WBEZ | Joliet http://www.wbez.org/tags/joliet Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Illinois near the top in reports of sexual abuse of youth prisoners http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-near-top-reports-sexual-abuse-youth-prisoners-107590 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IDJJ_Admin_550.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A new federal report says Illinois is one of the worst states in the country when it comes to youth reports of sexual abuse in prison.</p><p>Researchers with the Bureau of Justice Statistics say that more than 15 percent of kids in Illinois youth prisons reported they had been sexually victimized while inside.</p><p>Nationwide, that figure was about 10 percent.</p><p>At a recently closed youth prison in southwest suburban Joliet, about one in five youth reported being victimized by staff.</p><p>John Maki of the prison watchdog John Howard Association says these numbers are &ldquo;shameful,&rdquo; and they show that the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice has to scrutinize its entire system.</p><p>Maki says after the Joliet youth prison closed earlier this year, staff members were transferred to three other youth prisons throughout Illinois.</p><p>&ldquo;On some level there was a culture that permitted this to happen, and again I mean Joliet is closed, the staff are all moved to other facilities. I think the thing we need to focus on now is to make sure that culture died at Joliet. This cannot happen again.&rdquo; Maki says. &ldquo;People should be held accountable.&rdquo;</p><p>In an emailed statement, a spokeswoman with the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice says they are currently reviewing the report and that the department takes all allegations of sexual abuse seriously.</p><p>The 65-page report, released yesterday, is based on surveys with youth prisoners conducted between February and September of 2012 in 273 state-owned or -operated juvenile facilities and 53 locally or privately operated facilities that held adjudicated youth under state contract. The survey limited reporting by youth to incidents occurring in the last 12 months.</p><p>According to that survey, Illinois is one of four states that could be considered to have a high rate of sexual victimization in its youth prisons.</p><p>According to the report, about 2.5 percent of juveniles nationawide reported a sexual incident involving another youth last year, and 7.7 percent reported an incident involving staff members.</p><p>While nationally most victims of staff sexual misconduct reported there was no use of physical force or threats, at the Joliet youth prison the majority of victims reported being victimized by staff through the use of force.</p><p>All but one of the facilities in Illinois - the youth prison in St. Charles - had rates of reported sexual victimization that were higher than the national average.</p><p>The survey, mandated by the Prison Rape Elimination Act, defines sexual victimization as any unwanted sexual activity between youth and all sexual activity between youth and adult staff.</p><p>In an emailed statement, Anders Lindall, a spokesman for the union that represents corrections staff, wrote that the work of the 1,000 men and women in the youth prisons should not be overshadowed by allegations against a few.</p><p>But the John Howard Association&rsquo;s Maki says the tendency to &ldquo;single out bad actors,&rdquo; is the wrong response to this report.</p><p>&ldquo;With these levels of sexual assault it is not one bad apple, it is a bad barrel. Something has gone wrong here in the Department of Juvenile Justice where something like this could happen,&rdquo; Maki said.</p><p>He says that is a sign that the department needs to allow more access to its prisons.</p><p>Right now, Maki says, his group is not allowed to conduct confidential interviews of inmates or to come for unscheduled visits.</p><p>He says without that kind of access for John Howard, or another oversight group, there is no way to be sure this kind of abuse won&rsquo;t happen again.</p><p>He also says it is an indication that the department needs to fix an&nbsp; &ldquo;inadequate&rdquo; grievance process.</p><p>If a youth prisoner has a problem with a guard, he or she has to file a written complaint that is then reviewed by prison staff members.</p><p>&ldquo;Essentially you have a defendant who is also the judge,&rdquo; Maki says.</p><p>That, according to Maki, means it is possible that a person in a youth prison could be reporting sexual abuse to his or her abuser or&nbsp;&nbsp; someone who was complicit in the abuse.</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ reporter.</em></p></p> Fri, 07 Jun 2013 11:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-near-top-reports-sexual-abuse-youth-prisoners-107590 Adjunct professors demand inclusion in health care reforms http://www.wbez.org/news/adjunct-professors-demand-inclusion-health-care-reforms-106034 <p><p>Starting in January 2014, large employers will be required to give health benefits to people who work at least 30 hours a week. The provision of the federal Affordable Care Act applies to anyone with more than 50 full-time employees &ndash; including all of Illinois&#39; community colleges.</p><p>Now some adjunct professors are worried they&rsquo;ll have their hours cut by colleges who don&rsquo;t want to shell out the cash come January.