WBEZ | suburbs http://www.wbez.org/tags/suburbs Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Berwyn relaxes towing policy that hit immigrants especially hard http://www.wbez.org/news/berwyn-relaxes-towing-policy-hit-immigrants-especially-hard-106888 <p><p>A suburb west of Chicago is relaxing a tough car-towing policy because of its effects on immigrants.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CimagliaCROP.jpg" style="float: right; height: 371px; width: 250px;" title="Michael Cimaglia, a Berwyn police commander, met with immigrant advocates to hammer out the new policy. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />An order signed by <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/beyond-bungalows-berwyn%E2%80%99s-creative-side-105351">Berwyn</a> Police Chief James D. Ritz says the &ldquo;towing, impounding and seizing of a vehicle&rdquo; operated by an unlicensed driver &ldquo;may be decided by the use of officer discretion unless the vehicle is uninsured.&rdquo;</p><p>Berwyn officials say the order softens enforcement of a 2007 ordinance that allows the city to charge the unlicensed motorists $500, not including towing and storage costs, to recover impounded vehicles.</p><p>Berwyn was among several heavily immigrant Chicago suburbs that enacted strict towing measures before proposals to overhaul the nation&rsquo;s immigration laws stalled in Congress in 2007. The ordinances hurt immigrants who, because of their unlawful presence in the country, didn&rsquo;t qualify for an Illinois license.</p><p>&ldquo;We still don&rsquo;t condone people [breaking] the law and driving without a license,&rdquo; said Michael Cimaglia, a Berwyn police commander who met with immigrant advocates to hammer out a policy. &ldquo;However, we&rsquo;ve modified the policy so it&rsquo;s not as hard on some of the residents.&rdquo;</p><p>Berwyn now allows unlicensed motorists to turn over the car to a licensed driver or park it.</p><p>Immigrant advocates said Berwyn officials heard a message from Latino residents. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re here to stay,&rdquo; said Julie O&rsquo;Reilly Castillo of the Interfaith Leadership Project, which pressed for the policy. &ldquo;Respect us and be a little bit flexible because there are things beyond our control that leave people vulnerable.&rdquo;</p><p>Under an agreement with the advocates, Berwyn is also putting its entire police department &mdash; nearly 200 employees &mdash; through a three-hour training session focused on ethnic sensitivity. Cimaglia says the goal is more compassion for the city&rsquo;s immigrants.</p><p>About 60 percent of Berwyn&rsquo;s 56,657 residents are Latino, according to U.S. census figures. That population includes thousands &mdash; the exact number is unknown &mdash; who lack authorization to be in the United States.</p><p>The state of Illinois, meanwhile, is planning to begin issuing <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-allow-immigrants-get-licenses-105171">temporary driver&rsquo;s licenses</a> to unauthorized immigrants this fall.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 29 Apr 2013 17:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/berwyn-relaxes-towing-policy-hit-immigrants-especially-hard-106888 Oak Park's Continental Divide http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-02/oak-parks-continental-divide-105662 <p><p>Most of Chicago is flat as a pancake. That&rsquo;s why the neighborhood I grew up in was special. We had a hill. I was so impressed that when I got my first camera, I went out and took a picture from the top of its dizzy heights.</p><p>Actually, our hill wasn&rsquo;t a real hill. The rise along Narragansett Avenue was a ridge. Long ago Lake Michigan was much larger, and its waters covered most of what&rsquo;s now the city of Chicago. The ridge marked one of the ancient lake&rsquo;s beach lines.</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/Narragansett%20Hill.jpg" title="'Narragansett Hill', 1959" /></div><p>That same Narragansett ridge stretches into Oak Park. Once I became an adult, I never paid much attention to it. Then, a few years ago, I was driving west on Chicago Avenue through Oak Park. Just as I crested the ridge I saw the historic marker on the parkway to the right.&nbsp;</p><p>The marker told the story. My childhood ridge was a continental divide.&nbsp;</p><p>The ridge separates two great watersheds. The rain that falls on the east of the ridge eventually flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The rain that falls on the west of the ridge goes toward the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.&nbsp;</p><p>Chicago was settled because of its convenient location between the two great watersheds. Think of the native peoples&mdash;or Marquette and Jolliet&mdash;paddling their canoes down Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, portaging a few miles over the ridge, then catching the Des Plaines River on the way to the Mississippi. We all learned that story in Early Chicago History 101.