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Despite what this photo implies, Chicago winters are getting milder, generally. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" />&ldquo;This pattern we have been seeing &mdash; especially since the late 70s &mdash; is just this pattern of fewer days below zero, less snowfall and just overall some warmer conditions when you look at the average temperatures,&rdquo; said State Climatologist Jim Angel. &ldquo;And that kind of makes this one seem even more dramatic, I think, because we&rsquo;re not used to this kind of weather.&rdquo;</p><p>Climate change is <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/23/science/earth/23adaptation.html?pagewanted=all">making the baseline Chicago winter more mild</a> but, perversely, it might also make extreme bouts of cold more common. While the overall trend is toward warmer temperatures, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/10/white-house-climate-change-polar-vortex-google-hangout">some scientists think the off-kilter &quot;polar vortex&quot; that caused early 2014&#39;s frigid temperatures</a> could drift down from the Arctic more often due to climatic variations. If that proves true, future winters could paradoxically be milder, but more prone to bouts of extreme cold thanks to <a href="http://www.climate.gov/news-features/event-tracker/how-polar-vortex-related-arctic-oscillation">an unruly &quot;Arctic Oscillation.&quot;</a> (<a href="http://www.skepticalscience.com/pliocene-snapshot.html">It&rsquo;s been millions of years</a> since we&rsquo;ve had as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as we do now, so we may see some strange or seemingly paradoxical climate and weather effects &mdash; <a href="http://www.northeastern.edu/news/2012/03/globalweirding/">some people even prefer the term &quot;global weirding&quot;</a> to describe the unexpected results of climate change.)</p><p>As we continue to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, scientists expect the average global temperature to increase. <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2013/13">Last year was warmer and wetter than average for the contiguous U.S.</a>, NOAA said in January &mdash; a finding consistent with climate change.</p><p><strong>A silver lining?</strong></p><p>Ultimately agony is a matter of perspective when it come to winter weather.</p><p>Tim Gibbons of TSI Snow said it&rsquo;s important to remember the good times. The 54-year-old has been around for some mighty winters, but has only fond memories of the blustery late 1970s.</p><p>&ldquo;We would skate on frozen parks outside pretty much from Christmas to Valentine&rsquo;s Day, nonstop. They didn&rsquo;t plow the side streets at all back then,&rdquo; Gibbons said. &ldquo;We would skitch &mdash; or hang on the bumper of moving cars &mdash; for entertainment, to get places. It was really quite an interesting means of transportation.&rdquo;</p><p>Now that he&rsquo;s older, he admits business can be stressful during extreme winters. But he said that&rsquo;s not the whole story. His advice? People should help each other shovel out their cars (he&rsquo;s no fan of dibs), and remember that even the coldest winter&rsquo;s only temporary.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s time we all take a deep breath, count our blessings, soldier on in the true &lsquo;I will&rsquo; spirit of Chicago,&rdquo; Gibbons said. &ldquo;Hearty people live in Chicago. We get through our winters and we celebrate our summers as a result.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://cabentley.com/">Chris Bentley</a> is a reporter for Curious City. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley">@Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 05 Feb 2014 07:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/just-how-bad-chicago-winter-109637 Gulp! How Chicago gobbled its neighbors http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583 <p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: There&#39;s plenty going on in this post: We&#39;re answering a question (partly through <a href="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/CityLimits/cityLimitsGIF.html" target="_blank">an animated GIF</a>!), but we&#39;re also letting you know we&#39;re not done! A previous version of this post asked you to pick which city&#39;s story of resistance to Chicago annexation we should tell next: Blue Island, Oak Park or Evanston. Almost 2,700 of you made your voices heard! The <a href="https://docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/forms/d/1hZ7pRixGl5BicB0a6JZQ7Iz94ZRrx9cTcgxD3Wn8GQQ/viewanalytics#start=publishanalytics" target="_blank">results</a>? Let&#39;s just say we&#39;re looking forward to revisiting our short interview with Blue Island Mayor Domingo Vargas, who told our producers that he considers the suburb to be &quot;the center of the universe.