</p><p>Dennis Polkow joined a group of protesters Friday outside the Westin Hotel, where Illinois community college leaders were holding a weekend gathering. After working at Oakton Community College for 13 years, he&rsquo;s teaching 3 classes this semester and making less than 12 thousand dollars, he says, with no benefits<b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">. </span></b>Like many other adjuncts, Polkow often juggles jobs at several colleges to make ends meet.</p><p>He said when he heard about the health care bill, &ldquo;I thought, hallelujah, affordable health care act. I&rsquo;ll be able to get affordable health care. Instead it&rsquo;s like...cut, cut, cut, cut, cut.&rdquo;</p><p>Polkow&rsquo;s one of the people who&rsquo;d be covered under Obamacare. But this February he found out Oakton may limit adjunct course loads in preparation for the health care law to kick in.</p><p>The college caught flack from faculty over memos that circulated about limiting adjunct course hours, and now Oakton Community College President Peg Lee says nothing&rsquo;s been decided.</p><p>&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t even know how to define the number of hours,&rdquo; she said Friday.</p><p>Adjuncts are paid by the course hour rather than by hours worked, and federal guidelines for calculating who will get coverage are still under review. Lee says whatever the calculations, community colleges are already strapped for cash. Governor Quinn&rsquo;s 2014 budget slashes higher education by five percent, and Lee says Oakton&rsquo;s still waiting on state reimbursement checks from last year. Sequestration cuts could also limit the numbers of students bringing federal aid into the community college system.</p><p>&ldquo;As much as I believe in universal health care and a single payer, we can&rsquo;t be that universal health care and single payer provider,&rdquo; Lee said. &ldquo;We just don&rsquo;t have the money.&rdquo;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7114_051-scr.JPG" style="height: 187px; width: 280px; float: right;" title="Peg Lee (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>It&rsquo;s unclear whether most community colleges will adopt the practice of cutting adjunct hours to avoid Obamacare costs.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re learning what the rules are and how they impact employees and employers, and the decisions that need to be made,&rdquo; said Mike Monaghan, director of the Illinois Community College Trustees Association. &ldquo;We have lots more work to do.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, he said the adjuncts&rsquo; concerns are legitimate.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody has reason to be concerned, whether you&rsquo;re an employee or an employer,&rdquo; Monaghan said. &ldquo;Any additional expense puts pressure on declining budgets.&rdquo;</p><p>Cuts are already in place at Joliet Junior College (JJC).&nbsp;In anticipation of the health care reforms, the administration has placed a cap of six course hours per semester on all adjuncts&rsquo; schedules beginning this summer. At the protest Friday, JJC adjuncts&rsquo; union president Al Kennedy spoke quietly but urgently&nbsp;about the effect of the cuts on some union members.</p><p>&ldquo;Are they going to be able to pay their rent for their apartment? Are they gonna be able to put food on the table for the kids? They&rsquo;re just beside themselves,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>JJC stands by the decision, saying that planning for a law they still have so little information about is a balancing act.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7116_019-scr.JPG" style="height: 201px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Steven Brody (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" />&ldquo;I think this is just one of the sort of byproducts of this law,&rdquo; said JJC spokesperson Kelly Rohder.</p><p>But to protester Steven Brody, also an Oakton adjunct, this is about &nbsp;more than a fight over health care.</p><p>&ldquo;This is simply the first reaction of every one of these colleges to having to finally come to grips with the fact that they overutilize and underpay their adjunct faculty,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><a href="http://www.academicworkforce.org/CAW_portrait_2012.pdf" target="_blank">A recent study</a> found that three quarters of college classes nationwide are taught by part-time or adjunct instructors, a dramatic shift from the 1970s when the majority of classes were taught by tenured faculty. Average pay for adjunct professors adds up to just over $20,000 a year for eight courses total, and most of the positions don&rsquo;t come with health insurance.</p><p><em>Follow <a href="https://twitter.com/LewisPants" target="_blank">Lewis Wallace on Twitter</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 11 Mar 2013 16:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/adjunct-professors-demand-inclusion-health-care-reforms-106034 Foster glides past Biggert after race that looked tight http://www.wbez.org/news/foster-glides-past-biggert-after-race-looked-tight-103708 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/foster_smal_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><p>Defying opinion polls that depicted a neck-and-neck contest, Democrat Bill Foster easily defeated Republican U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert in the 11th Congressional District on Tuesday. With nearly all precincts reporting, Foster had almost 58 percent of the vote; Biggert had 42 percent.