WBEZ | M(apps) & Data http://www.wbez.org/tags/mapps-data Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Charters might move into closed CPS schools http://www.wbez.org/news/charters-might-move-closed-cps-schools-112063 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/panorama.jpg" style="height: 219px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p><em>A LEARN charter school (right) rents space across the street from the now vacant Calhoun North school (left). Chicago Public Schools paid $67,151 in utilities for Calhoun North from Sept. 2013 to July 2014, according to data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act Request. At the same time, CPS pays LEARN $750 per student to offset rent and other facility costs. (WBEZ/Becky Vevea)</em></p><p>There are 40 school buildings <a href="http://cps.edu/Pages/schoolrepurposing.aspx">still sitting vacant</a> across Chicago since the mass closings of 2013. Just two have been sold and the rest cost Chicagoans $2 million annually to maintain.</p><p>These schools are slow to sell for a number of reasons. Many <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/school-closures-only-add-blight-some-chicago-neighborhoods-107345">aren&rsquo;t in thriving neighborhoods</a>. The buildings are old. There aren&rsquo;t a lot of obvious alternate uses.</p><p>But one big reason the empty schools continue to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/visit-shuttered-chicago-school-shows-all-that%E2%80%99s-left-behind-108419">collect dust</a> and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/vacant-schools-philadelphia-cautionary-tale-chicago-105570">fall into disrepair</a> is this: CPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-training-academy-cooperating-federal-investigation-district-111891">currently on leave</a>, made a promise that eliminated a whole group of potential buyers.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Map: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/charters-might-move-closed-cps-schools-112063#map" target="_blank">How close are charter schools to vacant CPS buildings?</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;We currently cannot sell any of the properties to a charter school,&rdquo; said Mike Nardini, the district&rsquo;s real estate agent. &ldquo;Does it limit our buyers? Only to the extent that it can&rsquo;t be a charter any more than it could be a nightclub.&rdquo;</p><p>The promise made sense at the time considering one of the main arguments for shutting down 50 schools was to downsize the district. CPS officials argued the school system was operating inefficiently with too many schools and not enough students enrolled.</p><p>But the Chicago Board of Education <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-approves-seven-new-charter-schools-109558">continues to authorize new charter schools</a>. In the past, charters often <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/mapping-10-years-school-closures">moved into closed school buildings</a>, but that upset many community people, who saw the publicly financed, privately operated charters as replacing traditional neighborhood schools.</p><p>CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said Wednesday the Board could be convinced to change its mind.</p><p>&ldquo;If a community were to determine that they do want a charter school in that closed site, then that is something that we would consider,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>McCaffrey was very careful to say officials would break the promise only if the community supports it, not because it might save money.</p><p>&ldquo;Our first consideration isn&rsquo;t the financial implication,&rdquo; he added.</p><p>But saving money is <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-cps-budget-crisis-met-20150422-story.html#page=1">the biggest problem</a> CPS has right now, and the &lsquo;no-charter&rsquo; promise complicates things. Charter schools that are in private buildings currently get $750 per student from CPS to offset rent and other maintenance costs. This is commonly known as a &ldquo;facilities reimbursement.&rdquo; &nbsp;And while these real estate deals can be complicated, the bottom line is that Chicago taxpayers end up paying extra to charter schools who are forced to rent on the private market. &nbsp;And those same taxpayers also are paying to maintain buildings the city already owns, but isn&rsquo;t using.</p><p>&ldquo;These are assets that we have in our city that are paid for typically and what we don&rsquo;t need are more vacant buildings,&rdquo; said Andrew Broy, executive director of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.</p><p>In many cases, the charters and the vacant buildings are just blocks away from one another. In Garfield Park, a LEARN charter school rents space across the street from the now vacant Calhoun North school. In Woodlawn, a University of Chicago Charter School is planning to <a href="http://hpherald.com/2015/03/09/u-of-c-planning-new-building-for-woodlawn-charter-school/">build a brand new school</a> on a plot of land right next to a CPS-owned building where it currently operates.</p><p>It all speaks to a very basic and fundamental question that no one&mdash;CPS, the mayor, city aldermen&mdash;has grappled with: Exactly how many public schools does Chicago need? And where should they be?</p><p>When asked after Wednesday&rsquo;s City Council meeting, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that&rsquo;s not his job.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s something CPS will do based on the student population, patterns of growth,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s a fair question, but not the only question. Are the schools that are open achieving educational excellence?&rdquo;</p><p>CPS is holding public hearings Thursday night on <a href="http://cps.edu/Calendar/Documents/05212015_MMAPublicHearing.pdf">new requests</a> by charter schools to move to different locations. Most have plans to move into private buildings, but at least one, <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-charter-school-closed-building-met-20150520-story.html">The Chicago Tribune reports</a>, wants to move into the closed Peabody Elementary school on the West Side. Peabody <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-school-closing-brief-met-20141022-story.html">was sold last fall</a>.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.<a name="map"></a></em></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="800" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/maps/charterbuildings" style="float: right; clear: right;" width="620"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 20 May 2015 14:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/charters-might-move-closed-cps-schools-112063 Were Chicago's public schools ever good? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/were-chicagos-public-schools-ever-good-112025 <p><p>Our questioner Julie had completely forgotten she asked this when we reached out to her. She lives in Chicago&rsquo;s North Center neighborhood and didn&rsquo;t want to say much more about herself. But here&rsquo;s what she wanted to know:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>There is reporting about how Chicago Public Schools is slowly getting better. Was there ever a time when they were <strong>good</strong>?</em></p><p>As an education reporter, I&rsquo;ve heard many versions of this question during <a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/bvevea" target="_blank">my time covering Chicago Public Schools</a>, and that&rsquo;s partly why I wanted to take a stab at answering it. But I also wanted to tackle this question because it asks us to think about our relationship with the public schools and what we expect them to do.</p><p>Measuring a school or school district&rsquo;s success or failure is no easy feat, and it&rsquo;s even harder to measure over time because the standards and metrics have changed significantly. <a href="https://ccsr.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/publications/Trends_CPS_Full_Report.pdf" target="_blank">A recent study from the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research</a> stated that &ldquo;discrepancies are due to myriad issues with publicly reported data &mdash; including changes in test content and scoring &mdash; that make year-over-year comparisons nearly impossible without complex statistical analyses.&rdquo;</p><p>Because the definition of &ldquo;good&rdquo; is subjective,<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/good-school-bad-school-how-should-we-measure-111736" target="_blank"> we solicited your help</a> in defining how to use it while reporting this story. Some of you suggested using standardized test scores, which go back decades. (Schools haven&rsquo;t used the same test over time, making comparisons difficult.) Others suggested we consider grades or safety.</p><p>Ultimately, we decided to look at when CPS did a good job preparing students for successful careers; that is: When did the district best prepare people to be productive, taxpaying citizens? Career readiness is a consistent expectation, and it&rsquo;s possible to compare one era to another.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The 1940s, a Golden Era?</span></p><p>Based on this measurement and what historians and other experts suggested, the 1940s would seem the best contender for the district&rsquo;s golden era of public education. Schools provided valuable workforce training that was needed in the local industries, like steel and iron work, retail and office or clerical jobs.</p><p>The 1940s saw the culmination of a series of unprecedented investments in public education, mostly from the federal government. The Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 funneled millions of dollars into vocational training. Chicago schools set up programs in accounting, drafting, welding, and even &ldquo;household arts.&rdquo;</p><p>After a lag during the Great Depression, the war effort and New Deal programs brought even more vocational programs. One example: In 1939, the city built <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-05/school-architecture-look-sprawling-chicago-vocational-99372">Chicago Vocational High School</a>, and quickly turned it over to the U.S. Navy to train young men in aviation mechanics. (By the late 1940s, control of the school returned to the Chicago Board of Education.)</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Another example to point to: More than a dozen local unions collaborated with and supported the programs at Washburne Trade School to train future electricians and carpenters.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/lane tech automobile dept.JPG" style="height: 389px; width: 620px;" title="New Deal programs of the 1940s brought more vocational programs to public education, like this automobile shop class at Albert Grannis Lane Manual Training High School, now named Lane Technical College Prep High School in Chicago's North Center Neighborhood. (Courtesy Chuckman's nostalgia and memorabilia website) " /></div></div><p>But Dionne Danns, an education historian at Indiana University, provides a fast reality check when it comes to assessing the era. She points out that, at the turn of the century, and into the 1940s, people did not even need a high school diploma. In fact, most people weren&rsquo;t even finishing elementary school.</p><p>&ldquo;You didn&rsquo;t have to go to school for a job,&rdquo; Danns says. &ldquo;You went to school because they wanted you to go. They were opening more schools because they wanted immigrants to go to school and learn what it meant to be American.&rdquo;</p><p>And more importantly, Danns says, the 1940s can&rsquo;t count as a golden era of public schooling because schools were not providing education to all children; African Americans, Latinos and other minority groups did not have access to the same public schools as whites.</p><p>Women were just beginning to gain access to colleges and careers. Many attended the Lucy Flower Vocational School, which offered a home economics program and some two-year programs in sewing, dressmaking and millinery (hat-making).</p><p>A <a href="http://ecommons.luc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1770&amp;context=luc_diss">study</a> out of Loyola University pegged Chicago Vocational High School enrollment in 1946 at 2,721 students. Just 204 were girls. Another all-girls school opened that year. Richards Vocational High School had an enrollment of 230 women and offered curriculum in home arts, dressmaking, beauty culture, and bookkeeping among other things.</p><p>&ldquo;We can&rsquo;t underestimate the role schools played in maintaining inequalities in society,&rdquo; Danns says.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1964%20map.jpg" style="float: right; height: 502px; width: 350px;" title="Locations of integrated and segregated elementary schools in Chicago, 1964. (Source: Board of Education)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">Better schools, more students</span></p><p>What about looking for the CPS golden era of career readiness just a bit later, perhaps sometime in the &lsquo;50s or &lsquo;60s? It&rsquo;s tempting, because the inequalities we saw in the 1940s were challenged in 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated schools are &ldquo;inherently unequal&rdquo; and therefore, unconstitutional.</p><p>By the 1960s, African Americans were enrolling in public schools that had been historically all white. And for a while, schools were integrating.</p><p>In 1964 Paul Goren (today, the Superintendent of District 65 in Evanston) was in kindergarten in the city&rsquo;s Avalon Park neighborhood. Hanging on his office wall are three class photos: one each from 1964, 1967 and 1968. In the 1964 photo, half of the smiling children are white, the other half are African American. The 1968 picture, though, shows just three white students.