&nbsp;</p><p>The Oak Park markers were erected through the efforts of retired architect Bill Dring. With the help of Dennis McClendon at Chicago Cartographics, he located a 1927 map that identified the ridge as a continental divide. This particular one is known as the St. Lawrence Divide, because the east-flowing waters reach the Atlantic via the St. Lawrence River.</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/03-04--Oak%20Park%20Marker.JPG" title="Oak Park's Continental Divide" /></div><p>A few spoilsports have claimed that the Oak Park ridge isn&rsquo;t an actual continental divide. Drop a bottle into the water and send it west from the ridge toward the Mississippi and the Gulf. If that bottle doesn&rsquo;t get picked up or smashed, it&rsquo;s still going to wind up in the Atlantic eventually. So what&rsquo;s the big deal?&nbsp;</p><p>I don&rsquo;t buy that argument. Over 70 percent of the earth&rsquo;s surface is water, and all of it flows together at some place or another. The continents are really nothing more than giant islands. So if you want to get hyper-technical, you have to throw out the Rocky Mountain Divide, too.&nbsp;</p><p>Most of us will never get to Four Corners, and never be able to stand in four states at once. But with very little effort, we can straddle two great watersheds. So let&rsquo;s all celebrate the Oak Park Continental Divide. &nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 05 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-02/oak-parks-continental-divide-105662 Saving a New Deal mural http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-02/saving-new-deal-mural-105320 <p><p>The New Deal is the collective name given to federal programs launched to fight the Great Depression of the 1930s. One of these was the Treasury Relief Arts Project (TRAP). The idea was to have established artists decorate existing public buildings.</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/2-13--George%20Melville%20Smith.jpg" style="width: 223px; height: 250px; float: right;" title="George Melville Smith (Frick Art Collection)" />George Melville Smith was an artist commissioned through TRAP. He painted murals in a number of buildings around the Chicago area, including the Schubert Elementary School in the city, and the post offices in Elmhurst and in Crown Point, Indiana.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In 1940 Smith completed &ldquo;Indians Cede the Land&rdquo; at the Park Ridge post office. The mural measured 6x20 feet. Depicted was an idealized scene of a Native chief and an army officer shaking hands as settlers move into a new territory. The artist received $2,000 for his work.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;Indians&quot; hung in place for thirty years. In 1970 the Park Ridge post office moved to larger quarters, and the building became headquarters for the local school district. The new tenants planned extensive redecoration. They had no use for the mural.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Enter Paul Carlson, a history teacher at Maine South High School. He found out that the New Deal mural was going to be thrown away. Along with a few students he removed the painting from the wall and rolled it up. He stored it in his home.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Carlson had saved a historic piece of artwork from destruction. But he wasn&rsquo;t a conservator. The mural had already gone through various indignities during its public display. Now, over the long years in storage, &ldquo;Indians&rdquo; gradually deteriorated.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Paul Carlson died in 2008. After his death, the Carlson family presented the mural to the Park Ridge Public Library. I&rsquo;m on the library&rsquo;s Board of Trustees.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2-13--Post%20Office%20Mural.jpg" title="'Indians Cede the Land' by Smith (Park Ridge Mural Restoration Committee)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">We were happy to receive the mural. The big question was whether it could be restored. After shopping around, we found out that restoration was possible. The cost would be about $40,000&mdash;which we couldn&rsquo;t afford.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Three of our trustees formed an independent committee to solicit donations from the public. The committee also received a grant from the Park Ridge Historical Society. Last year the fund-raising goal was reached. Work began on bringing the mural back to life.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Now restoration is complete. On February 23, George Melville Smith&rsquo;s &ldquo;Indians Cede the Land&rdquo; goes on permanent display at the Park Ridge Public Library, 20 South Prospect Avenue in Park Ridge. Once again, public art will be available to the public.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 12 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-02/saving-new-deal-mural-105320 Forget Poles: Palestinians find a home in suburban Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/forget-poles-palestinians-find-home-suburban-chicago-105416 <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/Laila%20Grape%20Vine%20small.