</p><p>In his victory speech, Foster expressed misgivings about the race&rsquo;s negative television advertising, a months-long barrage funded by campaign contributions and outside spending totaling roughly $14 million. &ldquo;I sense that both Congresswoman Biggert and myself were forced into an increasingly ugly world of politics today &mdash; a world that we were both deeply uncomfortable with,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Biggert, a seven-term House member, appeared to blame her loss on congressional redistricting controlled by Illinois Democrats. &ldquo;This race wasn&rsquo;t supposed to happen,&rdquo; she told supporters in her concession speech. &ldquo;They thought that I would shy away from a tough race in a district tailor-made for my opponent, and they were wrong.&rdquo;</p><p>Other factors contributing to Biggert&rsquo;s defeat included strong Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts and growing Latino numbers in Chicago&rsquo;s suburbs. In the 11th District &mdash; which includes parts of Aurora, Naperville, Bolingbrook and Joliet &mdash; Hispanics constitute 22 percent of the population. Foster rallied them by pointing to Biggert&rsquo;s&nbsp;vote against the DREAM Act, a stalled bill that would have provided many young undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship.</p><p>Despite a bitter tone through much of the race, the candidates claimed to be moderate and eager to work across party lines. And they did not stand far apart on some hot-button issues. Both, for example, warmed up to legal recognition of same-sex marriage and avoided weighing in on whether Joliet should pursue a privately run detention center that would hold immigrants awaiting deportation.</p><p>On other issues, particularly economic matters, the candidates showed greater differences. Foster blasted Biggert&rsquo;s vote for a budget plan that would slash spending and overhaul Medicare, providing government subsidies to individuals who chose to buy private insurance.</p><p>On Social Security, Biggert backed enabling individuals to invest a portion of their contributions in the stock market &mdash; a proposal Foster called too risky. On health policy, Foster touted his vote for President Barack Obama&rsquo;s Affordable Care Act, a law Biggert characterized as a jobs killer and sought to repeal. On taxes, Biggert supported extending all of President George W. Bush&rsquo;s cuts, while Foster called for allowing them to expire for incomes above $250,000.</p><div><p>The election marks a comeback for Foster, 55, who served almost three years in a nearby House district. Republican Randy Hultren unseated Foster in a 2010 election that swept the GOP into control of the House.</p><p>As the Republicans retain their majority, Foster is vowing to work with them by focusing on, as he puts it, &ldquo;numbers instead of political positions.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We have to make sure that government investments are as cost-effective and highest-return as possible,&rdquo; he told WBEZ late Tuesday. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s something that Democrats and Republicans agree on.&rdquo;</p><p>Foster said bipartisan points of unity could include cutting &ldquo;military systems the Pentagon doesn&rsquo;t want&rdquo; and encouraging a rebirth of domestic manufacturing. &ldquo;One of the best things about the ongoing recovery is that U.S. manufacturing is leading that,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Foster also had a prediction about the election results. He said they would end acrimonious debates about Obamacare and financial reregulation.</p></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 00:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/foster-glides-past-biggert-after-race-looked-tight-103708 Biggert, Foster turn to big names to drum up votes in tight House race http://www.wbez.org/news/biggert-foster-turn-big-names-drum-votes-tight-house-race-103671 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Judy Biggert AP cropped.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>After a firestorm of negative television advertising in their tight Illinois congressional race, Republican U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert and Democrat Bill Foster are trying to get their supporters to the polls using a few bells and whistles.<br><br>Foster, a former one-term U.S. House member, started robocalls Monday to potential voters in the suburban Chicago district using the voice of former President Bill Clinton, who said the candidate&rsquo;s experience in science and business provided &ldquo;the kind of common-sense experience and leadership we need in Washington.&rdquo;<br><br>Biggert, a seven-term House member, came up with an attention grabber of her own. In a YouTube video, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk praised her as &ldquo;one of the ultimate suburban moms who should be representing us in the Congress next year.&rdquo; Kirk, the state&rsquo;s top Republican, has kept a low profile since suffering a stroke in January.<p>&nbsp;</p>The uplifting words from Clinton and Kirk stood out after months of mind-numbing accusations and counteraccusations in the TV ads. The money behind those ads flowed in as polls suggested the 11th District contest was one of the closest House races in the country. By October 17, according to their latest federal filings, the Biggert and Foster campaigns had raked in more than $2.5 million each.<p>&nbsp;</p>And that&rsquo;s just the beginning. The race attracted more than $8 million in outside money, according to the Federal Election Commission. Figures from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics last month showed Biggert&rsquo;s campaign with an edge in that spending.