WBEZ | Chicago http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Wildsounds: The conversation between a city and nature http://www.wbez.org/news/wildsounds-conversation-between-city-and-nature-111435 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/wildsounds.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>When environmental science professor Liam Heneghan moved to Chicago, he noticed something surprising.</p><p>The farther he got away from the city, the harder it was to find interesting habitats to study, because there was just a lot of farmland.&nbsp; He found less of the protected forest preserves or even parks you see inside the city limits.</p><p>&ldquo;Strangely, Chicago is the place you go, that you deliberately seek out if you want to do conservation in the midwest.&rdquo; Heneghan said. &ldquo;That blows my mind.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<br />So when Heneghan discovered a project that set out to record nature sounds across the world, he wanted to make sure cities were a part of it.&nbsp; He has been recording, alongside his students, in Chicago for about a year.</p><p>By listening to nature sounds in the city, researchers have learned the complex way that human noise makes animals change the way they sound; from insects that shift their pitch to be heard over traffic, to birds that sing at different times of day.</p><p>But Heneghan does not want the message of the recordings to be that people sounds are bad. He wants this project to help the rest of Chicago have that same experience he did when he first moved here.</p><p>When they listen, he wants them to notice how much nature is right here &mdash; outside their apartments and office buildings, beside highways and train lines.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/shannon_h" target="_blank">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/wildsounds-conversation-between-city-and-nature-111435 When is Chicago-area traffic the worst? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/when-chicago-area-traffic-worst-111374 <p><p>Traffic. It&rsquo;s something utterly mundane and expected, but when you&rsquo;re inching through a major city on a car or bus, road congestion can be a kind of personal hell.</p><p>&ldquo;I feel like a terrible commute is only terrible to the person who&rsquo;s living it,&rdquo; observes our question-asker, Esther Bowen. She&rsquo;s a resident of Chicago&rsquo;s Bucktown neighborhood who commutes about 45 minutes each way to her job in suburban Lemont. That&rsquo;s provided plenty of time for her to formulate this question for Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What factors influence daily, weekly, and seasonal traffic patterns in the Chicagoland region?</em></p><p>If you can&rsquo;t sympathize with Esther, you should know that traffic affects you, even if you don&rsquo;t drive or ride the bus. All the congestion on Chicago-area roads sucked up more than $6 billion in wasted time and fuel in 2011, according to the Texas A&amp;M Transportation Institute. That&rsquo;s third among the 101 metro areas they assessed.</p><p>Of course, a lot of that wasted time is in what commuters like Esther might consider &ldquo;typical&rdquo; traffic jams. And that&rsquo;s how we&rsquo;re going to help her: by laying out what the &ldquo;expected&rdquo; traffic patterns actually are. We&rsquo;ll then have officials and researchers account for these variations, as well as what contributes to road congestion in the first place.</p><p>We can&rsquo;t guarantee that this information will necessarily make Esther or any other commuter happy to be on the road, but maybe it can steer folks clear of any traffic-induced personal hell.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Traffic pattern: A typical day, measured hour by hour </span></p><div class="image-insert-image ">It&rsquo;s no secret that the length of your commute can depend on what time you start it. Citing <a href="http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/congsymp/sld004.htm" target="_blank">data from the Federal Highway Administration and elsewhere</a>, the Texas Transportation Institute&rsquo;s Bill Eisele says bottlenecks &mdash; simply more drivers on the roads than the roads can accommodate &mdash; are responsible for about 40 percent of all traffic congestion nationwide.</div><p>But when it comes to a typical day in the Chicago area, when do drivers hit the heaviest traffic?</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.dot.state.il.us/transportation-system/Network-Overview/highway-system/illinois-travel-statistics" target="_blank">Figures from the Illinois Department of Transportation</a> show that on average, the hours ending at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m have the highest share of the day&rsquo;s traffic on Northeastern Illinois&rsquo; interstate highways. The worst morning hour, which is not as heavy as the afternoon peak, is from 7 to 8 a.m.