</p><p>Goren says that in his class of about thirty or so, those last three white children were the last three white children left in the entire school.</p><p>&ldquo;What I remember very distinctly, and again, it&rsquo;s characterized in the pictures up above, was arguments kids were making saying, &lsquo;We&rsquo;re moving!&rsquo; &lsquo;Oh, why are you moving?&rsquo; And the answer was because the schools are not good,&rdquo; Goren recalls. &ldquo;That sort of confused me, because the schools didn&rsquo;t seem to be any different than they were when they were frankly, all white.&rdquo;</p><p>That same year, an advisory panel on integration warned the Chicago Board of Education that whites were fleeing the district in mass numbers.</p><p>The board dragged its feet and did little to prevent white flight during the 1960s, but by 1970 the board started systematic attempts to integrate the schools.</p><p>It created the first generation of magnet schools, many of which are still successful today: Whitney Young, Disney, and Inter-American, among others. They were endowed with special programs and extra resources that would attract white students and African Americans. Students applied from all over the city and their names were essentially, picked out of a hat.</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/metro%20high%20school%20yearbook%201978.PNG" style="height: 457px; width: 620px;" title="Metro High School's curriculum was built on the idea of the city being a classroom, and held classes at places like the Shedd Aquarium and Second City. (Source: Metro High School yearbook, 1978)" /></div><p>Goren went to one such school, called Metro High (or, Chicago Public High School for Metropolitan Studies). Not only was it an experiment in diversity, the school had a <a href="http://www.metrohschicago.com/bonus/Cycle3catalog1973.pdf">unique curriculum</a>. Goren took classes across the city: marine biology at Shedd Aquarium, animal behavior at Lincoln Park Zoo, and public speaking at Second City.</p><p>&ldquo;For me the golden era was my time at Metro High School,&rdquo; Goren says. The school closed in 1991.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/goren.PNG" style="height: 235px; width: 275px; float: right;" title="Paul Goren, right, at Metro High School in 1975. " /></p><p>Goren says many of the kids who attended Metro and other magnet schools were propelled into good careers in law and medicine. He has several friends who are now teachers in the area, as well.</p><p>But a lot of Chicago kids weren&rsquo;t that lucky. Magnet schools became isolated islands of success, but if you didn&rsquo;t get into one, public education was a mixed bag. &nbsp;</p><p>Among other problems, inequalities persisted. Danns says when schools started to integrate, local trade unions pulled support from Washburne Trade School. An <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1986-11-27/news/8603290329_1_apprenticeship-public-schools-board">article</a> from the Chicago Tribune in 1986, mentioned that in 1963 fewer than 2 percent of apprentices at Washburne were black.</p><p>In other words, even with years of effort on the part of the district, a career-ready curriculum remained out of reach for large swaths of CPS students.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&#39;Worst in the nation&#39;</span></p><p>There are few reasons to argue that CPS was at its best in the &lsquo;80s, because (among other reasons), CPS ran into financial troubles throughout the decade. Also, between 1979 to 1987, Chicago teachers went on strike nine times. Districts started measuring achievement and looking at dropout rates, and in Chicago, things did not look great.</p><p>In 1987, then-U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett famously characterized Chicago schools as &ldquo;the worst&rdquo; in the nation. More than half of all students were dropping out of high school at the same time the value of a high school degree was increasing. Factory jobs had all but disappeared and the country was still recovering from the 1982 recession.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VC8dPdPo9Tg?rel=0&amp;controls=0&amp;showinfo=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:10px;">Above: A short video recollection from a CPS teacher about the 1980s strike. (YouTube/Chicago Teachers Union)</span></span></p><p>Susan Lofton was a teacher in the early 1990s and vividly remembers being locked out because CPS couldn&rsquo;t make payroll.</p><p>&ldquo;All of a sudden was told don&rsquo;t go to work on Monday,&rdquo; Lofton says. &ldquo;I remember going to an unemployment office where there was literally a roped off area for teachers to go be processed.&rdquo;</p><p>In 1988, the Illinois General Assembly passed the first Chicago School Reform Act, creating local school councils at each individual school. Many schools improved under this model, but others did not.</p><p>In 1995, the state gave total control of CPS to mayor Richard M. Daley. This started the last era we&rsquo;re going to consider. &nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">More success than we realize</span></p><p>I&rsquo;m going to suggest something that might surprise you. Maybe, just maybe, we&rsquo;re living in CPS&rsquo; golden era right now.</p><p>There&rsquo;s a growing body of evidence that Chicago&rsquo;s schools are improving quickly and &mdash; for certain populations of students &mdash; doing better than other districts. <em>U.S. News and World Report</em> just released its annual rankings of the nation&rsquo;s best high schools: <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/press_room/press_releases/2015/may/six-chicago-public-high-schools-among-top-ten-in-the-state--u-s-.html">Six of the top 10 in Illinois are in CPS and another three in the top 20.</a></p><p>&ldquo;When the state&rsquo;s not doing well or not making great progress, there&rsquo;s always some number of people who say, &lsquo;Well maybe that&rsquo;s just because Chicago&rsquo;s not doing well. Maybe they&rsquo;re just dragging down the rest of the state,&rsquo;&rdquo; says Robin Steans, executive director of <a href="http://www.advanceillinois.org/">Advance Illinois, a bipartisan group focused on improving the state&rsquo;s education policy</a>. &ldquo;What we found is that&rsquo;s not true. Chicago has made steady gains both academically and in terms of some critical outcomes, like graduation.&rdquo;</p><p>Steans&rsquo; group looked at scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, from 2003 to 2013 and found Chicago students grew 11 points on the 8th grade math test and 7 points on the 4th grade reading test. The state grew just 7 points and 3 points, respectively.</p><p>Advance Illinois also compiled state graduation data from 2014 to compare Chicago with other districts for certain subgroups of students. They found that Latino students enrolled in CPS are more likely to graduate high school than their counterparts in many suburban districts, including Maine Township High Schools and Evanston Township High School.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s so counterintuitive to what they think they know about Chicago that they just disregard it,&rdquo; Steans says of the data. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s been so much noise, with the teachers strike and the school closings. The political heat and noise tends to crowd out what&rsquo;s actually beneath and behind that.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://urbanedleadership.org/about-us/people/paul-zavitkovsky/" target="_blank">Paul Zavitkovsky</a>, a&nbsp;leadership coach and assessment specialist&nbsp;at the Urban Education Leadership Program at the University of Illinois - Chicago, may be able to help. In a forthcoming study, Zavitkovsky&rsquo;s findings mirror what Advance Illinois found.</p><p>&ldquo;On an apples-for-apples basis, if you compare yourself with your counterparts based on race and socioeconomic status in other parts of the state, you have a higher probability of having a better educational experience in Chicago,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>But Zavitkovsky goes further. He shared a preliminary version of the report with WBEZ that showed students in the 75th percentile for 4th grade math achievement grew 20 points between 2003 and 2013. The performance of that subgroup in the rest of the state grew only 3 points in the same amount of time.</p><p>However, he&rsquo;s not convinced CPS is in a &ldquo;golden era&rdquo; because of all this data. From Zavitkovsky&rsquo;s vantage, the real win is that we have more information than we&rsquo;ve ever had before,and that can better inform the national conversation about public schools.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re better positioned now than we&rsquo;ve ever been to know what we have to do in order to be able to get that kind of stuff into the hands and into the heads of more than just a small percentage of kids, coming primarily from the most privileged families in America,&rdquo; Zavitowsky says.</p><p>There&rsquo;s no easy way to measure job readiness and whether these improvements translate into more successful alumni. Short of picking up the phone and calling all the former students, CPS does not follow students into employment.</p><p>The closest indicator available is college persistence, and CPS also made gains in it during the last decade. A <a href="https://ccsr.uchicago.edu/publications/educational-attainment-chicago-public-schools-students-focus-four-year-college-degrees">report from the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research</a> found that between 2006 and 2014, the percentage of CPS students earning a bachelor&rsquo;s degree within 6 years of high school graduation jumped from 8 percent to 14 percent. The national rate is 18 percent.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Greater Expectations</span></p><p>I&rsquo;ve been reporting on CPS for more than four years and I&rsquo;ve covered a lot of the noise and dysfunction Steans mentioned. But I&rsquo;ve also reported on schools that are trying everything to improve.</p><p>They include schools like Senn High School in Edgewater. Susan Lofton, the teacher who remembers being in the unemployment line back in the 1990s, is now the principal at Senn. When she took over in 2010, the school had a bad name.</p><p>&ldquo;A-B-S,&rdquo; Lofton says, &ldquo;Anywhere But Senn.&rdquo;</p><p>Lofton created the Senn Arts magnet program and expanded the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/eight-forty-eight/2012-04-25/chicagos-middle-class-not-interested-hidden-gem-high-schools-98519">rigorous International Baccalaureate program</a>, which had long been a hidden gem.</p><p>She also recruited drama teacher Joel Ewing away from Walter Payton College Prep, a prestigious selective enrollment school.</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/ewing.png" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Joel Ewing teaches a drama class at Senn High School. Previously a teacher at Walter Payton College Prep, Ewing says he accepted the position at Senn because he saw a void that needed to be filled. (WBEZ/Jesse Dukes)" /></div><p>&ldquo;When I took the job at Senn Arts, I got crooked heads,&rdquo; Ewing says. &ldquo;&lsquo;Why would you leave Walter Payton? That&#39;s clearly one of the best schools, in the city, state.&rsquo; ... I thought there was a void that needed to be filled. Payton is going to be alright.&rdquo;</p><p>Senn chose to become a little like a magnet school but still focus on neighborhood students &mdash; a strategy that lots of CPS schools are trying. But Lofton says the biggest hurdle to changing Senn&rsquo;s reputation has nothing to do with academics.</p><p>&ldquo;The first day I got here, I took the Red Line,&rdquo; Lofton recalls. &ldquo;I, myself, could barely get through the station to get myself to school. There were a lot of my kids there that were just loitering because, &lsquo;Hey! We don&rsquo;t go to school on time here.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Now, she and the other administrators start every morning at the Thorndale Red Line stop, shuffling students along and calling the cops on anyone else who, as she says, had no business being there.</p><p>Senn is not alone: Schools across the city worry about safety, sometimes even before academics. It&rsquo;s a big departure from past decades.Today, we expect schools to do more than we ever have. Making the local train stop safe? Since when is that in the job description of a principal or teacher? If Lofton and Senn staff want their students to be prepared for college and careers, they don&rsquo;t really have a choice not to.</p><p>The latest trends tempt me to say that the time we&rsquo;re looking for, when CPS schools were good ... is right now. The district&rsquo;s serving more students than ever and it&rsquo;s still making incremental progress, despite the noise and dysfunction that sometimes overshadow much of it. (As an education reporter, I know I share the blame for that.)</p><p>But I&#39;m not convinced this is the golden era; there&rsquo;s a lot of work to be done and that bad stuff I report on? It does really happen.</p><p>So, even if there was never a &ldquo;golden age&rdquo; and even if the idea itself is impossible, I think we have to keep asking questions, looking at what works and what doesn&rsquo;t and never stop highlighting those who are not being served.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer and reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 13 May 2015 17:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/were-chicagos-public-schools-ever-good-112025 Uptown's moment as a 'Hillbilly Heaven' http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/uptowns-moment-hillbilly-heaven-111964 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/203187587&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Hillbilly Heaven. That was a common nickname for Chicago&rsquo;s Uptown neighborhood in the 1950s and 1960s. For about twenty years, the neighborhood, which sits between Lakeview and Rogers Park, was locally famous for being home to thousands of white Southern migrants, many of whom came from the Appalachian region. And while many migrants lived in other neighborhoods on the North Side, Uptown had the greatest concentration of Southerners and, not coincidentally, it was where the poorest members of that community lived.