<p>&nbsp;</p>On Friday, Foster resorted to lending his campaign $500,000. The money paid for his final TV ad, according to Foster campaign aide Aviva Bowen. &ldquo;We have to keep pace with the millions that [Biggert], her allies and the rightwing super-PACs have put up in false claims on TV,&rdquo; Bowen said.<p>&nbsp;</p>Biggert&rsquo;s team saw the loan differently. &ldquo;Congressman Foster is clearly desperate and terrified that Illinois voters are about to reject him and his dishonest smear campaigns once again,&rdquo; Biggert spokesman Gill Stevens wrote.<p>&nbsp;</p>On Monday, the candidates made a flurry of stops across the barbell-shaped district, which includes parts of Aurora, Naperville, Bolingbrook, Joliet and other suburbs west and southwest of Chicago. Foster&rsquo;s campaign said U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Maryland) was joining him on afternoon visits to sites set up for campaign volunteers. A Biggert aide said the Republican would attend a Joliet dinner hosted by the local chamber of commerce.<p>&nbsp;</p>Amid the combative TV ads, both candidates claimed to be moderate and eager to work across party lines. And they did not stand far apart on some hot-button issues. Both, for example, warmed up to legal recognition of same-sex marriage and avoided weighing in on whether Joliet should pursue a privately run detention center that would hold immigrants awaiting deportation.<p>&nbsp;</p>On other issues, particularly economic matters, the candidates showed greater differences. Foster blasted Biggert&rsquo;s vote for a budget plan that would slash spending and overhaul Medicare, providing government subsidies to individuals who choose to buy private insurance.<p>&nbsp;</p>On Social Security, Biggert backed enabling individuals to invest a portion of their contributions in the stock market &mdash; a proposal Foster called too risky. On health policy, Foster touted his vote for President Barack Obama&rsquo;s Affordable Care Act, a law Biggert characterized as a jobs killer and sought to repeal. On taxes, Biggert supported extending all of President George W. Bush&rsquo;s cuts, while Foster called for allowing them to expire for incomes above $250,000.<p></p>Both Biggert and Foster said they were trying to protect the middle class but neither seemed to have a personal stake in reversing the economic squeeze of recent decades.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>Biggert, 75, lives in Hinsdale and grew up in Wilmette, a suburb north of Chicago. Her father was a Walgreen Co. executive who headed the drugstore chain in the 1960s. She received a Northwestern University law degree and clerked for a federal judge. In politics, she began on a Hinsdale school board and made it to the U.S. House.<p>&nbsp;</p>Foster, 55, and his brother launched a theater lighting business that made them rich. Foster, a Harvard-educated physicist, also spent more than 20 years at the U.S. Department of Energy&rsquo;s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Batavia, a suburb west of Chicago.<p>&nbsp;</p><div>Foster won a 2008 special election to replace retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Dennis Hastert, a former longtime House speaker. The Democrat served just one full term before Randy Hultgren, a Republican state senator, unseated him in 2010. Foster moved to a Naperville section included in the 11th, a new congressional district with borders drawn by state Democrats after the 2010 census.</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 05 Nov 2012 15:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/biggert-foster-turn-big-names-drum-votes-tight-house-race-103671 Biggert, Foster sidestep immigrant detention-center project http://www.wbez.org/news/biggert-foster-sidestep-joliet-immigrant-detention-center-project-103508 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Elisa_Chombo_CROP.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 360px; width: 250px; " title="Elisa Chombo of Joliet signs a petition against the detention center at a Monday night forum. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert and her Democratic challenger, Bill Foster, are locking horns in one of the nation&rsquo;s most competitive House races, but both are trying to sidestep a brewing controversy over something President Barack Obama&rsquo;s administration is talking about bringing to the district: a privately run immigrant detention center.</p><p>The project came to light last week when an official of Joliet, a city 40 miles southwest of Chicago, said he had had talks with federal officials and Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America. The Joliet official, City Manager Thomas Thanas, said the detention center could generate hundreds of jobs and city revenue.</p><p>The project is not going over well with Latino groups that organized a candidate forum Monday night at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a Joliet church. The forum&rsquo;s moderator tried to ask the 11th Congressional District candidates whether they would help fight the project.</p><p>The response from Foster, a former U.S. representative, elicited nods from the roughly 200 audience members at points. &ldquo;For-profit incarceration is something that I am personally quite leery of,&rdquo; Foster said. &ldquo;We have an immigration system that depends way too heavily on incarceration and deportation.