&quot; You can hear Vargas and other suburban officials make their case in our <a href="https://soundcloud.com/curiouscity/smackdowns-lake-michigan?in=curiouscity/sets/curious-city-podcasts" target="_blank">&quot;Smackdowns&quot;</a> podcast episode.&nbsp;</em></p><p>At its start, Chicago was a marshy outpost of hearty settlers who used the convergence of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River to their benefit.</p><p>Now the city spans approximately 237 square miles. Many of its nearly <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/about/facts.html" target="_blank">2.7 million residents</a> live far enough from both the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/have-your-say-lake-michigan-vs-chicago-river-109317" target="_blank">lake and river</a> that the economic drivers and geographic anchors are out of sight, out of mind.</p><p>Curious Citizen Jim Padden grew up in <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/sweet-spot-top-chicago-107897" target="_blank">Beverly</a> &mdash; one of the far flung neighborhoods in the southwestern corner of Chicago. He always wondered why his community was part of the city when others closer to the Loop (such as west suburban Oak Park) maintained their independence.</p><p>So he asked this question about Chicago&rsquo;s borders:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What were the original city limits? How did it grow over time as it annexed the neighborhoods we know today?</em></p><p>Chicago swallowed up neighboring towns and villages at a breakneck pace early in its history. Some, like Hyde Park Township, kept remnants of their old names as neighborhood names. Others, like Oak Park, fought tooth and nail to maintain their autonomy.</p><p>The squiggly city borders we know today are the result of hundreds of elections, in which residents faced the same choice: Do you want to be a Chicagoan?</p><p><strong>From marsh to metropolis</strong></p><p>When Chicago was incorporated as a town in 1835, there wasn&#39;t much municipal government in the area; in fact, there wasn&rsquo;t much government at all.</p><p><a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CC_citylimits_inline.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CC_citylimits_inline.jpg" style="height: 427px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum" /></a></p><p>But Chicago&rsquo;s borders soon expanded for the same reason they do elsewhere: money and politics. After all, if you wanted to know who you could collect tax dollars from, you had to know who lived in the city and who didn&#39;t. Maps at the Chicago History Museum show that in 1837, city borders were:</p><ul><li>Lake Michigan to the east</li><li>North Avenue to the north</li><li>22nd Street to the south</li><li>Wood Street to the west</li></ul><p>In the <a href="http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-great-fire-destroys-much-of-chicago" target="_blank">Great Fire of 1871</a>, much of the city was destroyed. The most significant annexation in Chicago history came almost two decades later, in 1889.</p><p>That&#39;s when Hyde Park, Lake View and Jefferson and Lake townships became part of Chicago. The annexations were the result of an election and <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/53.html" target="_blank">added 125 miles and 225,000 people to the city</a>, making it the nation&rsquo;s largest city by square mileage at the time.</p><p>(The land in Hyde Park would become home to the city&rsquo;s marquee event, the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/your-ticket-white-city-108994" target="_blank">World&#39;s Fair: Columbian Exposition</a>, just a few years later in 1893.)</p><p>Other annexations didn&#39;t change the population of Chicago as dramatically, but many were contentious for the residents involved. The city&rsquo;s longstanding reputation as a haven for sin fueled efforts by some townships to stay autonomous (and dry).</p><p>But others agreed to join, being wooed by the city&rsquo;s municipal services. The city&rsquo;s public schools system was a draw. Its superior water, sewer, electric, and roadway services were attractive too.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Explore: </strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583#scribd">Archival news coverage of the 1899 annexation of the Austin neighborhood on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side</a></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;Those four townships that voted wholesale to come in in 1889, they were looking at Chicago and the municipality as really a way out of a lot of problems,&rdquo; said Chicago History Museum historian Peter Alter. &ldquo;No longer were things like sewers and power seen as luxuries that you could offer to the rich; they were seen as necessities.