</p><p>The Southern influence stuck around through the &lsquo;70s, but by the &lsquo;90s, it was difficult to find many Southerners in Uptown. The history fascinated questioner Matthew Byrd, a college student originally from Chicago. Byrd is descended from Southern migrants (both of his mother&rsquo;s parents were born in West Virginia), and he grew up visiting his extended family in the South and asking his grandparents about Uptown in the &ldquo;Hillbilly Heaven&rdquo; days.</p><p>&ldquo;I always asked them why they came to Uptown &hellip; and they never gave me a definitive answer. I wanted to know why they all came to that neighborhood. &hellip; Like, why didn&rsquo;t they come to like Bridgeport or Humboldt Park. Why was it Uptown?&rdquo;</p><p>His question for Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Why did so many migrants from Appalachia end up in Chicago&#39;s Uptown neighborhood during the &#39;50s and &#39;60s? Why did so many leave?</em></p><p>With help from Byrd&rsquo;s own family, historians and others, we&rsquo;re able to provide a quick account of how the neighborhood transformed from a swank, Midwestern urban neighborhood to one where, according to sociologist Todd Gitlin: &ldquo;You&rsquo;d walk down the street [and] you&rsquo;d hear some country western song coming down the window, and as you proceeded down the street, you&rsquo;d hear the same song coming out of other windows. You heard a lot of Southern accents. You saw a lot of Southern license plates.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The Great (White) Migration</span></p><p>It doesn&rsquo;t take a great mental leap to grasp why so many white Southerners came to Chicago when they did. Like most migrant groups, they came because there were abundant jobs. While we might be more familiar with <a href="http://www.census.gov/dataviz/visualizations/020/">&ldquo;The Second Great Migration&rdquo;</a> (1940 - 1970) &nbsp;of African Americans from the South, to the North, Midwest, and West, more white migrants than black made the trek to the North after World War II.</p><p>Chad Berry, a historian at Berea College, takes up the phenomenon in <em>Southern Migrants, Northern Exiles</em>: &ldquo;Anyone familiar with the history of especially the Upland South will immediately ask not so much why southerners left their region in droves in the twentieth century, but why it took them so long to pack their bags. ...&rdquo; The Upland South, a region that includes most of Appalachia as well as places farther west such as Western Kentucky and Arkansas, had been in an economic slump since before the Civil War, and it offered few economies apart from subsistence farming and coal mining.</p><p>But before 1920, Southerners hoping to leave had few choices. Large Northern industries could largely satisfy their hunger for cheap labor by recruiting immigrants from other countries. Chicago&rsquo;s Polish, Irish, Italian, and many other European populations all have their roots in the late 19th century. But in the 1920s, the U.S., still reeling from World War I, clamped down on immigration with a series of federal laws that drastically restricted the immigrant labor pool. This meant big industry had to turn inward for cheap labor. Berry says &ldquo;They look in three places: whites, blacks, and domestic-born Latino people.&rdquo;</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;"><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_27083" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/263449521/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></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;"><span style="font-size:10px;">Above: A 1967 pamphlet for The Chicago Southern Center, an organization that helped Southern migrants adjust to urban living. (Courtesy Chicago History Museum)</span></p><p>Southern whites and blacks began to come north, but just as the migration started, the Great Depression slowed down industry so much that jobs became scarce. The migration was put on hold until 1941. &ldquo;And then during and after World War II, there&rsquo;s an amazing demand for manufacturing,&rdquo; says Berry. &ldquo;Chicago was a real magnet for workers, just as Detroit, Indianapolis and Cleveland and other countless places were in the Midwest.&rdquo;</p><p>In the late 1940s (a bit earlier than Matthew Byrd had ventured), white Southerners began travelling north again, lured by stories of abundant jobs. Roger Guy, a sociologist who interviewed Southerners in Uptown during the 1990s says &ldquo;Migrants spoke about being able to leave a job, and being able to walk across the street and get another one.&rdquo;</p><p>Southerners worked in light industrial factories such as Polaroid and Zenith. Some performed more brutal and less lucrative day labor in the steel mills. Others found work in carpentry, or in the city&rsquo;s prominent candy industry, or even as handymen or shade tree mechanics.</p><p>The jobs brought changes to the traditional order of Southern life. First off, women often performed the same work that men did. And, the Southerners now worked in the same workplaces as African Americans, Latinos, and recent European immigrants. Southern migrants who hailed from the more isolated Appalachian region had never even met Catholics or Jews before coming North.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Uptown: A neighborhood ready for migrants</span></p><p>The new arrivals needed a place to arrive within the city &mdash; a neighborhood that was near industrial work but also offered affordable rents. They found Uptown. While we don&rsquo;t know which Southern migrant first settled there, or precisely when that happened, a series of events primed Uptown as a suitable port of entry.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/uptown%20in%20the%201920s.jpg" style="float: right; height: 296px; width: 320px;" title="Uptown's Chelsea Hotel, on the left, opened in 1923 and required its first residents to rent rooms on a monthly basis to ensure no 'transients' stayed in the building. (Photo courtesy jontrott.com) " /></p><p>According to Roger Guy, Uptown in the 1920s rivaled The Loop as the premier shopping and entertainment destination in Chicago. It was the heart of Chicago&rsquo;s silent film industry, and there were several monolithic brick residential hotels where professionals could stay for weeks, months or longer, depending on their busy and shifting schedules.Young single people could live in fancy Art-Deco apartments and enjoy an active nightlife. The Uptown Theater &mdash; &nbsp;at the time, Chicago&rsquo;s second-largest entertainment venue &mdash; showed movies and stage shows, and contained a nightclub and several shops. The &ldquo;Moorish&rdquo;-looking Aragon theater featured highbrow jazz music, while the Green Mill Gardens and the Arcadia Ballroom catered to younger, wilder patrons.</p><p>The depressed economy of the 1930s saw the neighborhood change significantly. The film industry went to Hollywood, the nightlife became seedier and many of the wealthier tenants left. To save money, landlords deferred maintenance, and to keep their units profitable, they began subdividing large luxury apartments into single- and double-room units to rent to a less wealthy clientele. Many residential hotel rooms were similarly converted to small studios. By the 1950s, Uptown was full of cheap, formerly fancy apartments.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&lsquo;Hillbilly Heaven&rsquo;</span></p><p>As a port of entry, many Southerners came to Uptown because they knew somebody there, and knew they could find cheap rent. Those who could find good jobs often moved to other, quieter neighborhoods, but those who couldn&rsquo;t tended to stay in Uptown. That meant it became the locus of Southern white poverty in Chicago.</p><p>Many Southerners who lived there remember the neighborhood fondly. They enjoyed the opportunity to hear country music, or even familiar accents. But our questioner&rsquo;s grandmother, Linda Lambert, says her family was in for a shock when they arrived from West Virginia in 1965.</p><p>&ldquo;There were many Southern people,&rdquo; she says, &ldquo;but they weren&#39;t the Southern people we were used to being around. They were a little rough around the edges. If I was getting ready to go to the store, my dad would watch me walk down the block. Somebody would be whistling at me, and it was kind of upsetting.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="420" mozallowfullscreen="" scrolling="no" src="//slides.com/loganjaffe-1/deck-2/embed?token=y7n404tH" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="576"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:10px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Above: Photos of Appalachian migrants in Uptown taken by Bob Rehak, who documented the neighborhood throughout the 1970s. See his photo book: <a href="http://bobrehak.com/wordpress/uptown-portrait-of-a-chicago-neighborhood-in-the-mid-1970s-by-robert-rehak/" target="_blank"><em>Chicago&#39;s Uptown: 1973-77</em></a> for more.&nbsp;</span></span></p><p>Southerners developed a bad reputation among some Chicagoans. In the 1950s, The <em>Chicago Tribune</em> ran a series of articles about Southerners in Uptown, featuring reporter Norma Lee Browning. Although she developed a reputation as a tough investigative reporter, Browning&rsquo;s articles were loaded with stereotypes about rural Southerners. Here&rsquo;s an excerpt from the series&rsquo; first article, entitled &ldquo;<a href="http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1957/03/03/page/1/article/girl-reporter-visits-jungles-of-hillbillies" target="_blank">Girl Reporter Visits Jungles of Hillbillies</a>&rdquo;:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Authorities are reluctant to point a finger at any one segment of the population or nationality group, but they agree that the southern hillbilly migrants, who have descended on Chicago like a plague of locusts in the last few years, have the lowest standard of living and moral code [if any] of all, the biggest capacity for liquor, and the most savage and vicious tactics when drunk, which is most of the time.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Another article purported to document the newcomers&rsquo; family life: &ldquo;They get married one day, unmarried the next, and in the confusion of common law marriages many children never know who their parents are &mdash; and nobody cares.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite the apparent gross exaggerations and fabrications from the <em>Chicago Tribune</em>&rsquo;s reporting, it appears there <em>were</em> some unsavory characters in Uptown. Roger Guy explains Uptown had some of the characteristics of an oil boomtown, where young single men would work for a few weeks, and then use their wages to party.</p><p>Migrant Linda Lambert says, &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s like any other culture, you got your good and you got your bad. There was a lot of poverty. That is true. But a lot of people who lived there lived there until they could do better. It was just a stop in the road.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Displacement</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/uptown%20demolition%20area.jpg" style="height: 328px; width: 620px;" title="An evaluation of the condition of a block of housing in Uptown by the city's Department of Urban Renewal, 1967. (Flickr/Devin Hunter)" /></p><p>If some Uptown Southerners represented a rougher element, others just struggled to survive in a city that was not always hospitable. Virginia Bowers, a former resident who originally came from West Virginia, says that tenants in Uptown often had to deal with unscrupulous landlords. She had worked managing property. During interviews with Roger Guy she&rsquo;d said: &ldquo;I lost my first job as a manager in a building because I stuck up for a couple that had been bitten by a rat. The owner wanted me to lie about it. I told [the housing inspector] that I couldn&rsquo;t lie to him. I was a mother myself and I couldn&rsquo;t lie.&rdquo;</p><p>There were numerous reports of landlords cutting corners to save money. According to tenants and local activists, owners turned off the heat, electricity, or water in buildings. They deferred maintenance to save money, and harassed or evicted tenants who complained. Activists including scholar Todd Gitlin and Helen Shiller (who became the area&rsquo;s alderman in 1987) organized tenants to resist unsanitary conditions through rent strikes, public protest and other tactics. In some cases, they were able to bring about better housing conditions.</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/uptown%20apartment%20interior.jpg" style="height: 420px; width: 620px;" title="An Uptown apartment kitchen in 1967. (Flickr/Devin Hunter)" /></div><p>But even as Southerners in Uptown sought to improve housing conditions for the poor in Uptown, the city and developers had other plans. By the late 1960s, abundant jobs were scarce, and Uptown&rsquo;s reputation as a rough place with substandard housing grew worse. The city instituted a series of public works projects, including razing several square blocks to relocate Harry S. Truman City College. A group called the &ldquo;Uptown Area People&rsquo;s Planning Organization&rdquo; organized under the leadership of Chuck Geary. Geary was a migrant himself &mdash; a Korean War veteran, erstwhile hitchhiker, father of eight and a preacher. He worked with architect Rodney Wright to develop an alternative to the Truman College plan called <a href="http://www.thecyberhood.net/documents/papers/guy.pdf" target="_blank">Hank Williams Village</a>, named after the famous country singer. According to Roger Guy, the village would be a &ldquo;planned community with subsidized apartments, a pharmacy, and an employment agency.