&rdquo;</p><p>But Foster said it was too early for him to make a decision about the detention center. &ldquo;I want to see the details of it,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So the answer is, I&rsquo;m waiting and seeing.&rdquo;</p><p>Biggert, the race&rsquo;s Republican, did not attend the forum. She sent a spokesman, who read a campaign statement that did not answer the moderator&rsquo;s question. &ldquo;Congresswoman Biggert would strongly oppose the federal government coming in and mandating what Joliet should or should not do,&rdquo; the spokesman told the crowd. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s really, ultimately, Joliet&rsquo;s decision.&rdquo;</p><p>Hours before the forum, WBEZ asked the Biggert campaign whether she would back a privately built and operated immigrant detention center in the district. The campaign sent the statement and did not answer the question.</p><p>Joliet&rsquo;s project follows a setback for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and CCA in south suburban Crete, where the agency wanted the company to build and run the detention center.</p><p>A political tide against the Crete project rose in January, when rivals in the area&rsquo;s Democratic House primary &mdash; U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his challenger, former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson &mdash; both sided against it. Village trustees rejected the plan in June.</p></p> Tue, 30 Oct 2012 02:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/biggert-foster-sidestep-joliet-immigrant-detention-center-project-103508 Joliet detention-center talks include private prison firm http://www.wbez.org/news/joliet-detention-center-talks-include-private-prison-firm-103436 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CCA_hall.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px; " title="CCA owns and operates Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga. The facility is one of many in which the company holds detainees for ICE. (AP File/Kate Brumback)" />A top Joliet official says his talks exploring possibilities for an immigrant detention center in the city have included the nation&rsquo;s largest private prison operator.</p><p>City Manager Thomas Thanas told WBEZ he had engaged in a &ldquo;preliminary conversation&rdquo; with officials of Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America to see &ldquo;whether Joliet might be a suitable site&rdquo; for a facility that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement wants in the Chicago area.</p><p>Thanas declined to say when and where the conversation took place or what details were discussed. &ldquo;We have not reviewed plans,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Nothing has been filed on a formal basis.&rdquo;</p><p>Joliet officials are &ldquo;not talking about any specific sites at this point,&rdquo; Thanas said. He added that &ldquo;a facility like this could not be located near a residential area, schools or a commercial district.&rdquo;</p><p>Thanas referred questions about site possibilities to CCA, whose spokesman referred inquiries to ICE, which declined to discuss the Joliet project.</p><p>The federal agency sent a statement that said building a Chicago-area detention center would help improve immigrant confinement conditions and enable &ldquo;locating detainees closer to where they are apprehended so that they can be near their families, community resources and the ICE field office.&rdquo;</p><p>What would Joliet get? &ldquo;Hundreds of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs,&rdquo; Thanas said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m always interested in projects that have an opportunity to create jobs and revenues for our school district.&rdquo;</p><p>Federal officials met with Thanas about the project October 17 in Washington, he said. &ldquo;It was a fact-gathering opportunity for both them and me.&rdquo;</p><p>Thanas also briefed some City Council members about the detention-center possibility.</p><p>But officials managed to keep the project out of public view until the Chicago Tribune revealed it late Wednesday. Within hours, some Joliet activists and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights began organizing opposition.</p><p>&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t believe you should be making a profit off of tearing families apart because they&rsquo;re undocumented,&rdquo; said Richard Rodríguez, a Joliet resident who chairs the Mexican American Coalition of Will County. &ldquo;There should be comprehensive immigration reform. Address the issue properly.&rdquo;</p><p>Thanas replied that national immigration policy was not Joliet&rsquo;s business. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s a matter of federal concern,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Joliet&rsquo;s nine City Council members on Thursday declined to comment or did not return messages about the project.<br /><br />The Joliet talks follow a highly publicized setback for ICE and CCA in south suburban Crete, where the agency wanted the company to build and run a 788-bed detention center. Village trustees rejected the plan June 11 after months of protests by residents, human-rights advocates and public-sector unions.</p><p>CCA had greater success in Springfield. The company lobbied against Illinois legislation that would have banned government agencies at the local and state levels from contracting with private firms to build or run civil detention centers. The bill passed the Senate in March but stalled after a series of close House floor votes May 31.