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Laila Maali has owned Grape Vine in Orland Park for nine years. Maali, who is part of the region's large Palestinian diaspora, has lived in the U.S. for 26 years. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" /></div><p>Chicagoans are fond of saying that there are more Poles here than anywhere outside of Poland. But ask about Palestinians and you may get a blank stare. As it turns out, there are likely more Palestinian immigrants living in the Chicagoland area than anywhere else in the U.S.<br /><br />The nexus of Arab American life in the Chicago region is the city&rsquo;s Southwest suburbs. Bridgeview, the oldest and most established of the area&rsquo;s Muslim community, is seen as the hub, but the community also extends to neighboring towns like Oak Lawn and Orland Park.<br /><br />When listeners learned that reporter Michael Puente and I planned to visit Orland Park this week, they asked us to look into the town&rsquo;s diverse population. &ldquo;I work out in Orland and I&#39;d be interested to hear you address the large Arabic populations here,&rdquo; listener Eric Olsen told us. &ldquo;Where are they from?&rdquo;<br /><br /><strong>Lunch in Little Beitunia (or Big Beitunia, as the case may be)</strong><br /><br />We started our research with a visit to <a href="http://grapevine-orlandpark.com/">Grape Vine</a>, a small storefront grocery and bakery on John Humphrey Drive. It was lunchtime, and the sun filtered in onto shelves lined with pita bread and pickled cucumbers, red lentils and Royal World Tea, bags of rice and jars of butter ghee. Aluminum trays of savory pastries and stout, cigar-shaped falafel sat on the counter. Grape Vine&rsquo;s owner, Laila Maali, stood behind the cash register in a navy blue blouse and loosely draped black hijab, rattling off phone orders from catering customers in a quick mix of Arabic and English.<br /><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/lunch%20Grape%20Vine%20small.jpg" style="float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="The Grape Vine in Orland Park carries a variety of middle eastern groceries -- pita bread, red lentils, butter ghee, pickled cucumbers -- as well as some pretty tasty falafel! (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" />While we chatted with Maali, Edward Hassan walked inside. Hassan was smartly dressed in leather gloves and a wool overcoat, and told us that he owned seven strip malls in the area, including the one we were in. The vanity plates on his white Mercedes Benz read LND LRD.<br /><br />Both Maali and Hassan immigrated to the U.S. from Beitunia (sometimes spelled Baytunya), a town roughly eight miles outside Ramallah in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. Maali said she has lived in the Chicago area for 26 years, while Hassan said he came to the U.S. as a child with his parents 50 years ago, first settling in Chicago at 63rd and Halsted then moving to the suburbs.<br /><br />It was Hassan who first tipped us off to the sheer number of Palestinians living southwest of Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;There are 23,000 people living here from Beitunia,&rdquo; he told us, much to our surprise. &ldquo;And only 2,000 back in Beitunia.&rdquo;<br /><br /><strong>How many people of Palestinian descent actually live in the region?</strong><br /><br />The truth is more complicated, but surprising nonetheless. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, there were closer to 20,000 people living in Beitunia as of 2007. But sociologist <a href="http://www.marquette.edu/socs/cainkar.shtml">Louise Cainkar</a>, a professor at Marquette University and an expert on Arab immigration, backs up the underlying thrust of Hassan&rsquo;s claim.</p><p>&ldquo;Historically Beitunia was the largest feeder village [of Palestinian immigrants] to Chicago,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Cainkar has spent time in Beitunia and has seen the results of this relationship.</p><p>&ldquo;[The village]used to be characterized by agriculture, but is now quite built up,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Cainkar says the investment from money made in the U.S. and sent back to the village in the form of remittances is visible.<br /><br />Cainkar estimates that as many as a quarter of all Palestinians living in the U.S. live in the counties surrounding Chicago &mdash; more than live any other American city. And, Palestinians make up the single largest Arab ethnic group in the Chicago region, according to Cainkar &mdash; as much as 40 percent of the area&rsquo;s total Arab population. &nbsp;<br /><br />It&rsquo;s actually quite difficult, though, to measure exactly how many people of Palestinian descent live in the Chicago area. And it&rsquo;s hard to know how many people of Arab descent there are in the country as a whole. Nationally, the 2010 U.S. Census found that about 1.9 million Americans are of Arab descent, although groups like the Arab American Institute estimate that the number could be much larger, as high as 5.1 million people. It&rsquo;s a similar story in Illinois; the Census found about 85,000 people of Arab descent living in the state, but again, the AAI thinks the number is much higher, closer to 220,000 total.