&rdquo; It was never built.</p><p>After the Truman College relocation effort won out, the area saw a series of developments. The city and developers argued urban renewal was necessary to replace substandard housing and rid Uptown of blight. Helen Shiller argues the poor in Uptown, who also included Native Americans, Japanese-American migrants, Latinos, and a handful of other groups, were seen as undesirable by the city and business community. &ldquo;The city&rsquo;s policy, in the North Side at least, was to create public works projects in specific communities where they wanted to remove people,&rdquo; she says.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/williams site from guy paper.PNG" style="float: right; height: 304px; width: 300px;" title="(Source: 'Hank Williams Village and the Legacy of Advocacy Planning' by Roger Guy)" />City officials and developers responded that they were not trying to remove anybody, but the neighborhood needed improvement, and if that meant some people were displaced, it was an unfortunate necessity.</p><p>Shiller argues that planning for Uptown could have been more inclusive, preserving housing for the poor, including white Southerners. But, she says, that didn&rsquo;t happen.</p><p>&ldquo;A handful of developers were redefining the community in real estate terms and claiming parts of it,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;They had deep pockets and built up large tracts of family housing, kicked people out wholesale, rehabbed the buildings, and tripled and even quadrupled the rent.&rdquo;</p><p>Whether or not the city and developers actively targeted poor white Southerners for removal, the evictions and rising rents seem to have driven thousands, if not tens of thousands out of Uptown, and likely out of Chicago. The way demographic data was collected makes it difficult to say, but Roger Guy feels that by the 1990s there were few signs left that Uptown had ever housed tens of thousands of Southerners. He says in 1994 and 1995, he volunteered to register voters.</p><p>&ldquo;I walked along those streets in the heart of Uptown and went in buildings knocking on doors,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t remember encountering a Southerner.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Into the fabric of Chicago</span></p><p>According to historian Chad Berry, many Southerners left Uptown on their own terms before urban renewal and gentrification ever took place. He says academics and journalists found they could document the once-high concentration of Southerners in Uptown, but it proved more difficult to document the lives of those who were successful and left the neighborhood.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Byrd%2011.jpeg" style="height: 356px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Linda Hensley Lambert and Glen Lambert, our question-asker's grandparents, who moved to Ravenswood in 1978. (Photo courtesy the Lambert family)" />&ldquo;People who did find the economic dream they were looking for, might have moved on and, when they moved on, they might have bought a little brick tiny house in the suburbs,&rdquo; Berry says. &ldquo;And on one side was a Polish-American family, on the other side was a Lithuanian-American family, and right in the middle there was a Southern or Appalachian family.&rdquo;</p><p>Matthew Byrd&rsquo;s grandparents, Glen and Linda Lambert, are among the Southerners who did well for themselves. Glen landed a job at S&amp;C Electric on his first full day in Chicago in 1969 and the couple lived north of Uptown, in Rogers Park. He worked at the company forty-three years and that stable, well-paying job (along with supplemental work from Linda) allowed them to move to a shady street in nearby Ravenswood in 1978, raise kids, and eventually retire to Kentucky.</p><p>Byrd is proud his home city provided opportunity and a better life to his grandparents and other Southerners, as it has for migrants and immigrants from countless places. But he thinks it&rsquo;s important to remember the <em>full</em> history, and believes the Chicago let down the thousands of white Southerners who were pushed out of Uptown by eviction and rising rents.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s success and there&rsquo;s failure,&rdquo; Byrd says. &ldquo;I think the failure means the next time a large group of people from another part of the country or world that&rsquo;s kind of maligned comes here, just do better by them than we did people from Appalachia or people Poland, Africa, Vietnam. Do better by them.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/question%20asker_2.jpg" style="height: 291px; width: 400px; float: left;" title="Question-asker Matthew Byrd outside of the S&amp;C Electric Company, where his grandfather worked. (WBEZ/Jesse Dukes)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">About our questioner</span></p><p>Matthew Byrd has always been close to his grandparents, Glen and Linda Lambert. He grew up visiting extended family in West Virginia whenever possible, and pumping both of his grandparents for stories of what it was like coming to Chicago. He&rsquo;s a student at the University of Iowa, and already<a href="http://littlevillagemag.com/a-community-divided-racial-segregation-on-the-rise-in-iowa-city/"> working as a journalist</a> in Iowa City.</p><p>Byrd is well aware that he&rsquo;s probably in the last generation of his family to hear his grandparents&rsquo; stories of childhoods in West Virginia, or Chicago&rsquo;s &ldquo;Hillbilly Heaven&rdquo; of the 1960s.</p><p>&ldquo;My kids aren&rsquo;t going to have the same access to memories I had,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no physical remnants. &hellip; There&rsquo;s very few. The story is going to die soon, and I just wish more people could know about it.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a name="reading"></a>Jesse Dukes is Curious City&rsquo;s audio producer. He doesn&rsquo;t tweet, but follow <a href="https://twitter.com/loganjaffe" target="_blank">@loganjaffe</a> (Curious City&rsquo;s multimedia producer) for occasional #IfJesseTweeted tweets.</em></p><hr /><p dir="ltr">Further reading on the topic of Appalachian migrants to Uptown:</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33518.Uptown_Poor_Whites_In_Chicago" target="_blank">Gitlin, Todd, and Nanci Hollander. <em>Uptown; Poor Whites in Chicago</em>. New York: Harper &amp; Row, 1970.</a></p><p><a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11036817-hillbilly-nationalists-urban-race-rebels-and-black-power?from_search=true&amp;search_version=service" target="_blank">Sonnie, Amy, and James Donald Tracy. <em>Hillbilly Nationalists Urban Race Rebels, and Black Power: The Rise of Community Organizing in America</em>. New York: Melville House, 2011..</a></p><p><a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6036088-from-diversity-to-unity?from_search=true&amp;search_version=service" target="_blank">Guy, Roger. <em>From Diversity to Unity: Southern and Appalachian Migrants in Uptown Chicago, 1950-1970</em>. Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2007.</a></p><p><a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3522944-southern-migrants-northern-exiles" target="_blank">Berry, Chad.&nbsp;<em>Southern Migrants, Northern Exiles</em>. Urbana: U of Illinois, 2000.</a></p></p> Wed, 29 Apr 2015 16:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/uptowns-moment-hillbilly-heaven-111964 Afternoon Shift: Vegan cuisine in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2015-04-28/afternoon-shift-vegan-cuisine-chicago-111956 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1439560469_e77b8fe621_z.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Flickr/Galant" /></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/203015039&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><font color="#333333" face="Arial, sans-serif"><span style="font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Chicago&#39;s best spots for vegan cuisine</span></font></p><p dir="ltr">How much do you know about Chicago&rsquo;s vegan scene? <a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/maps/veganfood/">We take a tour of Chicago&rsquo;s vegan scene, and tell you about some the city&#39;s lesser-known vegan gems</a>. Joining us to talk about the growing industry in Chicago is Karyn Calabrese, owner of Karyn&rsquo;s Raw and Karyn&rsquo;s Cooked, Marla Rose, founder of VeganMania festival and Elhamahd Bin Israeli, co-owner of Soul Vegan, which distributes fresh vegan food to eateries and stores on the South Side.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Guests:</strong></p><ul dir="ltr"><li><em><a href="http://www.karynraw.com/about-karyn">Karyn Calabrese</a> is owner of Karyn&rsquo;s Raw and Karyn&rsquo;s Cooked.</em></li><li><em><a href="http://www.marlarose.com/bio.html">Marla Rose</a> is founder of VeganMania festival.</em></li><li><em>Elhamahd Bin Israeli is co-owner of <a href="http://www.soulveganfoods.com/home">Soul Vegan</a>.</em></li></ul><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/203015337&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">State budget cuts will affect sickle cell patients</span></p><p dir="ltr">The proposed state budget cuts all funding, roughly $500,000, for the Acute Care Sickle Cell Center at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago starting July 1. It&rsquo;s the only outpatient and comprehensive care center in the Midwest focused on treating adults with sickle cell that is mainly diagnosed in African Americans.</p><p dir="ltr">The center is designed to help patients avoid lengthy emergency room visits by providing emergency pain treatment. More than 800 people were treated at the center during the last fiscal year. Joining us to discuss sickle cell anemia and the proposed budget cut to the center is Ronisha Edwards, a 22-year-old patient at the Acute Care Center, Robert Mackey III, founder and president of the Lydia Smith Sickle Cell Foundation and Dr. Michael Gowhari from the University of Illinois Hospital &amp; Health Sciences System&rsquo;s Acute Care Center.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Guests:</strong></p><ul dir="ltr"><li><em>Ronisha Edwards is a sickle cell anemia patient.</em></li><li><em><a href="https://twitter.com/mysicklefund">Robert Mackey III</a> is the founder and president of the Lydia Smith Sickle Cell Foundation.</em></li><li><em><a href="http://hospital.uillinois.edu/Find_a_Doctor/Michel_Gowhari.html">Dr. Michael Gowhari</a> is a doctor at the University of Illinois Hospital &amp; Health Sciences System&rsquo;s Acute Care Center.</em></li></ul><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/203017219&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><font color="#333333" face="Arial, sans-serif"><span style="font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Report finds U of I was wrong for rescinding Steven Salaita&#39;s job offer</span></font></p><p dir="ltr">A report from a national professors group says the University of Illinois wrongly rescinded a job offer for a professor after he made critical and profane comments about Israel on Twitter. Steven Salaita had been offered a position at the school&#39;s Champaign-Urbana campus to teach American Indian studies, but the offer was withdrawn last year.</p><p dir="ltr">The report released today by the American Association of University Professors says the school violated principles of academic freedom by withdrawing the job offer. Dr. Joerg Tiede is professor and chair of computer science at Illinois Wesleyan University and co-authored the AAUP&rsquo;s investigative report of U-of-I. He talks about the effect of this decision on the university&#39;s reputation.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong> <em><a href="https://sites.google.com/a/iwu.edu/hans-joerg-tiede/">Hans-Joerg Tiede</a> is professor and chair of computer science at Illinois Wesleyan University.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/203017121&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Balancing microbes in hospitals could reduce infection rates</span></p><p dir="ltr">More than half of infections that occur in hospitals are caused by the bacteria that live there, and that can make health care facilities a dangerous place for the people who need them most. The Hospital Microbiome Project is hoping to change that by analyzing the different elements that cause infections in hospital settings. Environmental microbiologist at Argonne National Laboratory Jack Gilbert joins us to talk about the team researching hospital bacteria.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong> <em><a href="http://www.twitter.com/gilbertjacka">Jack Gilbert</a> is an environmental microbiologist at the Argonne National Laboratory.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/203016720&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">The NFL is giving up its tax-exempt status</span></p><p dir="ltr">Two big stories in sports this afternoon. The NFL is following in Major League Baseball&rsquo;s footsteps: It&rsquo;s dropping its controversial not-for-profit tax-exempt status. After several cancellations due to the unrest in Baltimore, tomorrow&rsquo;s White Sox game against the Orioles at Camden Yards will go on. But the game is not open to the public. WBEZ&rsquo;s Cheryl Raye-Stout joins us to explain.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong> <em><a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout">Cheryl Raye-Stout</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s sports contributor.