&rdquo;</p><p>The paradigm began to shift away from annexation as the city could no longer afford to swell and the last major annexation &mdash; the land for <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/924.html" target="_blank">O&#39;Hare International Airport &mdash;</a> was more of a grab for land than individual taxpayers in 1956.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the reasons annexation stops [...] in the early 1900s is because the city really doesn&rsquo;t want to annex any more territory,&rdquo; said Chicago historian Ann Keating, who wrote <em>Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs: A Historical Guide</em> and co-edited <em>The Encyclopedia of Chicago</em>. &ldquo;Our vision is suburban communities wouldn&rsquo;t want to join in to the city, but the fact of the matter is the city kind of hits a point where they can no longer extend services.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, some suburban communities remained adamant about their independence.<a name="scribd"></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/tbobeda">Tricia Bobeda</a> is a producer on WBEZ&#39;s digital team and co-host of the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/podcasts">Nerdette Podcast</a>. Follow her on <a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda">Twitter</a>. <a href="https://twitter.com/alyssaedes" target="_blank">Alyssa Edes</a> was a WBEZ web intern this fall.</em></p><p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"><a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/189269972/Austin-s-annexation-into-Chicago" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View Austin's annexation into Chicago on Scribd">Archival news coverage of Austin&#39;s annexation into Chicago</a></p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="0.195789016713697" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="800" id="doc_66250" scrolling="no" src="//www.scribd.com/embeds/189269972/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-f588hiqpv1x2j5sf16w&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="600"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 27 Jan 2014 15:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583 Child-abuse, neglect deaths in Illinois remain high in DCFS-involved cases http://www.wbez.org/news/child-abuse-neglect-deaths-illinois-remain-high-dcfs-involved-cases-109545 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/WATCHDOGS-CST-012014-002_43704273-b_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Enoch A. Hayslett brought his 1-month-old son to a hospital emergency room in December 2008, saying the baby was constipated.</p><p>Instead, doctors found the infant had a broken femur &mdash; an injury Hayslett and the child&rsquo;s mother couldn&rsquo;t explain. So the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services took protective custody of the baby and his two older siblings, and a Cook County judge ordered that all three children be placed in foster care.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Also read:&nbsp;<a href="http://voices.suntimes.com/news/child-abuse-neglect-deaths-in-illinois-remain-high-in-dcfs-involved-cases/NEED%20A%20LINK">DCFS-involved abuse and neglect deaths: 61 children, 61 stories</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>Hayslett and their mother went on to have more children: a daughter, another son, then twin boys &mdash; all of whom lived with the couple in the south suburbs as they sought to regain custody of the three older children.</p><p>During that time, DCFS twice investigated complaints that Hayslett was abusing his children but found the allegations not credible, records show.</p><p>Then &mdash; a month after a child-protection investigator closed the second case &mdash; the 5-foot-10, 280-pound Hayslett was charged with beating one of his twin sons to death. The 20-pound boy&rsquo;s skull was fractured, and he had multiple bruises.</p><p>Authorities said Hayslett also abused the other twin and their toddler brother, too.</p><p>They arrested the Lynwood man in December 2012 and charged him with first-degree murder, among other charges.</p><p>Last Father&rsquo;s Day, Hayslett hanged himself at the Cook County Jail.</p><p>His 8-month-old son Lamar Hayslett was among 27 Illinois children to die from abuse or neglect in DCFS&rsquo; last reporting year after they or their families already had been involved with the agency, a <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em> and WBEZ examination of newly released records from the DCFS inspector general&#39;s office has found. Five more cases were under investigation, those records show.