</p></p> Fri, 26 Oct 2012 05:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/joliet-detention-center-talks-include-private-prison-firm-103436 Fest shines a light on local African-American rock bands http://www.wbez.org/blogs/marcus-gilmer/2012-09/fest-shines-light-local-african-american-rock-bands-102734 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/jeromeholloway.jpg" title="Jerome Holloway (Photo by Tom Gallagher, courtesy of the artist)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image "><p><strong>Lead story</strong>: With cooler weather and the start of fall, Chicago&#39;s outdoor festival season is drawing to a close. But to give up on outdoor music until 2013 would be to overlook the criminally under-reported <a href="http://www.facebook.com/events/373299099405938/">Black Dot Music Festival</a>. The fest, happening this Saturday night September 29 at Elastic Arts (2830 N. Milwaukee Avenue), aims to shine the spotlight on local African-American rock music and culture. Bands on the bill include outstanding singer-songwriter Jerome Holloway, the self-described &ldquo;ballroom rockers&rdquo; Blah Blah Blah, and folkster LeAnna Eden. It&#39;s the first such festival here in Chicago, though similar such events, like the annual <a href="http://afropunkfest.com/">AfroPunk Fest</a> and events thrown by the <a href="http://blackrockcoalition.org/">Black Rock Coalition</a>, have dotted the New York music landscape.</p><p>Keidra Chaney, a <a href="http://thelearnedfangirl.com/">local music blogger</a> and black musician, said &quot;the potential of this festival to connect such a diverse musical community is incredibly exciting. I hope it&#39;s the first of many and that it gets enough traction that the larger music scene here actually takes note.&rdquo; It&#39;s a subset of the city&#39;s local rock scene that&#39;s often overlooked and deserves more attention. Hopefully the fest will be just the first of many such events.</p><p><strong>Also: </strong>The members of Chicago&rsquo;s Occupy Wall Street movement scored a legal win yesterday when a judge <a href="http://www.myfoxchicago.com/story/19657847/judge-rules-90-occupy-chicago-arrests-unconstitutional-grant-park-tent-removal-city-curfew">tossed out the arrests of 92 protesters</a>&nbsp;from demonstrations a year ago. The arrests were made in Grant Park after the protesters refused to take down tents and leave the park after the city&rsquo;s enforced curfew. But Associate Judge Thomas Donnelly ruled the arrests unconstitutional <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-judge-tosses-occupy-chicago-park-arrests-20120927,0,904516.story">and cited other events</a>, such as the 2008 Election Night rally for President Obama, as examples when the curfew was broken but no arrests were made. The arrests, which occurred over two weekends last October, totaled more than 300 but over 200 of those protesters took court-supervision offers as to keep any convictions off their records.</p><p><strong>And then:</strong> There&rsquo;s trash talking and then there&rsquo;s just straight-up being horrible. A bench trial is underway in Joliet <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/15420337-761/assistant-us-attorney-joliet-officials-called-section-8-residents-rats-and-whores-from-chicago.html">pitting that city against the Department of Justice</a>; at stake is the rights to a Section 8 apartment complex that the City of Joliet wants to buy from its owners under eminent domain, and, according to the DOJ, bulldoze, unfairly displacing the residents. During proceedings yesterday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate Elengold&nbsp;alleged that one Joliet councilman called residents of the complex &ldquo;rats from the Robert Taylor homes&rdquo; and that another city leader referred to residents as &ldquo;whores&rdquo; and &ldquo;prostitutes.&rdquo; The DOJ also points to $5 million in federally-funded improvements and a dramatic drop in crime at the complex as a result of those improvements as proof that the city&rsquo;s desire to gain control of the complex is racially motivated.</p><p><strong>RIP: </strong>Actor <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/business/bloomberg/article/Herbert-Lom-Twitching-Policeman-in-Pink-3899410.php">Herbert Lom</a>, most noted for his role as Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus in the <em>Pink Panther</em> movies, at the age of 95. Lom also had roles in films such as <em>Spartacus</em>, <em>The Ladykillers</em> (1955), and <em>War and Peace</em> (1956). Among dozens of other roles, he also wrote two novels of historical fiction.</p><p><br /><strong>Elsewhere</strong></p><ul><li>The man behind the controversial film <em>Innocence of Muslims</em> <a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/09/innocence-of-muslims-filmmaker-ordered-to-jail-by-judge.html">has been ordered to jail</a> by a judge for apparently violating his probation.</li><li>After a set of controversial pro-Israel ads ran in the New York City subway, the M.T.A. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/28/nyregion/mta-amends-rules-after-pro-israel-ads-draw-controversy.html?hp&amp;_r=0&amp;gwh=A87281C542AE33598B185315487F5D52">has announced changes</a> to their rules about what ads are allowed.</li><li>So Todd Akin&rsquo;s senatorial campaign is <a href="http://gawker.com/5947071/todd-akin-says-he-knows-hes-winning-because-his-female-opponent-is-getting-less-ladylike">still a thing</a>.</li><li>After the police chief in a small New Mexico town was forced to resign, the only certified member of the police force&nbsp;<a href="http://news.yahoo.com/police-chief-resigns-nm-force-gone-dog-200452443.html">is a drug-sniffing dog</a>.