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/203017794&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Tech Shift: Analyzing the spread of viral digital content</span></p><p dir="ltr">Yesterday at the Digital Content NewFronts presentations, BuzzFeed introduced Pound, a new program that analyzes the spread of digital content across social media platforms. Justin Ellis wrote about Pound for the Nieman Journalism Lab and he joins us to talk about what it means for publishers and advertisers.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong> <em><a href="https://twitter.com/justinnxt">Justin Ellis</a> is a writer for Nieman Journalism Lab.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/203017740&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Method soap factory opens in Pullman</span></p><p dir="ltr">Tuesday marks the grand opening of the Method soap factory in the Pullman Historic District on the south side. The community has been on an economic climb in the past few years, and this is the latest boost for the once-thriving manufacturing hub. WBEZ&rsquo;s Susie An has more.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong> <em><a href="https://twitter.com/soosieon">Susie An</a> is a WBEZ reporter.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/203016930&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Method soap factory features eco-friendly design</span></p><p dir="ltr">The Method soap plant in Pullman had its grand opening today. The building has solar panels, a greenhouse and is LEED Platinum. That means it has the highest rating for energy efficiency and environmental design. Joining us to discuss this very green factory is Roger Schickedantz, an architect with William McDonough and Partners who helped design the building.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong> <em>Roger Schickedantz is an architect at <a href="http://www.mcdonoughpartners.com/">William McDonough and Partners</a>.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/202892253&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><font color="#333333" face="Arial, sans-serif"><span style="font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Chicago school cleaning contract millions over budget</span></font></p><p dir="ltr">WBEZ has learned Chicago Public Schools is spending millions more dollars than it expected on janitorial services. The district last year decided to privatize the management of all janitors. It was a controversial decision, but CPS said it would save the district millions of dollars. Documents obtained by WBEZ now show that contract has run way over budget. WBEZ&#39;s Becky Vevea has the details.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong> <em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/bvevea">Becky Vevea</a> is a WBEZ reporter.</em></p></p> Tue, 28 Apr 2015 15:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2015-04-28/afternoon-shift-vegan-cuisine-chicago-111956 Chicago school cleaning contract millions over budget http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-school-cleaning-contract-millions-over-budget-111949 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMG_1798.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The promise of cleaner schools at a lower price has turned out to be just that -- a promise.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Chicago Public Schools&rsquo; three-year contract with Philadelphia-based Aramark to manage all school cleaning services is $22 million over budget, according to procurement and finance records obtained by WBEZ.</span></p><p dir="ltr">Aramark has billed Chicago Public Schools $86 million for the first 11 months of its three-year contract. The first year price tag was initially set at $64 million.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;That&rsquo;s pretty astonishing,&rdquo; said Dave Belanger, principal of Hanson Park Elementary in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood. &ldquo;If you have a signed contract that says &lsquo;X&rsquo; numbers of dollars, that&rsquo;s what it should be and it should be up to Aramark to absorb those other costs.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley denied the contract was over budget.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">&ldquo;No, we know we&rsquo;re saving money now,&rdquo; Cawley said. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no question about that.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">District officials said they may not end up paying some of the bills owed to Aramark. Still, records show, the payments made through the end of December that have been officially closed out total $71 million.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Cawley admitted the contract is more than the district initially thought because Aramark did not end up laying off 468 janitors, as had been planned. After complaints about cleanliness, the company </span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/aramark-cps-change-plan-cut-school-janitors-110870" target="_blank">kept 178 on the job</a> for the rest of the school year and allowed another 290 to work through the end of October. That cost $7.4 million extra, CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">CPS officials also forgot about entire buildings when they calculated the square footage of the district&rsquo;s more than 600 schools. The mistake added another $7 million, McCaffrey said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Hanson Park was one such school with missing square footage, Belanger said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">&ldquo;I know initially Aramark said they&rsquo;d be able to clean our three buildings&mdash;the branch building, the module and this main building, which is just a sprawling giant&mdash;they&rsquo;d be able to clean it with three and a half employees, which is just not realistic in any way, shape or form,&rdquo; he said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Hanson Park ended up getting six janitors for the rest of the school year.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Karen Cutler, a spokeswoman for Aramark, said the company also billed CPS for fill-in work done by Aramark janitors when the board failed to hire 100 of the 825 custodial positions it promised to provide. McCaffrey said that cost $4.5 million extra.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Both Cutler and Cawley said they still anticipate $12 million in savings in the second and third year of the contract.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">But Clarice Berry, president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, is hoping there won&rsquo;t be a second and third year.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">&ldquo;Aramark and Sodexo should pack their bags because they need to leave town,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;There is no way we&rsquo;re not going to continue to fight this.&rdquo; &nbsp; &nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Big contract, broken promises</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">CPS has had </span><a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2003-05-05/news/0305050177_1_privatizing-custodians-school-districts" target="_blank">privatized janitors</a> for <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1996-07-22/news/9607220172_1_chicago-public-schools-new-schools-schools-chief-paul-vallas" target="_blank">more than a decade</a> &ndash; but last April, the Board of Education <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/chicago-further-privatizes" target="_blank">awarded contracts</a> worth a total of $340 million to two companies&mdash;Aramark and Sodexo MAGIC&mdash;to manage all of the cleaning services at more than 600 schools. Aramark secured a three-year deal, not to exceed $260 million, according to board reports.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">At the time, Cawley said the new system would be like &ldquo;Jimmy John&rsquo;s,&quot; the sandwich chain that uses the tagline &ldquo;Freaky Fast Delivery&rdquo;. Instead of assigning a janitor to deal with an issue, principals would call a hotline and the problem would be taken care of immediately.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">&ldquo;Like, the guy is showing up before the principal hangs up the phone,&rdquo; he said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">That did not happen.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Principals <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767" target="_blank">complained of disorganization</a> and a lack of responsiveness from Aramark employees assigned to manage their schools. Many school janitors were reassigned or laid off. The annual summer cleaning blitz left many teachers and principals scrambling to re-clean classrooms and hallways ahead of the first day of school.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">The Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, the Chicago Teachers Union and the parent group Raise Your Hand surveyed their memberships and found overwhelming dissatisfaction with the level of cleanliness.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Cawley was grilled by Board of Education members shortly after the </span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767">controversy came to light</a><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767" target="_blank">.</a> He told board members there were three reasons to outsource the management of janitors to Aramark and SodexoMAGIC.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">&ldquo;Number one was to have cleaner schools,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Number two was to realize savings and number three was to actually simplify life for principals.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">At the time, Cawley admitted Aramark wasn&rsquo;t delivering on two of those, but he went on to insist the savings were there.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">&ldquo;We know we&rsquo;ve realized the savings and in fact, we&rsquo;ve already reinvested that in more student based budgeting on a per pupil basis,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But we don&rsquo;t think we&rsquo;ve been successful on getting enough schools cleaner. Nor have we been successful in making life easier for principals.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Budget documents released in August of last year claim the Aramark deal would save $18 million this school year, meaning the total cost of cleaning before the outsourcing was around $82 million. That&rsquo;s $4 million less than what CPS is now being billed for.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Cutting ties unlikely</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">In March, the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association called on the board </span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/principals-cps-end-custodial-contract-now-111735" target="_blank">to end the custodial contract</a>. The call came after 90 percent of principals surveyed by the group said their schools were still dirtier that last year.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">&ldquo;There is no negotiating with us anymore,&rdquo; CPAA&#39;s Berry said at the time. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re not listening to any more promises. We&rsquo;re not waiting anymore. You can not staff a school with 1,200 kids with two custodian workers and think it&rsquo;s going to work. Ever.&rdquo;&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr">A few weeks later, at the March Board of Education meeting, janitors with the Service Employees International Union Local 1 protested against any future layoffs outside CPS headquarters. Tom Balanoff, president of the SEIU Local 1, cautioned that Aramark should not reduce staffing any further or else schools will be dangeriously unclean.</p><p dir="ltr">That same day, CPS released the results of an independent audit, conducted by a group called Premier Facilities Solutions, that showed all but a dozen schools met the industry standard for cleanliness outlined in Aramark&rsquo;s contract.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Cawley said he is still &ldquo;very confident&rdquo; that Aramark has delivered cleaner schools at a lower price. &nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Becky Vevea is a producer and reporter for WBEZ. Follow her </span><a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the cost of fill-in work. It was $4.5 million, according to CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey.</em></p></p> Mon, 27 Apr 2015 21:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-school-cleaning-contract-millions-over-budget-111949 Method factory opens in Pullman http://www.wbez.org/news/method-factory-opens-pullman-111947 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/pullman_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The new Method soap plant marks its official grand opening Tuesday in Chicago&rsquo;s Pullman neighborhood. The community has been on an economic climb in the past few years. This is the latest boost for the once-thriving manufacturing hub on the city&rsquo;s far South Side.</p><p>Earlier this year, President Barack Obama paid a visit to Pullman to designate the neighborhood&rsquo;s factory district a national monument.</p><p>&ldquo;This site is at the heart of what would become America&rsquo;s labor movement. And as a consequence what would become America&rsquo;s middle class,&rdquo; the President said before an audience in February at Pullman.</p><p>Pullman&rsquo;s history started in the late 1800s when George Pullman founded a community centered around the manufacturing of luxury sleeping railcars. People worked at the factory and lived in nearby row houses constructed by Pullman. The site is key to the nation&rsquo;s labor movement and civil rights. One of the most powerful African-American unions got its start here, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.</p><p>But business eventually started to dwindle and all production ceased in the late 1960s.