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><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/traffic by hour2.png" title="This chart depicts the most congested travel times in Northeastern Illinois. Peak hours are between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., and between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., with afternoon rush hour being generally more congested than morning rush hour. AADT means annual average daily traffic, collected from 18 sites throughout the region between 2010 and 2013 by the Illinois Department of Transportation. Click to learn more about the data." /></div></div></div><p>Why is the morning rush hour generally lighter than the afternoon-evening rush hours? <a href="http://nhts.ornl.gov/2009/pub/stt.pdf" target="_blank">Citing data from the Federal Highway Administration</a>, Nebiyou Tilahun, an assistant professor of urban planning at the University of Illinois Chicago, says it&rsquo;s because people are doing more than just commuting in the afternoon.</p><p>&ldquo;In percentage terms, commuting dominates over other types of trips in the morning. In the afternoon, it is one of several trip types that congest the roadway. Family and personal trips as well as social/recreation trips are made with more or almost equal frequency,&rdquo; he says.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Traffic pattern: A typical week, measured day by day</span></p><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/traffic by day3.png" title="This chart depicts traffic trends by day in Northeastern Illinois. The red line indicates the annual average daily traffic, so any value higher than the bar represents higher than average travel times and vice versa. Click to learn more about the data." /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><p>The discrepancy between morning and evening rush hours is even most pronounced on Friday, which IDOT says is generally the heaviest traffic day of the week in the Chicago area.</p><p>&ldquo;Thursday and Friday tend to be our worst p.m. rush hours,&rdquo; says IDOT&rsquo;s Matt Daeda. &ldquo;Oddly enough, we&rsquo;ve noticed in the past few years during the summer months our a.m. [Friday] rush hour tends to be a lot lighter than the other days of the week.&rdquo;</p><p>They think that&rsquo;s due to people taking long weekends, working from home, or otherwise shifting toward a four-day work week in the summer months. IDOT Spokeswoman Carson Quinn says they&rsquo;re seeing this pattern start to emerge on summer Thursdays, too.</p><p>Seattle-based traffic data firm INRIX agrees that Friday evening&rsquo;s commute is the single worst of Chicago&rsquo;s week. But the Chicago area&rsquo;s worst commute day overall &ldquo;is a toss-up between Wednesday and Thursday,&rdquo; according to spokesman Jim Bak.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Traffic pattern: A typical year, measured month by month</span></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/traffic by month3.png" title="This chart depicts traffic trends by day in Northeastern Illinois based on data collected between 2010 and 2013 by the Illinois Department of Transportation. Click to learn more about the data. " /></div><p>Summer is the worst season for Chicago-area traffic, in part because of the increase in construction work. According to Bill Eisele of the Texas Transportation Institute, construction is the fourth-leading cause of road congestion and is responsible for 10 percent of traffic jams nationwide.</p><p>IDOT says average weekday traffic increases on all of the Chicago area&rsquo;s major highways during the summer, but by different amounts. The Stevenson (I-55) sees the biggest jump, with as much as 12 percent more traffic, while traffic on the Eisenhower (I-290) only increases by 3 percent. The Kennedy and Edens (I-90 and I-94) get 8 and 11 percent more clogged, respectively.</p><p>But fall also sees a significant uptick in travel times. Jim Bak, a spokesman for INRIX, relays this office adage about seasonal traffic patterns: &ldquo;Back to school, back to work, back to traffic.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;On a seasonal basis, the biggest impact is school schedules,&rdquo; says Bak. &ldquo;Nationally, it can increase traffic congestion levels by up to 15 percent. In Chicago we see an annual lift of up to 10 percent.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">What about reverse commutes?</span></p><p>As a city dweller who treks out to the suburbs during business hours, our question-asker, Esther, is a so-called reverse commuter. Suburban development and job growth has taken off in recent decades. <a href="http://www.npr.org/2013/10/29/241350699/reverse-commutes-now-often-a-daily-slog-too" target="_blank">That has created a surge in urbanites with suburban occupations</a>, like Esther. So, naturally, she wants to know if her increasingly common arrangement results in less traffic compared to the traditional commute from the suburbs to the city.