</p><p>On Wednesday, the head of child-death investigations for DCFS Inspector General Denise Kane said that one of those five pending cases has now been determined not to have involved abuse or neglect. A second case remains under investigation, but not for abuse or neglect.</p><p>Still, the number of DCFS-involved abuse or neglect deaths could reach 30 for the third year in a row.</p><p>In the 2010 reporting year, there were 15 abuse or neglect deaths in which DCFS had had some involvement with the family within a year of the death, according to a <em>Sun-Times</em> and WBEZ investigation published in November.</p><p><em>Chris Fusco is a </em>Chicago Sun-Times<em> staff reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/fuscochris">@fuscochris</a>.&nbsp;Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p><script src='//player.ooyala.com/v3/38f013a07e0458db1ee84d020e47cac'></script><div id="ooyalaplayer" style="width:620px;height:348px">&nbsp;</div><script>OO.ready(function() { OO.Player.create('ooyalaplayer', 'twaTQ3azo4VLlw3BvtNWWpWwpcodGHp8'); });</script><noscript><div>Please enable Javascript to watch this video</div></noscript><p>The spike in deaths to 34 in 2011, 34 in 2012 and 27 or more in 2013 has sounded alarms with state lawmakers and some child advocates, who say the agency and the private contractors it hires to monitor child safety aren&rsquo;t doing the job they should.</p><p>DCFS officials dispute that. They say the increase in reported deaths is largely the result of a policy change in late 2011, when the agency started pressing its investigators to discipline parents whose children had died as a result of unsafe sleeping conditions.</p><p>Still, in response to the Sun-Times/WBEZ reports, DCFS&rsquo; acting director, Denise Gonzales, ordered a review of all child deaths resulting from abuse or neglect between 2009 and 2013. That review revealed errors in the department&rsquo;s tracking of how many children statewide died from abuse or neglect, finding that 11 more children had died in that time than the agency had reported.</p><p>Of the 27 DCFS-involved abuse or neglect deaths reported for the 12 months ending June 30, 2013, 12 were caused by abuse and 15 by neglect, according to the Sun-Times/WBEZ examination of DCFS inspector general records.</p><p>Of the neglect deaths, 11 involved infants smothered or suffocated after being placed in dangerous sleeping conditions.</p><p>In many of those cases, the children died even though their caregivers had been trained on safe-sleep practices, records show. They included a 3-month-old girl who died after sleeping on a mattress with her father, who &ldquo;tested positive for cocaine, marijuana and prescribed benzodiazepines,&rdquo; according to the inspector general&rsquo;s case summary. A caseworker had provided the mother with a Pack &rsquo;n Play portable crib and saw the baby with the mother in August and October 2012. The baby died the following month.</p><p><strong>Among the 12 abuse deaths:</strong></p><p>● A 14-year-old autistic boy, Alex Spourdalakis, of River Grove, was found stabbed to death in his bed in June 2013. His 50-year-old mother and 44-year-old live-in caretaker lay unconscious next to him, &ldquo;having taken pills&rdquo; and &ldquo;leaving a letter explaining their actions.&rdquo; DCFS had opened a neglect investigation into his mother six months earlier but found the allegations not credible. The mother and caretaker survived and are now charged with murder.</p><p>● A 5-month-old girl, Angelina Rodriguez, of Chicago&rsquo;s Far North Side, died in April 2013, four days after being hospitalized with a skull fracture and severe brain swelling. Her parents both were charged with murder after her father admitted suffocating her. Three months before Angelina died, school officials called DCFS&rsquo; hotline to report her 6-year-old brother had &ldquo;marks and bruises on his face, neck and arms and after getting sick, he expressed fear of going home early.&rdquo; DCFS cleared the parents of wrongdoing because the child later told an investigator the marks were made by his 2-year-old brother.</p><p>● In a case of the death of a child whose teenage mother had been an abuse victim, 3-week-old Emonie Beasley-Brown was killed in August 2012 when her mother ran away from her South Side home, taking the baby to her boyfriend&rsquo;s house. When the police showed up, the mother hid in a crawlspace with the baby and her boyfriend&rsquo;s mother, who placed her hands over Emonie&rsquo;s mouth to keep her from crying. Emonie died two days later as a result of suffocation. Emonie&rsquo;s teenage mother was convicted of endangering the life and health of a child and sentenced to five years of probation. Her boyfriend&rsquo;s mother was convicted of the same charge and sentenced to four years in prison.