</li><li>The Hubble Telescope has <a href="http://blog.seattlepi.com/hottopics/2012/09/26/hubble-image-shows-deepest-view-of-universe-ever/">now given us</a> the deepest view of the universe ever recorded.</li></ul><p><br /><strong>Looking Ahead: &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</strong></p><ul><li>Inspector General Joe Ferguson <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/15414674-761/traffic-fees-fire-crew-cuts-among-inspectors-12-billion-in-ideas.html">has suggested more cuts</a> to Mayor Rahm Emanuel that he says could save the city over a billion dollars.</li><li>Meanwhile, the Cook County inspector general reports <a href="http://www.wbez.org/nearly-100000-cook-county-funds-unaccounted-102726">that approximately $100,000</a> in funds has yet to be accounted for.</li><li>A new payment system <a href="http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/09/27/new-cta-fare-system-begins-next-summer/">for the CTA and PACE will be rolled out</a> next year but there&rsquo;s still no way to throw in Metra fare while you&rsquo;re at it.</li><li>Evanston police are <a href="http://www.myfoxchicago.com/story/19615949/14-year-old-boy-shot-dead-in-evanston">currently holding a &ldquo;person of interest&rdquo;</a> in connection with the weekend murder of 14-year-old Dajae Coleman.</li><li>Peapod&rsquo;s &ldquo;virtual&rdquo; supermarkets <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-peapod-to-put-virtual-markets-in-16-cta-metra-stations-20120927,0,6807740.story">are coming to 16 CTA stations</a>.</li></ul><p><br /><strong>Sports</strong></p><ul><li>Sox Watch: The Tigers won yet again over the Royals and the Pale Hose&nbsp;<a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2012_09_27_tbamlb_chamlb_1&amp;mode=gameday&amp;c_id=cws">lost yet another crucial game</a>, this time to Tampa, sending the Sox two games below Detroit as the collapse on the South Side continues.</li><li>One of the lone 2012 bright spots for the Cubs has been Darwin Barney&rsquo;s defense at second base. Barney has now <a href="http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/id/13771/cubs-barney-owns-piece-of-fielding-mark">tied the record</a> for consecutive games without an error.</li><li>As the NHL lockout continues, the league <a href="http://espn.go.com/nhl/story/_/id/8432212/nhl-cancels-remainder-preseason-schedule">has now canceled</a> the rest of the preseason games.</li><li>Pairings for the beginning of this weekend&rsquo;s Ryder Cup <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/sports&amp;id=8827694">were announced</a> yesterday.</li><li>The NFL&rsquo;s regular referees returned to the field last night and received what is probably <a href="http://deadspin.com/5947160/tonights-referee-crew-walked-out-to-a-standing-ovation-in-baltimore">one of the few standing ovations</a> officials have ever received.</li></ul><p><br /><strong>Finally &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</strong></p><p>With the NFL refs back on the field, here&rsquo;s a tribute to their leader, Ed Hochuli and his muscular arms. [<a href="http://www.thehighdefinite.com/2012/09/i-want-to-be-ed-hochuli/">via</a>]</p></div><p style="text-align: center; "><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="450" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/WpzEBWcjkAI" width="600"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 28 Sep 2012 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/marcus-gilmer/2012-09/fest-shines-light-local-african-american-rock-bands-102734 ICE nabs 29 in Chicago-area sweep for gang members http://www.wbez.org/news/ice-nabs-29-chicago-area-sweep-gang-members-98557 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ICE_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is talking up 29 Chicago-area arrests that were part of a national operation targeting transnational gangs.</p><p>Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of ICE’s Chicago-area Homeland Security Investigations, said the operation began April 9 and lasted three days. He said police in Wheeling, Waukegan, Joliet and Elgin took part.</p><p>“I don’t have the time and resources to just go round up everybody who happens to be in the country illegally,” Hartwig said. “Our job is to focus our resources on criminal gangs and criminal organizations — in this case, transnational gangs — who are operating in our communities and making our streets unsafe.”</p><p>As a result of the Chicago-area arrests, ICE says, a 26-year-old U.S. citizen and two foreign nationals face criminal charges. Officials say the other 26 detainees are in deportation proceedings.</p><p>An ICE statement says the operation, dubbed Project Nefarious, led to more than 600 arrrests nationwide. The statement says the operation spanned 150 U.S. cities and reached Honduras. The operation’s impetus, the agency adds, was a 2011 federal report that identified gangs tied to human smuggling and trafficking.</p><p>The victims of those crimes include foreign nationals in the United States, but some immigrant advocates are withholding praise for the operation.</p><p>“We support ICE’s efforts to target criminal enterprises rather than immigrants whose only crime is working to support their families,” said Chuck Roth, litigation director of the Chicago-based National Immigrant Justice Center. “But past ICE actions have usually turned out to involve more arrests of bystanders and family members than of individuals actively engaged in wrongdoing.”