</p><p>&ldquo;In general the traditional commute still is heaviest, more often than not,&rdquo; says IDOT&rsquo;s Carson Quinn. But that&rsquo;s not the case for all local expressways. On the Edens Expressway (I-94), for example, northbound traffic is heaviest in the morning while southbound is worst in the evening, suggesting a flow of traffic away from downtown for the workday. The Kennedy (I-90) is the same.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">What contributes to traffic?</span></p><p>So that&rsquo;s the basic answer to Esther Bowen&rsquo;s questions about Chicago&rsquo;s worst hours, days and seasons for traffic. But what are the general factors that influence traffic patterns?</p><p>According to the Federal Highway Administration, the major contributors are what you might expect: Bottlenecks, or just the sheer number of cars on the road, make up 40 percent of congestion nationwide. Traffic accidents and related slow-downs cause about 25 percent, while bad weather is responsible for 15 percent of lurching road travel. Construction is the last major cause, at 10 percent. The remaining 10 percent is due to things like poor signal timing, special events (like sports games and festivals) and other lesser factors.</p><p>Chicago doesn&rsquo;t deviate much from that national average, according to Steve Travia &mdash; he&rsquo;s IDOT&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.dot.state.il.us/about-idot/idot-regions/idot-region-1/index" target="_blank">District 1</a> bureau chief for traffic, responsible for overseeing traffic management and reporting in the six-county greater Chicago area. Traffic engineers at IDOT&rsquo;s District 1 headquarters monitor regional traffic on a bevy of video and computer monitors, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/how-do-reversible-lanes-kennedy-expressway-work-101384" target="_blank">switching the direction of express lanes</a> and dispatching crews to clear accidents.</p><p>Bottlenecks and the like are perennial leaders in causing congestion, a fact he says is due to some basic physics.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a break point. There&rsquo;s a capacity limit of how many cars will truly fit on a lane of pavement,&rdquo; says Travia. Depending on the types of vehicles, traffic signals, topography and other factors (beyond just the size of the road), that capacity can vary. But as you approach what IDOT calls &ldquo;saturation,&rdquo; traffic will begin to slow down. People can change their driving habits to a certain point but, Travia says, &ldquo;then you hit that magic number. ... And that&rsquo;s when it breaks down. That&rsquo;s when you start to get that accordion effect.&rdquo;</p><p>Traffic engineers call that &ldquo;disrupted flow&rdquo;, and it ripples out quickly. In fact, Travia says, every minute an accident blocks a lane of traffic adds roughly three minutes of congestion on that highway.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/when-chicago-area-traffic-worst-111374#jindra"><strong>Related: Guide to decoding traffic reports</strong></a></p><p>What about weather? It seems, given our polar vortices and generally volatile weather, Chicagoans would see weather higher up in the relative breakdown of Chicago&rsquo;s traffic factors. But Kermit Wies, deputy executive director for research and analysis at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, says it appears only about 13 percent of Chicago&rsquo;s traffic congestion occurs when the weather is wet, snowy or icy. So while <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/just-how-bad-chicago-winter-109637">those long winters can be brutal</a>, and they do help to clog the roadways, they&rsquo;re not game-changers when it comes to the broadest traffic patterns.</p><p>There are also surprising forces behind traffic patterns.</p><p>&ldquo;If people have jobs, they have money to spend, resulting in not only more commuter traffic but also more traffic in general as people go out to have dinner, to shop, go to a movie or cultural event, etc.,&rdquo; says INRIX&rsquo;s Jim Bak. &ldquo;Even now when more people tend to shop online, the product eventually has to get to your house from a distribution center &mdash; that happens on a truck.&rdquo; &nbsp;That means more raw materials are being delivered to manufacturing plants, and more freight to stores as they replenish inventory to keep up with increased consumer demand.</p><p>Freight traffic also impacts Chicago&rsquo;s commuters directly. The Texas Transportation Institute&rsquo;s Bill Eisele put it optimistically: &ldquo;Chicago is an exciting, dynamic, multi-modal town.&rdquo; But that also means motorists in the Chicago area, which sees up to a quarter of the entire nation&rsquo;s freight traffic, have to deal with the added congestion of trucks and train crossings. TTI&rsquo;s Urban Mobility Report estimates truck congestion alone cost Chicago more than $1.7 billion in lost time and fuel in 2011, the most recent year for which they&rsquo;ve crunched the numbers.</p><p>Infrastructure improvements could help ease that pain, Eisele says, as could an increase in public transit ridership.