&nbsp;High unemployment rates, crime and lack of amenities became Pullman&rsquo;s image.</p><p>&ldquo;When anybody talks about Pullman, they always talk about the past. And what we&rsquo;re trying to do with our neighbors around here is try to create a future for Pullman that&rsquo;s worth talking about,&rdquo; said Adam Lowry, co-founder of Method.</p><p>The company makes eco-friendly cleaning products, like biodegradable dish soap and foaming hand wash. Method&rsquo;s new facility is located on the old Ryerson Steel site along the Bishop Ford Expressway. It&rsquo;s flanked by green space and decorated with solar panels over the parking lot. A big wind turbine is on the land.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I like seeing things like Canada geese walking around our property because, believe me a year ago, there was nothing alive on this site at all,&rdquo; said Lowry.</p><p>The $30 million facility is a Platinum LEED building, the highest certification for green construction. It uses renewable energy and 100 percent recycled plastic for its bottles. A greenhouse covers the roof. The company does this while aiming to be socially responsible by investing in an underserved urban area. That&rsquo;s why it chose to set up its first ever manufacturing plant in Pullman.</p><p>Andrea Reed is with the Greater Roseland Chamber of Commerce. It&rsquo;s provided service to both Pullman and Roseland, where the unemployment rate is high, around 20 to 25 percent. Chicago&rsquo;s is just over 6 percent. Reed says the chamber has been looking for companies like Method.</p><p>&ldquo;Currently, we have a lot of businesses that commute here. We have a slogan. &lsquo;They come for the day, get their pay and go their way,&rsquo;&rdquo; Reed said.</p><p>Method and other companies that have recently set up shop have agreed to hire mostly from within the community. They&rsquo;ve added several hundred jobs, which might not seem like much, but Reed hopes it&rsquo;ll spur hiring amongst the local small businesses.</p><p>She also thinks the national designation will make a difference.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re looking to attract 300,000 tourists each year. So people are going to be looking for nice places to eat and places to shop. And the spillage will be people coming over into our business corridor,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Community development group, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives helped bring Wal-Mart, Ross and Planet Fitness to Pullman. David Doig with CNI says it&rsquo;s serendipitous, but it&rsquo;s been years in the making.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got 200 acres here at Pullman Park, and we&rsquo;ve developed about 70 of that. So if you kind of project that out, we probably have another 8-10 years of work to do,&rdquo; Doig said.</p><p>Back at the Method plant, Roseland resident Barbara Hardaman is taking inventory of shower cleaner coming down the conveyer belt.&nbsp; Before this, she worked at her local church. It&rsquo;s only been a few months and Hardaman says she loves her job.</p><p>She thinks companies like Method will have a lasting impact on the area.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;With people having jobs, they&rsquo;re not out in the streets trying to rob people and hurt people,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Pullman is following the city&rsquo;s trend of a decreasing crime rate. The community&rsquo;s rate dropped by 14 percent in 2014 compared to the previous year. Hardaman&rsquo;s seen signs of the neighborhood moving up, and thinks people, soon, will want to move in.</p><p>&ldquo;I had two houses across the street from me that were boarded up, but now they&rsquo;re refurbishing them,&rdquo; Hardaman said.</p></p> Mon, 27 Apr 2015 15:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/method-factory-opens-pullman-111947 Changes in taxi industry leave cab owners underwater http://www.wbez.org/news/changes-taxi-industry-leave-cab-owners-underwater-111920 <p><p>If you were looking for a good return on investment in the last few years, it was hard to beat a Chicago taxi medallion. Medallions, which are city-issued licenses to operate cabs, increased in value at least fivefold between 2006 and 2013. But now after huge shifts in the industry, many owners are deep underwater on their medallion loans, and some say they&rsquo;re nearly worthless.</p><p>&ldquo;I haven&rsquo;t written a new taxi loan in well over nine months? Ten months?&rdquo; said Charlie Goodbar, an attorney and taxi fleet owner. &ldquo;The access to capital&rsquo;s disappeared.&rdquo;</p><p>Chicago limits the number of medallions to roughly 7,000. Without those metal plates affixed to the hood, a taxi cannot operate in the city. Goodbar has facilitated hundreds of medallion sales over the years. But today, would-be buyers are finding it nearly impossible to find loans to purchase medallions.</p><p>&ldquo;I probably have put together at least 20-30 percent of all transfers, at some point probably more than half,&rdquo; said Goodbar. &ldquo;And as a market-maker, and as a license broker, and as an attorney, and someone who&rsquo;s in the lending business, how in good faith can I make a market when I can&rsquo;t value the asset or value cash flow?&rdquo;</p><p>Disruption in Chicago&rsquo;s taxi industry &mdash; both from the entry of competing rideshare services, and changes to city policies affecting medallion owners &mdash; have turned the business model on its head in just two years. At one time, investing or lending in a medallion purchase was a sound business decision, because cab owners could make a good living.</p><p>&ldquo;It was a way for an immigrant family to move up the social ladder and economic ladder through the use&nbsp; of leveraged financing in the taxi industry, and a lot of hard work,&rdquo; said Goodbar.</p><p>But today, Goodbar said it&rsquo;s nearly impossible to find a bank willing to lend money for a medallion purchase, and so the avenue that many immigrants once took is increasingly closed off.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" height="233" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Taxi%20medallions%202.0.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" width="350" /></div><p>You can tell by looking at the numbers. Between 2011 and 2013, when the market was robust, an average of 30-40 medallions changed hands monthly. But starting in February of 2014, that number dropped sharply, and never recovered. In 2015, only seven medallions were transferred in the first three months.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no buyer in the market,&rdquo; said Shyam Arora, a medallion owner. &ldquo;So it&rsquo;s a piece of garbage.&rdquo;</p><div id="responsive-embed-taximedallions">&nbsp;</div><script src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-dailygraphics/dailygraphics/graphics/taximedallions/js/lib/pym.js" type="text/javascript"></script><script type="text/javascript"> jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var pymParent = new pym.Parent( 'responsive-embed-taximedallions', 'http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-dailygraphics/dailygraphics/graphics/taximedallions/child.html', {} ); }); </script><p>Arora is one of those immigrants who found success in the taxi industry. He came from India in 2002 and bought a medallion a few years later. Today, he has three. He and his son drive two of the cabs during the day, and he leases the third. At one time, he had as many as four drivers for his small fleet &mdash; but those days seem long ago.</p><p>On a recent early morning, he took one of his cabs to a city-owned site on the South Side for an annual taxi inspection.</p><p>&ldquo;This inspection process is stressful, very stressful,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>This day, he was especially nervous. The car is a 2010 Toyota Prius with a whopping 313,000 miles on it. Arora knew inspectors would be looking for even the smallest flaw to take it out of operation.</p><p>&ldquo;Yesterday I spent $200 to the mechanic and the day before yesterday I paid $100 for detailing,&rdquo; he recounted.</p><p>He also got the engine cleaned, and drove an hour out to the suburbs just to pick up a small paint marker that he could use to cover minor exterior nicks. Altogether, he estimated spending $500 to get the car in tip-top shape &mdash; about three days&rsquo; earnings.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m losing nowadays, every day, in my business,&rdquo; said Arora. Three months ago, he fell behind on his mortgage and medallion loan.</p><p>Arora explained that most of his income comes from leasing his taxis to other drivers, rather than driving his own cab. But amid a shortage of taxi drivers in Chicago, he&rsquo;s struggled to find people to use his taxis. That&rsquo;s meant his vehicles sit empty about one-third of the time, while he still foots the bill for their medallion loans, the car payments, taxi affiliation fees and other expenses.</p><p>Even when Arora does have drivers, he said it&rsquo;s gotten much more difficult for them to find passengers. He blamed rideshare companies like UberX, Lyft and Sidecar for stealing business.</p><p>&ldquo;When you don&rsquo;t get a customer for an hour, the [taxi] driver gets so frustrated, he goes to Starbucks or he goes home,&rdquo; explained Arora.</p><p>Arora would love to sell his medallions and be done with it. But he knows he won&rsquo;t find a buyer at a good price. Plus, he&rsquo;s facing the same dilemma that homeowners once did during the recent housing crisis. Many borrowed significant sums of money against their homes as housing values increased, only to find themselves underwater on those loans once the market settled.</p><p>Similarly, Arora and many other owners borrowed heavily against their medallions while they increased in value. Arora said that helped his family get through the recession.</p><p>&ldquo;Medallions were the source of feeding everybody &mdash; every expense we have,&rdquo; he explained.</p><p>But now, he owes $600,000 against his medallions, and he knows that nobody will buy them for anything close to that amount.</p><p>Arora believes his only way out may be a loan modification. Goodbar says medallion lenders have every reason to cooperate.</p><p>&ldquo;There will be shakeout in the market, the lenders will have to work with the borrowers,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;because I think the last thing a large medallion lender wants is a bunch of medallions sitting in a drawer.&rdquo;</p><p>Arora hopes that&rsquo;ll be true in his case, because he wants to stay in the taxi business.&nbsp; Otherwise, he&rsquo;s looking at filing for bankruptcy.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 19:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/changes-taxi-industry-leave-cab-owners-underwater-111920 Rauner's first 100 days: The politics of negotiating a budget http://www.wbez.org/news/rauners-first-100-days-politics-negotiating-budget-111898 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/raunersots02042015_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>During his first 100 days in office as Illinois governor, Bruce Rauner has proposed big financial cuts to Illinois universities, social services and some health care programs. We wanted to better understand the Republican politicians&rsquo; playbook when it comes to negotiations as Statehouse leaders turn their attention on spending more than $30 billion next year.</p><p>Senate Democrats have held hearings about how those cuts could affect, say, disabled citizens who rely on state aid for services. So, picture a hearing room that&rsquo;s packed full of people who have physical handicaps, parents who rely on daycare and the people who run agencies helping them.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/rauners-first-100-days-fight-between-unions-and-rauner-111909" target="_blank">The fight between Rauner and unions</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>Democrats might&rsquo;ve seen the cuts as the state government being heartless by reducing services to the people in the room. But Republican State Senator Matt Murphy saw it as part of negotiations and took the hearing to mean something else entirely. His comments caused an uneasy shift in the tone among the crowd.</p><p>&ldquo;To be perfectly clear, so everybody in this room understands why this problem hasn&rsquo;t been solved yet, (that) is because the Senate Democratic caucus wants to leverage this issue and push this debt into next year and they&rsquo;re using you as political pawns in the process,&rdquo; Murphy said to people at the hearing. &ldquo;I mean, somebody&rsquo;s got to speak the truth in this room.&rdquo;</p><p>Maybe you see the Democrats who are in the majority as protectors of government services. Or, maybe you agree that they are cynically using people for their own political priorities, and not spending taxpayer money effectively. Or maybe you think it&rsquo;s a combination of the two.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related:&nbsp;<a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/rauner">The Rauner Play-by-play</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich used to make the case for his budget priorities by often talking about &ldquo;no growth&rdquo; budgets, or cuts to programs for children. And Republicans often opposed Democratic budgets saying spending was out of control.</p><p>The point is, budget negotiations may be seen as a game of chess, but they have very real consequences.</p><p>This year, there&rsquo;s a new entity in the negotiating room, and some of those tried-and-true tactics are shifting.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re still feeling each other out,&rdquo; said former House Republican leader Tom Cross. &ldquo;I guess you&rsquo;d say they&rsquo;ve probably gotten to know each other. Now they&rsquo;re venturing a new road and trying to balance a budget with limited resources.