<br /><br />Cainkar thinks the real number of Arab Americans living in the U.S. &mdash; and in Illinois &mdash; is probably somewhere in the middle of those estimates, but agrees that the Census misses a lot of people.</p><p>The short version of the Census &mdash; given to 82 percent of people who take it &mdash; only measures race, and Arabs are supposed to mark themselves down as white. The 18 percent of people who take the longer version of the survey are asked questions about their &ldquo;ancestry.&rdquo; In 2010, of the people who indicated they were of Arab ancestry, five percent described themselves as being of Palestinian descent. But another 11 percent said they were &ldquo;Other, Arab&rdquo; and another 15 percent said they were &ldquo;Arab/Arabic.&rdquo;</p><p>Cainkar&rsquo;s research suggests that many of these respondents are actually Palestinian, too.</p><p>&ldquo;I looked at the Census tracts block by block, based on where people live,&rdquo; she said, adding that many Chicago communities she knows to be Palestinian weren&rsquo;t counted as such.<br /><br />Regardless of the exact number of Arab Americans living in Chicago&rsquo;s Southwest suburbs, their presence is clear, whether in the Prayer Center, the Orland Park mosque with a glowing gold dome and colorful tile walls built in 2004, or the sheer number of businesses that cater to Middle Eastern tastes.</p><p>&ldquo;I counted 100 Arab-owned businesses in less than one square mile between 79th and 87th and Harlem, and that&rsquo;s just a little piece of their commercial enterprises down there,&rdquo; Cainkar said of one portion of the Southwest Side community. &ldquo;That is definitely their hub.&rdquo;<br /><br /><strong>So why Chicago?</strong><br /><br />What, then, drew Palestinian immigrants and other Arabs to the region to begin with? As is the case with so many elements of Chicago history, Cainkar said the answer lies in the 1893 World&rsquo;s Columbian Exhibition. The fair brought travelers and presenters from all over the globe, including Arab traders who liked the region and found a market here for their goods.<br /><br />That started the first wave of Arab immigration to the U.S., which was followed by many more. And because U.S. immigration policy is focused on family reunification, once a family had one member settled permanently in the U.S., more were likely to follow.<br /><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Prayer%20Center%20Orland%20Park%20small.jpg" style="float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="The Prayer Center, a mosque in Orland Park, was built in 2004, as more area Muslims moved to town. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" />Of course, the answer to why there are nearly as many Palestinians living abroad as there are still living in Palestine &mdash; about 4.5 million &mdash; lies in that region&rsquo;s troubled history. Many left or were forced out starting in 1948 with the creation of the state of Israel, an event many Palestinians refer to as the &ldquo;Nakba&rdquo; or &ldquo;disaster.&rdquo; (At the time, many Jews were also expelled from or chose to leave their homes in neighboring Arab countries.) Subsequent conflicts, like the 1967 war, prompted subsequent waves of immigration.<br /><br />But Cainkar said the biggest wave of Palestinian immigration to the U.S. came in the 1980s and &lsquo;90s. Many who came were not immigrants but students, Cainkar said, earning advanced degrees.</p><p>Many of those same students-turned-engineers, say, went on to live in Persian Gulf states, drawn by the promise of good paying jobs funded with oil boom money. But 350,000 Palestinians were expelled from Kuwait and other Gulf states in 1990 after the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) refused to back foreign intervention as a solution to Iraq&rsquo;s occupation of Kuwait. Cainkar said that for many of these Palestinians, &ldquo;this meant their only other option for survival was the U.S.&rdquo;<br /><br /><strong>Putting down roots</strong><br /><br />Arab Americans have been subjected to much unwanted scrutiny since 9/11 turned &ldquo;Islamic extremism&rdquo; into a household term that fueled fear &mdash; the 2004 struggle over the Prayer Center in Orland Park is certainly evidence of that &mdash; and Palestinians carry with them a particularly painful history of struggle.</p><p>But Cainkar said that as a whole, America&rsquo;s Arab population, including the entrepreneurial Palestinian community in Chicago&rsquo;s Southwest suburbs, is thriving.</p><p>&ldquo;Overall Arab income in the U.S. is higher than the median income of the U.S. as a whole,&rdquo; Cainkar said. &ldquo;Usually groups that face discrimination don&rsquo;t do well in this country, but they&#39;re an exception to this pattern.