</p><p>&ldquo;For critical high-volume routes (like expressways),&rdquo; says Kermit Wies, of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, &ldquo;traffic managers will use <a href="http://www.travelmidwest.com/lmiga/home.jsp" target="_blank">Intelligent Transportation Systems</a> (ITS) such as in-road sensors and cameras to make real-time decisions to close ramps and upstream lanes, issue signboard messages or media blasts in an effort to keep delays to a minimum.&rdquo;</p><p>That response is improving constantly, building on a general slump in miles driven per capita.</p><p>In Cook County,<a href="http://www.dot.state.il.us/Assets/uploads/files/Transportation-System/Reports/OP&amp;P/Travel-Stats/Illinois%20Travel%20Statistics%202013.pdf#page=7" target="_blank"> annual vehicle miles traveled have declined</a> since 2009 (across the state, that figure peaked in 2004 at 108,910,000,000 miles.)</p><p>Probably better to focus on that than the time and money you&rsquo;re wasting the next time you&rsquo;re caught in a bad bout of congestion on Chicago-area highways.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/esther%20bowen.jpg" style="float: left; height: 300px; width: 300px;" title="Photo courtesy Esther Bowen" /><span style="font-size:24px;">Who asked our question?</span></p><p>Esther Bowen&rsquo;s curiosity is both personal and occupational. She commutes from Chicago&rsquo;s Bucktown neighborhood to Argonne National Laboratory, where she has worked as a scientist in the soil and groundwater sampling division for nearly three years. The trip usually takes about 45 minutes in the morning and an hour on the way back after work. That&rsquo;s plenty of time for her scientific mind to wade through the reasons that I-55 might flow freely one day and clog up the next.</p><p><a name="data"></a>&ldquo;I do kind of hate that I waste that much time in traffic,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;I feel like &mdash; psychologically &mdash; if I can understand why it is, it would help to deal with it.&rdquo;</p><p>Esther and her husband, Aaron, moved to Bucktown from Chicago&rsquo;s Lakeview neighborhood in part to shave time off her commute. She remembers one trip back from work when they lived in Lakeview took two hours, thanks to rain showers and a Cubs game.</p><p>Esther&rsquo;s parents still live in her hometown of Crystal Lake, Illinois &mdash; about 45 miles northwest of downtown Chicago &mdash; so substantial commutes factor into her personal life as well as her career.</p><p>Most of her friends live and work in the city, and she&rsquo;s not expecting sympathy from them. Instead, she says she just hopes to satisfy a personal curiosity.</p><p>&ldquo;I feel like a terrible commute is only terrible to the person who&rsquo;s living it,&rdquo; she says.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">The data driving our presentation</span></p><p>Charts in our presentation use the term Annual Average Daily Traffic, or AADT, which means traffic engineers measured the total number of cars in a year on a given road and divided by 365 days. We followed the Illinois Department of Transportation&rsquo;s format, so when AADT is above 100 percent, it means that time period experiences greater than average traffic.</p><p>Now, a few words on how traffic is measured, generally speaking. Even if you&rsquo;ve never nerded out over traffic engineering, this will be relevant if you&rsquo;ve ever used your phone to navigate on the road.</p><p>A lot of the information gathered by the federal and local transportation agencies comes from inductive-loop traffic detectors &mdash; magnetic loops embedded in the pavement of highways and some smaller streets. The devices measure the number and size of vehicles passing over them. From this information, traffic engineers glean travel times using mathematical formulas.</p><p><a name="jindra"></a>Luckily for traffic geeks, there is a lot more data out there these days. Many of us travel with mobile devices and, while we do, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS components log data about our location at any given time. Google and other companies use that information to estimate the flow of traffic, and then deliver that data back through map programs and services.</p><p><em>Chris Bentley is a freelance writer and reporter for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City. Follow him at<a href="http://twitter.com/cementley" target="_blank"> @cementley</a> and at <a href="http://cabentley.com" target="_blank">cabentley.com</a>.</em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_75518" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/181823840/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em style="font-size: 10px;">The above guide was compiled by previous WBEZ traffic reporter Sarah Jindra. It details major highway routes around the city and could also help make sense of the traffic reports you hear on the radio.