</p></p> Wed, 25 Apr 2012 09:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ice-nabs-29-chicago-area-sweep-gang-members-98557 Joliet lashes back at federal prosecutors over housing suit http://www.wbez.org/story/joliet-lashes-back-federal-prosecutors-over-housing-suit-90203 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-05/Thanas.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A top Joliet official is lashing back at federal prosecutors for suing his city to block condemnation of a low-income housing complex called Evergreen Terrace.<br> <br> The suit, a civil complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, accuses Joliet of violating the Fair Housing Act, trying to “perpetuate segregation,” and attempting to “limit or reduce the number of Black or African-American residents residing within the city.”<br> <br> City Manager Tom Thanas called the suit a legal maneuver to “wear us down” by lengthening Joliet’s six-year legal battle for authority to condemn the complex. “This is at a time when Joliet doesn’t have the financial resources to take on big litigation,” Thanas said Friday afternoon. “We, like other municipalities around the country, are suffering with declining revenues and increasing expenses.”<br> <br> Thanas stuck by the city’s claim that Evergreen Terrace, a privately owned 356-unit development, has too many police and fire calls. But whether to keep fighting for condemnation authority is up to Joliet elected officials, Thanas added. “That’s something we’ll be reviewing with the mayor and city council,” he said.<br> <br> The complex houses about 765 low-income residents, nearly all African-American, and abuts the Des Plaines River across from downtown Joliet.<br> <br> Joliet’s attempts to close Evergreen Terrace stretch back more than a decade. The city tried to block refinancing for the complex but the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sunk in millions of dollars.<br> <br> In 2005, Joliet asked a state court for condemnation authority. The HUD stake sent the condemnation bid into the federal court system, where it remains.<br> <br> The property’s owners, New West Limited Partnership and New Bluff Limited Partnership, filed a federal suit against the condemnation. A group of residents filed another federal suit against it. One of those residents, Teresa Davis, also filed a complaint with HUD, which led to Thursday’s U.S. Department of Justice suit.<br> <br> Joliet officials say the city for years has planned to redevelop the site for affordable housing and help relocate the residents.<br> <br> But Thursday’s suit claims “the city has no meaningful plan” for those aims.<br> <br> Patrick Johnson, an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, said Friday afternoon that prosecutors held discussions with Joliet officials before filing the suit. Johnson called those talks unsuccessful and said the sides have scheduled no other settlement negotiations. Next week, he added, the government will motion for its suit to be joined with the other federal suits aimed at preserving Evergreen Terrace. Johnson said the case’s discovery phase could last at least a year.<br> <br> Asked whether the government was just trying to wear down Joliet, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said prosecutors would have no further comment.<br> <br> An Evergreen Terrace resident, for his part, said the federal suit was already having an effect — bringing some positive attention to the complex. “I don’t see much wrong with the place,” said Elvis Foster, 53, who lives in a one-bedroom apartment and serves on the tenant council. “You’re close to downtown. You got the Joliet Junior College just two blocks away. And [the complex] is not feared as much as people would say.”</p></p> Fri, 05 Aug 2011 21:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/joliet-lashes-back-federal-prosecutors-over-housing-suit-90203 U.S. Attorney sues Joliet over housing discrimination http://www.wbez.org/story/us-attorney-sues-joliet-over-housing-discrimination-90154 <p><p>The federal government is suing the city of Joliet for housing discrimination.</p><p>The suit involves Evergreen Terrace, a low-income housing development with mostly black residents. Joliet wants to condemn the federally-subsidized apartments and relocate the tenants. But the U.S. Department of Justice says the city doesn’t have a realistic affordable housing plan that can accommodate the displaced residents.</p><p>A complaint filed in Chicago Thursday says getting rid of Evergreen Terrace would reduce the number of African-Americans living in Joliet and thereby perpetuate segregation in that city. Without Evergreen Terrace, civil rights attorneys say there’s a lack of comparable local housing. Nearly 800 residents live in the complex, which is across from the Des Plaines River and Harrah’s Casino.</p><p>The lawsuit seeks to stop the city from condemnation proceedings without ensuring adequate affordable housing in its place.</p><p>Joliet officials have previously called the building an eyesore and open-air drug market, and they followed through by officially labeling the building as blighted.</p><p>Contractors from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, however, found those conclusions lacked merit. The complaint cites comments from Joliet officials that publicly expressed hostility toward Evergreen Terrace, including one that called the building a “cancer on the civic body of Joliet.”</p></p> Fri, 05 Aug 2011 11:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/us-attorney-sues-joliet-over-housing-discrimination-90154