&rdquo;<br /><br />Back at Grape Vine, property owner Edward Hassan talked not just of his business investments, but of his childhood in Chicago and his service during Vietnam. Hassan said he founded an Arab American veterans group that has over 200 area members, some of whom served in the Korean War.<br /><br />&ldquo;We didn&rsquo;t just get off the boat,&rdquo; he told us. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re American.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 07 Feb 2013 16:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/forget-poles-palestinians-find-home-suburban-chicago-105416 Chicago's Rosemont Corridor http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-01/chicagos-rosemont-corridor-105151 <p><p>You can find a little bit of Chicago in the strangest places.</p><p>In 1945 the federal government transferred 1,080 acres of land near Mannheim and Higgins to the City of Chicago. The site was to be used for a new commercial airfield, the future O&rsquo;Hare.</p><p>Though Chicago held title to the airport land, the site itself was a few miles beyond the city limits. That fact might cause legal complications--could&nbsp;the Chicago police even issue parking tickets?&nbsp;Early in 1956, the city council opened hearings on annexing unincorporated land between the city and the airport.</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/Foster%20corridor.JPG" title="Foster Avenue--Chicago's 'Rosemont Corridor'" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Part of the plan was to annex forest preserve&nbsp;acreage along the Des Plaines River. The Cook County Board was controlled by Chicago Democrats, so that would be easily done.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">At the same time, the city was going to annex a 66-foot-wide strip of Higgins Road. This narrow corridor would stretch from the&nbsp;existing Chicago border (Canfield Avenue) to the airport land (Mannheim Road). Chicago would then have a physical link with O&rsquo;Hare.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Meanwhile,&nbsp;out on the prairie, the homesteaders in Park Ridge and Des Plaines were alarmed. Those city slickers were invading their territory. What would happen to their peaceful country&nbsp;lives?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Now both Park Ridge and Des Plaines began their own annexations, trying to block Chicago&rsquo;s land grab. The newly-incorporated village of Rosemont followed suit. To help things along, Leyden Township officials volunteered to co-ordinate the new suburban&nbsp;borders.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago&nbsp;wasn&rsquo;t about to let a few little hamlets interfere with the greater good of his city. Daley&nbsp;met behind closed doors with officials from the rebellious suburbs on March 28<sup>th</sup>. When the meeting ended,&nbsp;the mayor&nbsp;announced that the matter was settled, and the Chicago annexation would go forward.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">By virtue of that strip along Higgins&mdash;which was only 33-feet wide in some places&mdash;O&rsquo;Hare was now connected to the City of Chicago. But the solution was only temporary. In 1959, in a different case, the Illinois Supreme Court questioned the legality of such &ldquo;shoestring&rdquo; annexations.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Otto Avenue looking toward Rosemont.JPG" title="Otto Avenue in Chicago, view toward Rosemont border" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Daley didn&rsquo;t wait for the court to take up the Higgins annexation.&nbsp; He reached a deal with Rosemont to swop the Higgins strip for a 185-foot wide strip along Foster Avenue, on Rosemont&rsquo;s southern border. Now the matter really was settled.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Today there&rsquo;s nothing to identify the little corridor along Foster as part of Chicago, except for a few city street lights. The old suburban street signs are still in place. And in a final bit of irony, the Rosemont land to the north has undergone massive redevelopment, while the Chicago land is occupied by single-story industrial buildings.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 04 Feb 2013 07:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-01/chicagos-rosemont-corridor-105151 2-1-1982: Chicago suburb outlaws guns! http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-01/2-1-1982-chicago-suburb-outlaws-guns-105086 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2-1--street.JPG" title="'First in service, First in safety.' [Morton Grove motto]" /></p><p>Thirty-one years ago today, the eyes of the country were on Morton Grove, Ill. The quiet northern suburb had enacted the most restrictive handgun law in America. This was the first day under the new law. &nbsp;</p><p>The story had begun in 1980, when someone applied for a license to open a gun store in the village. The matter went to the Board of Trustees. In June 1981 the Board passed an ordinance banning gun sales. While they were at it, they also approved a measure outlawing the possession of handguns.