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Fri, 09 Jan 2015 11:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/when-chicago-area-traffic-worst-111374 What happens to people with autism when they age out of school? http://www.wbez.org/news/what-happens-people-autism-when-they-age-out-school-111326 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/artworks-000101028088-1nyuya-t500x500.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-2de977b6-abb8-ca6e-c072-bc877bdd2ffc">It&rsquo;s early in the morning. Josh Stern waits outside his house in Wilmette for a Pace van he calls every as his ride to work. The van arrives, Josh kisses his mom goodbye and pays his fare.</p><p dir="ltr">Stern is 25. He was diagnosed with autism when he was two. He has a photographic memory that allows him to sort through loan paperwork at great speed.</p><p dir="ltr">He takes one quick glance at the numbers, hits the calculator, files the forms in order and it&rsquo;s ready to go. It&rsquo;s a skill his co-worker Ricardo Ramos says he admires.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like a computer almost,&rdquo; Ramos said. &ldquo;He literally just keeps on doing it and you know he doesn&rsquo;t miss a detail. That&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s great about him, once you train him, he&rsquo;ll just do it.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Illinois has more than 19,000 minors who have autism. And that&rsquo;s just what the <a href="http://www.easterseals.com/explore-resources/living-with-autism/2014_autism_illinois.pdf">schools</a> are identifying. When these kids&rsquo; services expire from the state, they face the same choice as most young adults: school or work? But the transition to either of those worlds can be difficult depending on the disability.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The day the bus doesn&#39;t come</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Josh&rsquo;s mom Linda Stern is all too familiar with what many parents refer to as &ldquo;the day the bus doesn&rsquo;t come.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They put so much effort and wonderful work into the school experience and for most people all that work all that effort all that wonderful enriching experience just disappears,&rdquo; Stern said. &ldquo;They don&rsquo;t even understand it, it&rsquo;s like how come I&rsquo;m not going to school and I&rsquo;m sitting at home with mom watching TV all day long.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The transitional period out of the school system in Illinois starts at age 14 &frac12;. During that time, families work with the school to create post graduation goals based on the child&rsquo;s interests and skills.</p><p dir="ltr">Though federal law requires that every child receive a transition plan, parents like Bill Casey feel the system can leave parents frustrated and confused.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Parents don&rsquo;t understand what&rsquo;s offered to them by the community service organizations,&rdquo; Casey said. &ldquo;You really have to start digging to figure what&rsquo;s available. You really need friends like Julie and Michael Tracy to help guide you in some ways to find the right avenues.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Julie and Michael Tracy run an urban farm that caters to young adults with autism. The farm harvests everything from collard greens to fresh tomatoes, and all of that goes to food pantries across the city.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;re teaching them jobs skills, interviewing and resume, working with other people,&rdquo; said Gwenne Godwin, farm manager at the <a href="http://jmtf.org/portfolio/growing-solutions-farm/">Growing Solutions Farm</a>. &ldquo;We just happen to be using the medium of agriculture to do it in so that they can get a job in this industry or in any industry because they&rsquo;ve learned those vocational skills.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Casey&rsquo;s son Dan works at the farm. He feels it offers Dan an experience he didn&rsquo;t have in a school setting.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You know kids with autism don&rsquo;t have all the victories that we all have growing up,&rdquo; Casey said. &ldquo;The baseball, the football, the debates and the like, this is something for them.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">We asked the Illinois Division of Developmental Disabilities for response to Bill Casey&rsquo;s claims about these programs, but they didn&rsquo;t provide one. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Now, the National Garden Bureau is behind the program and these young workers are able for the first time to take home a paycheck. The non-profit has generated nearly $30,000 in donations and continues to raise funds for the farm.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Opportunities in higher education</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/6/1042">More than half</a> of people with autism struggle to find work and often don&rsquo;t seek higher education opportunities.