</p><p>In January 2012, DCFS had determined that Emonie&rsquo;s mother had been abused earlier that month by her 17-year-old brother, who was a ward of the state.</p><p>DCFS officials point out that they have some level of involvement with about 60,000 families a year. And other child-welfare experts caution the agency shouldn&rsquo;t be judged solely on the fraction of children who die while they or their families are being monitored or under investigation by the agency.</p><p>Still, acting DCFS chief Gonzales says she&rsquo;s convened &ldquo;a team to read every case and tell me what happened. . . . What were the conditions that brought us to that child&rsquo;s death? Was there substance abuse involved? Was there domestic violence involved? Was this just a tired mom with her infant?&rdquo;</p><p>In the case of Lamar Hayslett, Cook County Public Guardian Robert Harris says there were &ldquo;missed opportunities&rdquo; to stop the abuse. Besides the two abuse investigations against Enoch Hayslett that DCFS closed without finding wrongdoing, a Cook County judge was told in August 2011 of allegations that Hayslett had abused the three older children in foster care.</p><p>The judge left it to a private agency, Lutheran Social Services, to determine whether the parents should continue to have unsupervised visits with those kids. Those visits were temporarily suspended and then resumed, leading to more allegations from one of Hayslett&rsquo;s children that he was abusing them &mdash; complaints DCFS deemed not credible the month before Lamar died.</p><p>A DCFS spokeswoman says agency Inspector General Denise Kane &ldquo;is conducting a full investigation of this case&rdquo; and that officials &ldquo;cannot comment further pending that review.&rdquo;</p><p>Says Harris: &ldquo;The fact that there was a hotline call that was made just three months before Lamar died, in and of itself, which subsequently was &lsquo;unfounded&rsquo; a month before he died, is definitely troubling to me, and I question some of the investigator&rsquo;s work in terms of responding to the hotline call.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t just want to say &lsquo;If the caseworkers were doing their jobs.&rsquo; But if they had kept their eyes open to all of these multiple factors, maybe there could have been &mdash; maybe Lamar wouldn&rsquo;t have had to have died.&rdquo;</p></p> Mon, 20 Jan 2014 01:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/child-abuse-neglect-deaths-illinois-remain-high-dcfs-involved-cases-109545 DuPage County tries to keep drug users out of jail http://www.wbez.org/news/dupage-county-tries-keep-drug-users-out-jail-109407 <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/LEAD1.jpg" title="Legislators attend a summit on heroin, this time at Elmhurst College (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /></div><p>Prescription painkillers are often a pathway to heroin. A <a href="http://www.samhsa.gov/newsroom/advisories/1308215815.aspx" target="_blank">recent federal report</a> found that four out of five new heroin users had previously used illicit pain pills.</p><p>That&#39;s how Nick Gore got hooked.</p><p>Gore said his childhood in suburban Bartlett -- 35 miles west of Chicago -- was normal. But in his early 20s, Gore developed a boulder-sized kidney stone that required multiple surgeries. And prescriptions to deal with the pain.</p><p>After a couple stints in detox -- and a couple in jail -- Gore took his first trip to rehab where he met a woman, a heroin addict.&nbsp; Soon, they started to date; he&nbsp;took her to a concert downtown and before he knew it, they were on the West Side of Chicago.<br /><br />&quot;We got off at Cicero and before I knew it, we not only bought our first bag of dope but we were snorting it,&rdquo; Gore recalled. &quot;It made me so sick, just throwing up. And I was itchy and disgusted but I got that warm feeling, like I was invincible...that euphoria that they talk about. And I wasn&#39;t addicted the first time I did heroin -- but I was hooked. It just hooked me.&rdquo;</p><p>Soon, the nice hockey star from Bartlett was a twice-convicted felon. Gore stole to feed his habit, to continue chasing that first high. But he said he didn&#39;t feel much of anything -- just sick, cycling in and out of withdrawal -- until his second trip to rehab.</p><p>For the first time in his life, Gore said he started to feel things.</p><p>&quot;I was being honest and it killed me, I was being honest about all the stupid shit I did and it killed me. Brought a lot more chaos into my life than into anyone else&#39;s because I took a butcher knife and decided to cut my Achilles tendon cause I just needed to feel something,&rdquo; Gore said.