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Of course, the U.S. Constitution said that &ldquo;the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.&rdquo; The Board knew that the law would be challenged. The Morton Grove police were instructed to hold any surrendered guns for five years, in case the law was overturned.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The lawsuits came. The original enforcement date&ndash;September 6, 1981&ndash;was postponed. In December the U.S. District Court upheld the Morton Grove ban. The Board then announced that the law would go into effect on February 1, 1982.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">On the morning of the big day, reporters, photographers, and TV news crews staked out the Village Hall police station. At 8:15 a resident came in with three rusty handguns in a shopping bag. He&rsquo;d wanted to get rid of the guns for a long time, but didn&rsquo;t know how to go about it.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">A few minutes later, a second man arrived. He was surrendering a .22-caliber pistol. &ldquo;This would be your Saturday night special,&rdquo; an official helpfully told the reporters.</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/2-1--police station.JPG" title="Morton Grove's gun depository" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image ">The day went on. The news people waited. In the middle of the afternoon, a third man appeared. He dropped off a small-caliber pistol and some ammo.&nbsp;</div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">One of the reporters asked the deputy police chief how future violations would be treated. &ldquo;We would hand out an ordinance ticket, just like a parking violation,&rdquo; the chief said. The weapon would also be confiscated.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The Village Hall closed at 5 p.m. A total of five guns had been collected.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The&nbsp;mayor of Morton Grove had been following the news coverage on TV. He said he wasn&rsquo;t disappointed by the small number of guns. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a drop in the bucket,&rdquo; he conceded. &ldquo;[But] who the heck can tell how many guns there are?&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Because of later court decisions, Morton Grove repealed much of its handgun ban in 2008.</div></p> Fri, 01 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-01/2-1-1982-chicago-suburb-outlaws-guns-105086 The post-recession apartment class abandons suburban office parks http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-08/post-recession-apartment-class-abandons-suburban-office-parks-101669 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/iDanSimpson.jpg" style="height: 334px; width: 620px; " title="An office park in Barrington, IL (Flickr/iDanSimpson)" /></div><p>Once upon a time, there were thousands of young Illinoisans actively looking for jobs in the suburbs with good schools for their kids or soon-to-be-kids, low taxes, and jobs they could drive to easily. They spawned the birth of the office park, large, heavily landscaped campuses with gyms and cafeterias that, before the recession, were often filled to capacity.<br /><br />But now, in many towns, those campuses stand empty. With an inkling that the recession might be behind us, those companies seeking to reopen or expand are looking at downtown offices. It&rsquo;s not just that more business is happening in denser urban areas these days, although that&rsquo;s true. According to <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em> reporter David Roeder, it&rsquo;s also an issue of image. People would rather work in, &ldquo;a spiffy downtown address in a building of note.&rdquo;<br /><br />Others say the trend is potentially temporary. While it&rsquo;s true the rising professional generation does by and large prefer the apartment lifestyle, the bottom line is that yields are higher in the &lsquo;burbs where property comes cheaper, according to the <em><a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304584404576442121473072328.html">Wall Street Journal</a>. </em><br /><br />A turnaround would &nbsp;be good news for the towns that sprung up around these office parks. Hoffman Estates, about 30 miles from downtown Chicago, recently lost both Sears and AT&amp;T. They were the village&rsquo;s number one and number two employers, respectively. Areas that rely upon office parks housing pharmaceutical companies and other industries that require space have more insulation, says Roeder, but not much. He suggests that those communities left with thousands of square feet of real estate consider converting them to community colleges or hospitals.<br /><br />There&rsquo;s no way of knowing now if the trend will last, but Chicago will see Motorola Mobility make itself at home downtown in the next few weeks, and rumor has it that Sara Lee is considering a move back as well. Roeder, along with Elk Grove President Craig Johnson, will stop &nbsp;by <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> on Monday to talk about what&rsquo;s happening to suburban office parks with WBEZ business reporter Niala Boodhoo.