</p><p dir="ltr">For those who do, they can turn to Jennifer Gorski. Gorski runs the Autism Clinic and TAP Training Center at University of Illinois, Chicago.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We are hearing about these needs from people in our community quite a bit,&rdquo; Gorski said. &ldquo;We formed the ASPiE group which is a support group geared toward supporting college students that are on the spectrum.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">ASPiE (Adults Spectrum People in Education) meet once a week to have frank conversations that every college kid has such as, what&rsquo;s in store after college, questions about careers and managing course load.</p><p dir="ltr">Since social interactions can be a big obstacle for individuals with autism, ASPiE members like Jasmin Khoshnood say it helps them interact with their peers.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s been really helpful to me in terms what do with with college and how to add to professional world,&rdquo; said Khoshnood. &ldquo;Meeting ASPiE college students has been good for me as well having a peer group that is more like me I can tell things that I couldn&#39;t tell to non-autistic, neuro-typical people.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The program at UIC Khoshnood participates in is not the norm across the state.</p><p dir="ltr">United Cerebral Palsy <a href="http://cfi2014.ucp.org/data/">ranks</a> Illinois at the bottom for the way it handles its services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;My perspective is that it all comes down to funding,&rdquo; said Gorski from UIC&rsquo;s Autism Clinic and TAP Training Center. &ldquo;I think that the adults are a little bit behind in terms of the allocation of resources.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Come January, that funding could get even <a href="http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=71009">tighter</a> when the current income tax hike rolls back.</p><p dir="ltr">Kevin Casey from Illinois&rsquo; Division of Developmental Disabilities said in a statement, &ldquo;the loss of any funding will limit and delay our ability to provide services.&rdquo;</p><p>Governor-elect Bruce Rauner has said he wants to roll back the income tax hike.</p><p>What that means for the autism community remains to be seen.&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 02 Jan 2015 11:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/what-happens-people-autism-when-they-age-out-school-111326 Durbin leaving Congressional roommates behind http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-leaving-congressional-roommates-behind-111261 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP602936696661.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>For Senator Dick Durbin, the upcoming session of Congress marks the end of an era. And it&rsquo;s not because the Senate is turning from blue to red.</p><p>After more than 20 years, the number two Democrat will be forced to find a new place to live. Durbin has been sharing a Capitol Hill row house with two Democrats: New York Sen.Chuck Schumer, and Rep. George Miller of California, who is also the landlord. Other members of congress have stayed there through the years, including Marty Russo of Illinois, Leon Panetta of California, Sam Gejdenson of Connecticut, and Bill Delahunt of Massachusetts.</p><p>But in 2015, their landlord won&rsquo;t be returning to the Hill. Representative Miller announced at the beginning of this year that he wasn&rsquo;t going to seek a 21st term in the House of Representatives, and so he decided to sell the now somewhat famous frat house.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s the end of an era,&rdquo; Durbin said. &ldquo;And as I said to one of the other <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/17/us/after-decades-lawmakers-are-roommates-no-more.html" target="_blank">interviewers</a>, it&rsquo;s the end of America as I have known it. It is a new nation. I don&rsquo;t know, it&rsquo;ll be fine.&rdquo;</p><p>Durbin says he went out and got himself a little apartment that he&rsquo;ll move into in a couple weeks when the new session starts.</p><p>But the Senator didn&rsquo;t seem too thrilled about the change of pace, as he says he&rsquo;ll miss his roommates.</p><p>&ldquo;Coming home at night, late at night, and just sitting around, on the couch, talking about what happens and how it&rsquo;s seen differently in the House than it is in the Senate. You know, I miss that. And plus, we became friends, family friends.&rdquo;</p><p>Durbin has told stories in the past about the lack of cleanliness in the apartment. He says Miller would chide Schumer for leaving his bed unmade for &ldquo;7,000 nights.&rdquo; Durbin says his new Washington digs will be much cleaner than his last.</p><p>&ldquo;I am just an average clean up guy, and I stood out in this house as way above the rest,&rdquo; Durbin said.