</p><p>Now two years into his recovery, Gore doesn&#39;t want to see anyone else get caught up in the heroin cycle. He said he&#39;d consider it a win if he can stop one person from trying heroin. So he shares his story at heroin summits in the western suburbs.&nbsp;</p><p>DuPage County Coroner <a href="http://www.dupageco.org/coroner/">Dr. Richard Jorgensen</a> said the fight to stop the spread of heroin use has been a losing battle for much of the community. Forty-three people have died so far this year as a result of heroin, and Jorgensen said there are at least three other suspected cases, pending toxicology reports.&nbsp;</p><p>Jorgensen analyzed the last two years of heroin-related deaths -- the period when the numbers jumped well above the annual average. In 2012, there were 38 deaths, a dozen more than the previous five years. Jorgensen looked for a pattern, an explanation, perhaps a hot spot.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;There&#39;s not one town or one city that predominates the statistics, we don&#39;t have one area or one socioeconomic group that predominates. It&#39;s not the poor kids from here or the rich kids from there it&#39;s really all over DuPage County,&rdquo; Jorgensen said.</div><p>Jorgensen said if heroin users don&#39;t end up in the morgue, they will probably end up across the street with DuPage County State&#39;s Attorney <a href="http://www.dupageco.org/statesattorney/">Bob Berlin</a>. That&#39;s why the two teamed up to spread awareness. They hold forums anywhere they&#39;re welcome: at schools, at local hospitals and community centers.</p><p>But Berlin said that getting people to show up and listen has been a struggle.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re dealing with the &lsquo;not my kid syndrome.&#39; Many parents unfortunately hear about heroin and they take the position &lsquo;Well geeze, it&#39;s not my kid, I don&#39;t have to worry about this.&#39; And we&#39;re trying to tell them it may not be your kid today but that doesn&#39;t mean it that it might not happen tomorrow,&rdquo; Berlin said.</p><p>Berlin said he isn&#39;t interested in sending addicts to jail.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ODawarenesst-shirt.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Hundreds of people turned out for this Overdose Awareness rally in August. (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /></div><p>&quot;Someone who&#39;s an addict, they&#39;re stealing money to support their habit, putting them in prison for a year or two years where they&#39;ll serve half the time and get out doesn&#39;t really solve the problem because they continue to do the same things if you don&#39;t treat the drug addiction,&rdquo; Berlin said.</p><p>Non-violent defendants are still prosecuted for a felony but they&#39;re not incarcerated. They get counseling and regular drug tests. And if they complete the program, they&#39;re less likely to reappear in the criminal justice system. <a href="http://www.dupageco.org/courts/drug_court/2215/">DuPage County&#39;s drug court</a> is one of the most successful programs of its kind in the area. The typical rate of recidivism for felons is about 30 percent within three years. For drug court grads, it&#39;s eight percent.</p><p>But when it comes to drug dealers in DuPage County, the state&#39;s attorney takes a hardline approach. There is no drug court and no breaks.</p><p>&quot;We are aggressively prosecuting those people that peddle the poison in our community,&rdquo; Berlin said.</p><p>To Berlin, there is a clear, black-and-white difference between a user and a seller; but to Roosevelt University drug policy researcher <a href="http://www.roosevelt.edu/CAS/CentersAndInstitutes/IMA/Leadership.aspx">Kathie Kane-Willis</a> it&#39;s gray and problematic.</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/KKW.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Kathie Kane-Willis speaks at an Overdose Awareness Rally in August at Roosevelt University's Schaumburg campus." /></div><p>Oftentimes, she said, both are heroin dependent and both will engage in acquisitive crimes that enable them to buy drugs. And to avoid withdrawal. Kane-Willis hasn&#39;t just researched this issue, she lived it as a former heroin user.</p><p>&quot;There were many times that I was delivering drugs because I was the one who had the time to cop drugs and so I would buy them and people would give me money, and I would give them the drugs; that&#39;s distribution, that&#39;s a sales offense. So was I a drug seller when I did that or was I a drug user or was I both? I was drug dependent,&quot; Kane-Willis said.