</p></p> Mon, 13 Aug 2012 08:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-08/post-recession-apartment-class-abandons-suburban-office-parks-101669 Skokie and the Nazis http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-04/skokie-and-nazis-98448 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP7707041203.jpg" style="height: 417px; width: 620px;" title="Members of the Jewish Defense League donned helmets as they arrived in Skokie, Ill. on July 4, 1977 to demonstrate against the Nazis, who called off their march when they failed to get a permit. (AP/CEK) "></div><p>Thirty-five years ago today, Skokie officials were in court. They were trying to prevent Nazis from holding a rally in their village.</p><p>The National Socialist Party of America was a tiny group of perhaps a hundred people. They were led by a man named Frank Collin. The party had headquarters in the Marquette Park area of Chicago, where they’d been protesting African-American presence in the neighborhood.</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/04-27--Nazi%20Headquarters--Rockwell%20Hall.jpg" title="Nazi headquarters in Marquette Park, 1977"></div><div><p>In the spring of 1977, Chicago officials banned the Nazis from speaking in the park. Looking for publicity, the party then announced it would hold a rally in Skokie on May 1. More than half of the suburb’s 80,000 residents were Jewish. Many of these people were Holocaust survivors, or relatives of Hitler’s victims.</p></div><p>Now a lawsuit was being filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Skokie alleged that the proposed demonstration was “a deliberate and willful attempt to exacerbate the sensitivities of the Jewish population.” The event would incite racial and religious hatred in the village.</p><p>The next day, Judge Joseph M. Wosik granted an injunction to halt the rally. Jewish groups were already organizing counter-demonstrations against the Nazis. The judge said he was acting to prevent possible violence.</p><div><p>Nazi leader Collin did not like the ruling. He said his free speech rights were being violated. He threatened to lead a march through Skokie, regardless of any court action.</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/04-27--Skokie%20today.JPG" title="Downtown Skokie today"></div></div><div><p>The Skokie lawsuit was only the beginning of the legal maneuvers. The village next passed a series of ordinances designed to limit hate groups. The Nazis responded by going to court with their own suit.</p></div><p>The Nazi case was supported by the American Civil Liberties Union. The organization had a large Jewish membership, and their lawyer handling the Nazi case was Jewish. Still, the ACLU saw the matter as an important free speech issue.</p><div><p>After a year of various hearings, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the Skokie ordinances unconstitutional. The village was ordered to allow the Nazi demonstration. Collin said his group would rally in front of the Skokie Village Hall on June 25, 1978.</p></div><div><p>And then, at the last minute, the Nazis called off the Skokie rally. The City of Chicago had decided to let the party march in the Loop. That event proved to be a bust, lasting all of 10 minutes.</p></div><p>The Nazi controversy was dramatized in a 1981 TV-movie titled “Skokie.” Nazi leader Frank Collin himself was later forced out of the party–when it was discovered that he was Jewish.</p></p> Fri, 27 Apr 2012 08:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-04/skokie-and-nazis-98448 Charles Gates Dawes: The forgotten man and his home http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-12-19/charles-gates-dawes-forgotten-man-and-his-home-94793 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-December/2011-12-19/AP360609012.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>"Once upon a time there were two brothers. One of them went to sea, and the other became Vice President of the United States. Neither of them was ever heard of again."</p><p>That's an old vaudeville joke, and it always got a laugh. It was true enough. Charles Gates Dawes was our 30th vice president, and he lived right here in Illinois. But unless you're from Evanston, you probably never heard of the guy.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="326" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-10/12-19--Dawes House.jpg" title="Chicago History Happened Here: 225 Greenwood St. (Evanston)" width="490"></p><p>Dawes was born in Ohio in 1865, became a lawyer, and practiced in Nebraska for a while. Then he got into banking and Republican politics. In 1909 he moved into the house at 225 Greenwood Street in Evanston.</p><p>During World War I, Dawes was a brigadier general in charge of procurement. He was called before a congressional committee investigating waste. The questions became heated, and he finally exploded. "Hell and Maria, we weren't keeping a set of books!" he yelled. "We were trying to win the war!" The newspapers loved it, and he became known as Hell-and-Maria Dawes.