&rdquo;</p><p>As the top House Republican, he was in the room to negotiate budgets with the Democrats who previously had majority control of state government. He said there was going to be posturing and leveraging in any negotiation, but right now, people are just trying to figure out Gov. Rauner, who&rsquo;s an unknown entity as a first-time office-holder.</p><p>Lee Daniels is another former House Republican leader, who also served as Speaker of the House for one term in the 1990s during a time when his own party controlled state government. He said even when negotiating a spending plan with members of his own party, there was still drama.</p><p>&ldquo;We all fought like cats and dogs as we should in a democracy in the legislative process. But at the end of the day, the people that I worked with when I was there, we understood that we had to come together in the end, we had to balance the budget,&rdquo; Daniels said.</p><p>Daniels also made the point that negotiations on the budget with the governor and the Democrats didn&rsquo;t mean his job was done. He then had to go sell the plan to his own fellow Republicans. If they weren&rsquo;t on board, he&rsquo;d have to negotiate with them to get enough votes to pass the whole thing.</p><p>Charlie Wheeler, a longtime Statehouse observer and political science professor at the University of Illinois-Springfield said putting the necessary votes on a negotiated budget can be tricky because leaders want to remain in power. And the way they keep that power is by protecting members of their own party, who may get asked to vote for unpopular ideas. So those who won&rsquo;t have serious opponents vote yes and those who typically have hard-fought elections don&rsquo;t have to.</p><p>&ldquo;It may sound cynical but I think it&rsquo;s reality. Particularly in this day and age when we have such polarized campaigns,&rdquo; Wheeler said.</p><p>But even as budget negotiations begin and the Democrats who have a majority of lawmakers in the Statehouse start to see Rauner&rsquo;s priorities on paper, Rauner has a slightly different viewpoint on the budget than previous administrations.</p><p>&ldquo;It ain&rsquo;t that hard to balance the budget,&rdquo; Rauner told a crowd recently.</p><p>The governor has said he&rsquo;s not focused on negotiating the budget just yet because - as he puts it - it&rsquo;s rather easy.</p><p>Instead, Rauner is first going after something he says is more difficult: something he calls making structural changes to government, or eliminating conflicts of interest.</p><p>But opponents have another name for it: Union-busting.</p><p>So how is Rauner doing on that front?</p><p>We&rsquo;ll have more on that next week - as we continue to look at Governor Rauner&rsquo;s first 100 days in office.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him </em><a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold"><em>@tonyjarnold</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Fri, 17 Apr 2015 12:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/rauners-first-100-days-politics-negotiating-budget-111898 Why apartments are the blind spot in Chicago's recycling program http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/why-apartments-are-blind-spot-chicagos-recycling-program-111883 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/201003191&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Our question asker Quetzalli Castro grew up in a Logan Square two-flat. Her parents still live in that house on Kedzie Avenue. Among the many fond memories she remembers from growing up there is the day they got curbside recycling.</p><p>&ldquo;My parents were very happy about that,&rdquo; says Castro, 26. &ldquo;I remember grabbing jars and throwing them in there and seeing a big, blue truck come and take it away on I think it was Wednesdays.&rdquo;</p><p>Since then she&rsquo;s lived in several larger apartment buildings, but none of them has had recycling.</p><p>&ldquo;So I&#39;ve been caught trying to put my recycling into other people&#39;s recycling bins and they&#39;re like &lsquo;Put it in your own!&rsquo; I don&#39;t have one. I wish I did! I have all this recycling and nowhere to go,&rdquo; Castro says.</p><p>She&rsquo;s even called the city to ask about getting a blue cart, but says she didn&rsquo;t get a straight answer. So she asked Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Why is recycling not available to apartment buildings and certain parts of the city?</em></p><p>The short answer is that the city has a two-pronged system for recycling: Small buildings with four or fewer units get one system (the blue carts and bins Castro remembers) and buildings with five or more units are supposed to set up their own systems through private contractors.</p><p>But the real reason why Castro and perhaps hundreds of thousands of apartment dwellers like her end up throwing their recyclables in the dumpster is more complicated: It has to do with city politics, landfill economics and a toothless ordinance that has struggled to buoy recycling rates in large apartment buildings for 22 years.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Waste piling up</span></p><p>Quetzalli Castro is not alone. In January Claire Micklin left an <a href="http://opengovhacknight.org/">Open Government Hack Night</a> with an interactive website designed to identify and shame owners of large apartment buildings without recycling. She called it <a href="http://www.mybuildingdoesntrecycle.com/">MyBuildingDoesntRecycle.com</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;I&#39;ve lived in Chicago 10 years and I&#39;ve never been in a building that has recycling,&rdquo; says Micklin, who grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and now lives in an apartment building in the Edgewater neighborhood. &ldquo;I noticed the blue bins from next door, a four-flat, were overflowing because people from my building kept putting their recycling in there.&rdquo;</p><p>Like Castro, Micklin reached out to the city only to find herself more confused &mdash; there was no recourse for building residents like her who wanted to recycle, but whose landlords wouldn&rsquo;t provide the service.</p><p>Micklin did a little more research and learned the city passed a law in 1993 called <a href="http://www.luc.edu/media/lucedu/sustainability-new/pdfs/REcycling%20Ordinance%20Chicago%2011%20%205.pdf">the Chicago High Density Residential and Commercial Source Reduction and Recycling Ordinance</a> (more commonly referred to as the Burke-Hansen ordinance, for the aldermen who drafted it). The ordinance made owners of large apartment buildings (defined as having at least five units) responsible for their own recycling, because the existing requirements for garbage pick-up made the same distinction. The city gave multi-unit building owners until 1995 to establish programs that would collect at least two kinds of recyclables. By 1996 they were all supposed to collect at least three. If they didn&rsquo;t, Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Streets &amp; Sanitation could issue fines to the building owners for $25 to $100 per day.</p><p>But 22 years later it&rsquo;s common to find large apartment buildings without any recycling service at all. Less than three months after her site launched, Micklin says nearly 1,300 people have reported 1,034 addresses through MyBuildingDoesntRecycle.com.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://mybuildingdoesntrecycle.com/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/website%20screenshot.PNG" style="height: 223px; width: 620px;" title="The website mybuildingdoesn'trecycle.com has gained about 1,300 reports since its launch in January 2015. " /></a></div><p>The overall success of Chicago&rsquo;s residential recycling program could depend on the participation of large apartment and condo buildings. More than 442,000 housing units (just slightly more than forty percent of the city&rsquo;s total) are supposed to have recycling provided by landlords or condo associations. And, according to 2007 data (the latest available), <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/doe/general/RecyclingAndWasteMgmt_PDFs/WasteAndDiversionStudy/WasteCharacterizationReport.pdf">these units account for more than a third of the solid waste collected from the residential sector.</a></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><a name="enforcement"></a>No enforcement</span></p><p>A key reason why many building owners appear not to have complied with the Burke-Hansen ordinance is that the city rarely enforces it. Records provided by Chicago&rsquo;s office of Business Affairs &amp; Consumer Protection and the Department of Administrative Hearings show that, since 2010, the city issued just 109 citations for not recycling in commercial or residential establishments.</p><p>Why the lax enforcement? Burke-Hansen authorizes fines, but it doesn&rsquo;t compel the city to actually issue them.</p><p>&ldquo;Everything is a &lsquo;can&rsquo; and a &lsquo;may,&rsquo; and [the ordinance] has the authority but it doesn&#39;t say &lsquo;you must,&rsquo;&rdquo; says Helen Shiller, who represented the city&rsquo;s 46th Ward from 1987 until 2011. &ldquo;The issue with private haulers is that it&#39;s been left entirely to the market. To the extent that there&#39;s been people demanding more [recycling], that&#39;s pushed it along some. To the extent that there&#39;s more economic viability, it&#39;s increased. But the city has not changed its language to require anything.&rdquo;</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/shiller%20quote.png" style="height: 100px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>Shiller says for condominiums and townhouses, it&rsquo;s a slightly different story. There was a rebate program in place for any condo association that presented the city with an affidavit declaring the building had recycling. <a href="http://committeeonfinance.org/condo/index.asp">It&#39;s currently being phased out</a>, and payments were typically delayed by as many as five years, but Shiller says that program once served as a &ldquo;carrot&rdquo; to complement Burke-Hansen&rsquo;s seldom-used &ldquo;stick&rdquo; of warnings and fines.</p><p>For apartment buildings, however, the regulatory environment is simpler. The city doesn&rsquo;t tax recycling pick-up like it does trash, but apartment building owners never benefitted from an incentive program like condos used to.</p><p>&ldquo;In this case there seems to be neither a carrot nor a stick,&rdquo; says Carter O&rsquo;Brien, the vice president of the Chicago Recycling Coalition, a volunteer advocacy group. The Coalition has been working with (and sometimes against) the city since the early 1990s to improve recycling rates in the Chicago area.</p><p>In some ways, O&rsquo;Brien says, the city&rsquo;s past efforts at recycling still haunt present-day operations. The first citywide recycling effort began in 1995, when Chicagoans were asked to buy special blue, plastic bags at the grocery store in which they&rsquo;d put their recycling before throwing the bag in the trash. Recyclables were supposed to get sifted out at sorting facilities after that, but little of it did. The city canned the program in 2008.</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/FLICKR%20jenn%20brandle%20blue%20bags.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="The first citywide recycling program debuted in 1995, and required residents to throw their recycling in special blue, plastic bags before throwing the bags in the trash. (Flickr/Jennifer Brandel)" /></div><p>&ldquo;The blue bag was just such a catastrophe. It really set Chicago back quite a bit, because even people that did it religiously kind of suspected deep down that maybe it wasn&#39;t working so well,&rdquo; says O&rsquo;Brien. &ldquo;And for people that were kind of on the fence, they basically said, &#39;This is obviously not working. I see my blue bags go in a truck, I see them rip open, and this is a scam, a con and a joke, and I&rsquo;m not going to think about recycling ever again.&#39;&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Money in the trash</span></p><p>The irony for owners of multi-unit residential buildings is that recycling can be easy to implement. Sometimes it even saves building owners money.</p><p>Gordon Magill is president of Family Properties, a company his great grandfather started more than a century ago. Family Properties now owns 15 multi-unit buildings on the city&rsquo;s North Side and in the suburbs. Magill still has hundreds of blue bags stashed in a cupboard in his Edgewater office. He&rsquo;s an avid recycler &mdash; he picked up a few soda cans off the sidewalk on our way to the dumpsters behind one of his buildings &mdash; but said the Blue Bag program was doomed from the start. Undeterred by its failure, however, Magill reached out to the company that hauls waste from his buildings and set up a recycling program.</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/magill1%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" title="Gordon Magill is president of Family Properties in Chicago. He says recycling is a net-positive for him financially. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></div><p>&ldquo;When the blue bag program ended, basically we weren&#39;t shocked. Let&#39;s just start with that,&rdquo; Magill says. &ldquo;We just picked up the phone, called up our salesperson for our scavenging service and asked them to put in the bins. It was as simple as that.&rdquo;</p><p>Magill says recycling is either a low-cost addition or a net positive for him financially, as he doesn&rsquo;t have to pay as often to empty his building&rsquo;s more expensive trash bins. He also cites recycling&rsquo;s &ldquo;commercial appeal to environmentally conscientious residents.&rdquo; In other words: His tenants want it.</p><p>Not all landlords are so zealous. Jim Thom, who owns a 14-unit building in Avondale, says he&rsquo;d like to offer recycling to his tenants but can&rsquo;t figure out how to make it work. His dumpster sits in a narrow gangway that runs all the way to the alley, leaving little room for another bin; the trash bin already pinches circulation between the stairwell and the building&rsquo;s laundry room.