</p><p>She said law enforcement is sending dependents mixed messages. On the one hand, they&#39;ll say it&#39;s not a problem that society can arrest its way out of. On the other hand, anyone caught selling drugs can expect a stiff penalty and some jail time.</p><p>The potential punishment can be especially harsh for anyone found to have supplied a fatal dose of heroin. In DuPage County, the charge is drug-induced homicide, a Class-X felony that carries up to 30 years in prison.</p><p>DuPage County has three-such cases pending. Nineteen-year-old Nolan McMahon was charged this past summer in the death of a 15-year-old Bartlett High School student. McMahon is accused of delivering the heroin that the other teen ingested before overdosing in his parents&#39; home.</p><p>Dealers bear responsibility in these deaths, according to Berlin.</p><p>&quot;The drug dealers know how dangerous these drugs are and how strong they are&hellip;and they need to be held accountable for what happens when people use these drugs and die, it&#39;s that simple. And that&#39;s the risk that they take,&quot; Berlin said.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/pie%20heroin.PNG" style="height: 256px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="" /></p><p>But Kane-Willis said there&#39;s a greater and deadlier risk associated with the charge.</p><p>&quot;I think every drug-induced homicide charge that is made sends a ripple through the using community to not call 911 and might result in somebody else&#39;s death,&rdquo; Kane-Willis said.</p><p><a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=1701&amp;GAID=11&amp;DocTypeID=SB&amp;SessionID=84&amp;GA=97">Illinois&#39;s Good Samaritan Law</a> protects anyone from prosecution for possession if that person has fewer than three grams of heroin and, in good faith, calls 911 to save the life of someone who has overdosed.</p><p>If the overdose victim cannot be revived, the law does not provide protection from a drug-induced homicide charge.</p><p>Kane-Willis said the general perception of the relationship between a user and a seller is misunderstood.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s not what people think; there&#39;s not someone lurking around the corner trying to sell you heroin...that&#39;s not what heroin use and purchasing looks like,&rdquo; she said. &quot;Generally, people are seeking it out, they&#39;re drug dependent; and to provide drugs to someone who is in withdrawal, I&#39;ll say this from my own personal point of view, is not an evil thing to do, it&#39;s an act of mercy. And so I think some of these cases, these are merciful people who are being charged with murder, and that&#39;s just wrong.&rdquo;</p><p>Kane-Willis said it&#39;s important to understand that the victim and the perpetrator are very much the same kind of people.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=z5OJBBaoBP4k.kUgUKWvKtdDs" name="dupagechart" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-12-19%20at%205.51.58%20AM.png" style="height: 327px; width: 620px;" title="Map of 2013 heroin deaths by community in DuPage County. Click to view larger map." /></a></div><p>&nbsp;</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/2012.PNG" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2013%20dupage.PNG" title="" /></div></div><p><em>Katie O&#39;Brien is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/katieobez">@katieobez</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 19 Dec 2013 11:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/dupage-county-tries-keep-drug-users-out-jail-109407 More kids died from abuse, neglect than DCFS reported, agency says http://www.wbez.org/news/more-kids-died-abuse-neglect-dcfs-reported-agency-says-109342 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP714545381369.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The number of kids who died from abuse or neglect over the past five years in Illinois is higher than the state&rsquo;s child-welfare agency has reported, according to new figures Tuesday from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.</p><p>The number of deaths in that time is 455, DCFS officials said &mdash; which is 11 more than the agency previously reported.</p><p>DCFS officials blamed errors in &ldquo;the department&rsquo;s tracking and reporting system,&rdquo; including counting as a single death cases in which more than one child died.</p><p>Acting DCFS boss Denise Gonzales ordered an audit of the death statistics on Nov. 17, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-losing-more-children-child-abuse-and-neglect-any-time-last-30-years-109155" target="_blank">after an investigation by the <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em> and WBEZ found </a>that more children are dying from abuse and neglect statewide, with a growing number of those deaths occurring despite the child-welfare system&rsquo;s involvement in investigating or monitoring the care of those children.