</p><p>(<em>We will pause here to ponder what Dawes meant by "Hell and Maria." Does anybody cuss like that today?</em>)</p><p>After the war Dawes went to work in the Harding Administration. He was Budget Director, and was later put in charge of German reparations payments. Because they'd lost the war, Germany had to pay billions of dollars to the victors.</p><p>So Dawes came up with the Dawes Plan, which worked something like this--(1) U.S. loaned money to Germany, (2) Germany used the money to pay reparations to Britain and France, and (3) Britain and France sent the money back to U.S. to pay their own war debt.</p><p>If you're not an international banker, this may sound like an odd way of doing business. But the plan did win Dawes the Nobel Peace Prize.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="330" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-11/12-19--C.G. Dawes.jpg" title="C.G. Dawes (Library of Congress)" width="270"></p><p>In 1924 Calvin Coolidge was president, and running for re-election. Party leaders wanted someone from swing-state Illinois on the ticket. After ex-Governor Frank Lowden turned down the VP slot, Dawes was selected. He delivered his acceptance speech from the porch of the house on Greenwood.</p><p>Coolidge and Dawes won the election. After that the two men didn't get along. It didn't help when Vice President Dawes missed a crucial tie-breaking vote in the Senate. He was back in his hotel, taking a nap.</p><p>After his single term as vice president, Dawes was ambassador to Britain, then returned to banking. He died in 1951. Today his Evanston home is a museum.</p><p>Dawes was also an amateur composer. His "Melody in A Major" was often played as his theme song at political gatherings. Lyrics were added to the original Dawes music later, and in 1958 Tommy Edwards's recording "It's All in the Game" reached #1 on the <em>Billboard </em>chart. Can Cheney or Biden match that?</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/akbfXUA08OY" width="480"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 19 Dec 2011 11:45:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-12-19/charles-gates-dawes-forgotten-man-and-his-home-94793 Suburbanites feel sting of Emanuel's budget http://www.wbez.org/story/suburbanites-feel-sting-emanuels-budget-93904 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-09/ParkingGarage_Flickr_SamDickey.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel, when introducing his first budget, declared that people who use city services need to pay for them, "even if they are not residents of Chicago."</p><p>That rationale has allowed Emanuel to deflect some criticism from his budget proposal, by reminding aldermen that he's spreading out the pain. An increase to the hotel tax is just one of Emanuel's revenue schemes that'll hit visitors to the city. As part of our coverage this week of the new mayor's budget, we look at the suburban impact.</p><p>Izetta McGee drives downtown from Oak Park nearly every weekday, and she pays dearly to park.</p><p>"Three hundred dollars a month, which is cheap within the Loop area," McGee said.</p><p>It's likely to get a bit less cheap. Emanuel's budget includes a $2 per-weekday tax increase that'll affect the city's most expensive parking areas.</p><p>"That's a lot," McGee said. "When you think about it, that's $40 a month."</p><p>And $480 more each year on McGee's parking bill.</p><p>Emanuel is calling this a "congestion premium." It'll raise cash to pay for some public transit improvements and bike lanes, and - the mayor said - discourage folks from driving downtown.</p><p>"I really don't have a choice," said McGee, who is a court reporter. "On any given day, I could have to be in Chicago, I might have to be in Schaumburg. I might have to be in Markham. And you know a lot of times I'm downtown and somebody will say, 'Can you come to Markham?' So I have to have my car. I have to have my car."</p><p>The parking tax hike isn't the only part of Chicago's budget that could sting suburbanites. McGee's hometown of Oak Park is one of more than 100 communities that get Lake Michigan water from Chicago. They'll all be affected by the city's plan to finance infrastructure work by just about doubling what Chicago charges them for water over the next four years.</p><p>In the first year alone, "You're talking about an average cost to an average Oak Park resident of 80-to-100 dollars a year," said Tom Barwin, Oak Park village manager.</p><p>Barwin sent Chicago a letter protesting the rapid increase in water fees, but hasn't heard back.</p><p>The good news on this front for Izetta McGee is she rents her apartment, and doesn't have to pay the water bill. But she expects her landlord to use it as a reason to raise her rent.</p><p>"Oh yeah," she said, laughing. "That's what business is all about."</p><p>And as for that higher parking tax McGee would have to pay, she said she may just pass it on to her customers.</p></p> Thu, 10 Nov 2011 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/suburbanites-feel-sting-emanuels-budget-93904