</p><p>And, Thom says, when he looked into recycling, he found it could bump up his waste pick-up costs as much as 33 percent, from $3,000 to $4,000 a year.</p><p>&ldquo;It&#39;s certainly something we think about,&rdquo; says Thom. &ldquo;We just haven&#39;t seen a solution that&#39;s made us jump and say, &#39;Let&#39;s do it.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>He says he&rsquo;s never been fined by the city for not providing recycling, and hasn&rsquo;t heard of any building owners or managers who have.</p><p>Josh Connell, a managing partner with Lakeshore Recycling Systems, says there are times when recycling just doesn&rsquo;t make sense.</p><p>&ldquo;Those are the small buildings &mdash; your six-unit, 10-unit, even up to 25-unit buildings depending on the logistics and the space &mdash; it&#39;s difficult to recycle,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Multi-unit residential buildings are a little less than half of Lakeshore&rsquo;s business, Connell says, and he estimates four out of five of them order recycling along with trash pick-up. Larger buildings enjoy an economy of scale that can make recycling revenue-neutral, or even a net positive. But even though waste hauling is typically a minor item on a building owner&rsquo;s balance sheet, any extra expense has to be justified.</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/connell%20quote.png" title="" /></div><p>&ldquo;If it&#39;s gonna cost money to recycle and the residents of these buildings aren&#39;t pushing for it, most building owners are not going to spend more money when people aren&#39;t clamoring for it,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;We have building owners that do pay for recycling because the residents want it.&rdquo;</p><p>As evinced by the popularity of MyBuildingDoesntRecycle.com, a lot of multi-unit building residents want it.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The trash is always greener on the other side</span></p><p>Recycling rates have been on the rise both nationally and in Chicago, and waste haulers like Connell say interest in their business is rising, even as the falling price of oil undercuts plastic recyclers&rsquo; bottom line. But is a more environmentally conscious public all it takes to forge a sterling recycling program?</p><p>Probably not. San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and even New York City come up often in discussions of successful recycling programs. In 2012 <a href="http://sfmayor.org/index.aspx?recordid=113&amp;page=846" target="_blank">San Francisco announced it had achieved 80 percent landfill diversion</a>, well on its way to a goal of &ldquo;zero waste&rdquo; by 2020. It even has curbside composting to collect food waste and other organic material alongside bins for trash and recycling. San Francisco&rsquo;s success is due to several factors &mdash; including a culture of conservation and clear, rigorously enforced regulations. But a simple number holds it all together: $151.47.</p><p><a href="http://www.recologysf.com/index.php/for-homes/transfer-station-residential">That&#39;s how much it costs</a> to dump one ton of waste in a landfill in the Bay Area. Figures are nearly as high on much of the West Coast. That number in Chicago is just $46, according to the city&rsquo;s Department of Streets &amp; Sanitation. In New York and along the East Coast it&rsquo;s somewhere between the two, around $100 per ton.</p><p>Connell says we should consider the dumping costs that are eventually passed onto building owners.</p><p>&ldquo;If they&#39;re paying twice as much to get rid of garbage, adding recycling could be an immediate positive impact on their bottom line,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Still, Connell says he sees a lot more Chicago landlords coming around to recycling these days, in part because their tenants are starting to demand it. And if more buildings set up recycling, the cost borne by each one could fall, as waste haulers compete for business and are able to travel fewer empty miles between each pick-up.</p><p>The societal benefits of cutting down on trash are myriad: Chicago trucks bound for the nearest landfill typically end up in Rockford or downstate Indiana, belching greenhouse gases all the way there and even <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/when-chicago-area-traffic-worst-111374">helping clog up already congested roads</a>.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&lsquo;I give it a C&rsquo;</span></p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s poor reputation for recycling is no secret, even to those currently in charge of administering it. Ald. George Cardenas (12th), chairman of City Council&rsquo;s Committee on Health and Environmental Protection, calls the current program &ldquo;a work in progress.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We&#39;re nowhere near the level that we should be. I give it a C right now,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;We need to get better at it. We need to enforce better. And we need to educate a lot of constituents in the outer wards of the city.&rdquo;</p><p>He says he&rsquo;s wary of alienating landlords and businesses, but concedes that the owners of multi-unit residential buildings and small businesses have had more than 20 years to institute recycling since the Burke-Hansen ordinance passed.</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/cardenas.png" title="" /></div><p>&ldquo;I think we&#39;ve come full circle. We&rsquo;ve obviously given them ample time, and so I&#39;m at the point where I want to take more draconian efforts to make sure everyone&#39;s fully in compliance,&rdquo; Cardenas says. He can&rsquo;t point to any measure currently on the agenda for his committee or others in the City Council, but his assessment of the situation is blunt: &ldquo;The buildings are there. They should be doing it. Go check them, give them a citation, come into compliance. It&#39;s really that simple.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">How big is this blind spot in Chicago&rsquo;s recycling program? According to DSS data, smaller residential buildings recycle just over 11 percent of their waste. On paper, things appear better when it comes to larger buildings: <a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1NQ1JsVu4Ob_iYxKQJTYsw_oBW6pAspJpyah3uwL4yrw/pubhtml?gid=0&amp;single=true" target="_blank">Figures reported bi-annually to the city by private waste haulers </a>suggest that buildings the city is not responsible for recycled 38.7 percent of their waste. But, there&rsquo;s a problem with that comparison, since the private haulers serve industrial and commercial clients as well as large, multi-unit residential buildings. DSS has no data that separates out recycling for multi-unit residential buildings</p><p>In other words, we don&rsquo;t know if the situation our question-asker Quetzalli Castro asked about is getting better at all. And absent any plans to enforce the ordinance, she may be stuck in that situation, at the whim of her landlord.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/question%20asker%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="height: 480px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Quetzalli Castro, our question-asker. " /><span style="font-size:22px;">Quetzalli Castro, Curious Citizen</span></p><p>Quetzalli Castro, 26, is a determined recycler &mdash; she&rsquo;s already doing it even though her building manager doesn&rsquo;t provide the service. She says that impulse started young and hasn&rsquo;t dwindled, even if her options have.</p><p>&ldquo;I&#39;ll admit to being sort of a judgey person and saying, &lsquo;Oh you don&#39;t recycle?&rsquo; and [people] say &lsquo;Well we used to back where I came from, but here in Chicago my apartment building doesn&#39;t offer it so I don&#39;t do it anymore.&rsquo; For me it&#39;s been a struggle, since I&#39;ve always had that habit and I don&#39;t want to lose that recycling habit.&rdquo;</p><p>A longtime Logan Square resident, Castro grew up in a two-flat on Kedzie boulevard and now lives in a multi-unit apartment building nearby. She was born in Mexico City, but moved to Chicago when she was just one year old.</p><p>Right now Castro is a graduate student at the University of Chicago in their Urban Teacher Education Program, pursuing a two-year degree focused on education in Chicago.</p><p>Castro is dismayed by the lack of recycling among many multi-unit apartment buildings. And she says learning about the city&rsquo;s lack of enforcement adds another dimension to neighborhood development.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that&#39;s pretty surprising, especially now that there&#39;s a lot of reconstruction in Logan Square and lots of other areas that are being gentrified. There&#39;s bigger buildings going up. And that&#39;s kind of concerning because we&#39;re losing affordable housing, but also recycling, too,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;I know there are plenty of people who wish to recycle, but don&#39;t or really can&#39;t because they don&#39;t have a blue bin offered to them. And I find that really sad.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">Chris Bentley is a freelance journalist</a> and reporter for Curious City. Follow him at<a href="http://twitter.com/cementley" target="_blank"> @Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 17:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/why-apartments-are-blind-spot-chicagos-recycling-program-111883 Black vote proves key in Chicago mayoral race http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/black-vote-proves-key-chicago-mayoral-race-111844 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Chart.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Without the black vote, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wouldn&#39;t have won reelection.</p><p>Four years ago, Emanuel won most of the votes in black wards. On Tuesday, he repeated that performance in a runoff by receiving on average 57 percent of the vote in those South and West side wards.</p><p>To be sure, Emanuel also fared well with white voters, especially in affluent wards. Yet both Emanuel and challenger Cook County Commissioner Jesus &ldquo;Chuy&rdquo; Garcia jockeyed for the black vote. The candidates tailored their messages to the black voting bloc on schools and public safety. Emanuel even made an appearance on Nation of Islam-affiliated Munir Muhammad&rsquo;s show on public access television. Garcia had Jesse Jackson Sr. in his camp. Emanuel had Cong. Bobby Rush.</p><div id="responsive-embed-runoff">&nbsp;</div><script src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-dailygraphics/dailygraphics/graphics/runoff/js/lib/pym.js" type="text/javascript"></script><script type="text/javascript"> jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var pymParent = new pym.Parent( 'responsive-embed-runoff', 'http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-dailygraphics/dailygraphics/graphics/runoff/child.html', {} ); }); </script><p>Emanuel emerged the victor. But what will black voters do with their clout? Political analyst Laura Washington said it can&rsquo;t be business as usual. Black voters need to flex their power.</p><p>&ldquo;They have to organize and they have to make demands. First of all, we have to come up with an agenda. It doesn&rsquo;t have to be a unified, universal agenda. But some smart, savvy political organizers, elected and otherwise, need to come up with a to-do list for Rahm Emanuel,&rdquo; Washington said.</p><p><strong>The need for an &lsquo;ask&rsquo;</strong></p><p>The reelected incumbent has pledged to be a better listener. But currently, there&rsquo;s no black policy agenda. There&rsquo;s no formal ask -- at least not publicly.<br /><br />Emanuel angered black voters with school closings and what some say was lack of attention to their communities. Garcia, the darling of grassroots activists, spoke of inclusiveness but didn&rsquo;t outline a specific black agenda.</p><p>Voters like Lindsey Sorrell expressed frustration with economic inequality in the city.</p><p>&ldquo;When you go down that stretch, the far South Side, it&rsquo;s like a barren wasteland. There&rsquo;s no type of economic wealth at all. They have a chamber of commerce. But for what?&rdquo; Sorrell said.</p><p>The last time the black vote mattered as much in a Chicago mayoral race goes back three decades to the days of Harold Washington. Back then the voter turnout in his 1983 and 1987 elections reached up to 80 percent across the city. Blacks and independent white voters helped put him in office. Former Mayor Richard M. Daley never needed the black voting bloc; his coalition consisted of Hispanics, white ethnics and white lakefront voters. And subsequently, voter turnout plummeted to as low as 32 percent.</p><p>The April 7 runoff voter turnout hit close to 40 percent, up several points from the February race.</p><p>Northeastern Illinois University&rsquo;s Robert Starks said blacks also played a big role in Garcia&rsquo;s campaign.</p><p>&ldquo;Garcia campaign proved that there is the possibility of a strong independent black-brown progressive coalition&rdquo; Starks said.</p><p>But Starks takes the long view on the political cycle.</p><p>He says that means, &ldquo;Selecting a set of candidates that we can begin grooming, particularly young blacks and women. We have pretty much overlooked the potential of black women in this whole scheme.&rdquo;</p><p>Starks said the community can&rsquo;t wait until six months before the next election. Preparations need to begin now.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a></em></p><p><em>Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 16:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/black-vote-proves-key-chicago-mayoral-race-111844