</p><p>The department&rsquo;s new analysis &mdash; released after an Illinois Senate hearing Tuesday in downtown Chicago &mdash; concurred with the news organizations&rsquo; findings that the number of children who died within a year of having contact with the agency more than doubled in a year, from 15 in the year ending June 30, 2010, to 34 in the year ending June 30, 2011.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Interactive charts: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/more-kids-died-abuse-neglect-dcfs-reported-agency-says-109342#charts" target="_blank">Death rates from child abuse, neglect</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>But the agency disagreed that the number of DCFS-involved deaths has continued to rise, saying the child-welfare system had prior contact with 25 of the children who died in the year ending June, 30, 2012, and 27 in the year ending June 30, 2013. The <em>Sun-Times</em> and WBEZ documented 34 such deaths in 2012; death-case summaries were not available for 2013.</p><p>DCFS had never before made public such statistics, instead releasing only the total number of child abuse and neglect death cases statewide. But at Tuesday&rsquo;s hearing, Gonzales revealed those numbers have been wrong for each of the past five years.</p><p>&ldquo;Prior to the recent review, the department&rsquo;s tracking and reporting system recorded some children&rsquo;s deaths more than once when the department received more than one hotline report about a single death or when more than one perpetrator was indicated for the death,&rdquo; agency officials said. &ldquo;Meanwhile, other single hotline reports included multiple victims who were inaccurately counted as one child.&rdquo;</p><p>As a result, the total number of abuse and neglect deaths for the year ending June 30, 2013, was revised to 104, down seven from the previously reported total. There are 11 death investigations still pending for that year.</p><p>Abuse and neglect deaths in 2010, 2011 and 2012 were 8 percent higher than what the agency previously reported, though. There were 268 such deaths in those three years, compared to the 249 the agency reported.</p><p>Overall, DCFS undercounted the number of abuse and neglect deaths by 11 during the five-year period, with officials now saying the total number of deaths is 455.</p><p>Gonzales also said she has met in recent weeks with DCFS Inspector General Denise Kane, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and Chicago police Supt. Garry McCarthy about improving communication between DCFS investigators and law enforcement &mdash; an area that Kane said, in the wake of the<em> Sun-Times</em>/WBEZ reports, has been a problem. Starting next year, there will be liaisons within DCFS and the Chicago Police Department to better share information.</p><p>Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) let loose on Gonzales and her aides during the hearing.</p><p>&ldquo;Every single one of you need to resign because we are not getting the outcomes we need to protect our children,&rdquo; Hunter told them. &ldquo;I understand you have a difficult job, but you&rsquo;re doing a lot of things wrong.&rdquo;</p><p>Later, Hunter told reporters she doesn&rsquo;t buy the agency&rsquo;s argument that the increase in child abuse and neglect deaths is the result of a policy change that is holding caretakers more accountable if children die because of unsafe sleeping conditions. Such deaths often weren&rsquo;t classified as neglect until late 2011, when DCFS began pressing its investigators to discipline parents who&rsquo;d been educated about sleep safety or placed their children in unsafe sleep conditions because of alcohol or drug use.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t trust anything that they&rsquo;re saying right now,&rdquo; Hunter said.</p><p><em>A report released Tuesday by DCFS confirms a recent </em>Sun-Times<em>/WBEZ investigation revealing that the number of child deaths due to neglect or abuse has risen since 2010. Here are the numbers cited in the report:<a name="charts"></a></em></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/IdQsM/2/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/9BClr/2/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/sH20U/2/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/GMuVS/2/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Chris Fusco is a </em>Chicago Sun-Times<em> staff reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/fuscochris">@fuscochris</a>.&nbsp;Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 10 Dec 2013 16:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/more-kids-died-abuse-neglect-dcfs-reported-agency-says-109342