</p><p>If the vision of three, not just grown men, but powerful lawmakers, living together in a DC apartment sounds to you like the makings of a sitcom, you&rsquo;re not alone.</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t tell you how many times people say, &lsquo;that would make a wonderful TV show.&rsquo; That story, I can just see it now,&rdquo; Durbin said, in a previous interview. &ldquo;And I said, understand there&rsquo;s no sex and violence here, so this is not likely to be very popular.&rdquo;</p><p>A few attempts at that show were made early on, including one by a then young comedian named Al Franken, but none were successful until last year, when Amazon produced a web series called <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Pilot-HD/dp/B00CDBTQCW" target="_blank">Alpha House</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-leaving-congressional-roommates-behind-111261 Rules of the ramps: Surviving while homeless in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/rules-ramps-surviving-while-homeless-chicago-111207 <p><p><em>Updated 1.5.15</em></p><p>The City of Chicago does a regular count of people who are homeless here. The most recent survey puts the count at more than 6,000 people at any given time&mdash;though advocates say that at some time over the course of a year more than 100,000 individual people are homeless. Many of them are visible as they sleep in parks or panhandle on the streets.&nbsp; But they&rsquo;re still mostly invisible and unknown.&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p><strong>Photos: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/rules-ramps-surviving-while-homeless-chicago-111207#norma" target="_self">A tour of the hut where Norma lives</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>That changed for me over the past year, as I went out to meet some of the people who ask for money along Chicago&rsquo;s expressway exit ramps. I learned about their lives, and the &ldquo;rules of the ramp&rdquo; they survive by. We&#39;ve included the audio of some of their stories here.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div id="PictoBrowser150114175138">Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer</div><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "620", "500", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Rules of the Ramp: Surviving while homeless in Chicago"); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157650232737466"); so.addVariable("titles", "on"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "on"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "mid"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "90"); so.write("PictoBrowser150114175138"); </script><p>&nbsp;</p><p>I met Bud about a year ago. He used to be a forklift operator in Bolingbrook and after he lost that job, he tried to hold his family&rsquo;s finances together through various remodeling and temp jobs. He struck me as a very unlikely person to be out here working the ramps in Chicago. He panhandled at the Kennedy exit ramp near Diversey and Keeler. He lived in a sort of mini-tent city under the Kennedy expressway.</p><p>Bud told me that &ldquo;rarely a day goes by&rdquo; when someone didn&#39;t give him two pennies for his efforts. He politely says &ldquo;thank you&rdquo; he tells me, laughing. Sort of his way of one-upping them.</p><p>Some of his fellow ramp workers report that if they get pennies, they throw that &ldquo;sh&mdash;&quot; back at the driver. But Bud said that&rsquo;s bad strategy.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want to cause a scene,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Others will see that and they won&rsquo;t want to give either.&rdquo;</p><p>Plus, Bud didn&#39;t want other people in their cars to think he&rsquo;s ungrateful.</p><p>&ldquo;What am I going to say?&rdquo; Bud said. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re not giving me enough money? I can&rsquo;t get mad at someone about their money.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 22.3999996185303px; line-height: 22px;">Rules of the ramps</span></p><p>I started hearing anecdotes like this about a year ago. That&rsquo;s when I noticed that there never seems to be more than one panhandler at a time at any given ramp&mdash;which seems to suggest a <em>system</em> of some sort. So I started asking if there are rules that govern what happens at the ramps.</p><p>There was no science behind my little investigation. But it turns out there is a system of sorts. If you listen to their stories, you&rsquo;ll hear the &ldquo;findings&rdquo; of my study within the context of their complex lives. The rules of the ramps are roughly the following:</p><ul><li>No one &ldquo;owns&rdquo; a spot, and it&rsquo;s basically &ldquo;first come, first served&rdquo; at the ramps. But if you&rsquo;ve worked there for weeks or months, you have earned &ldquo;dibs&rdquo; on that spot.</li><li>Even if you consider it to be &ldquo;your&rdquo; spot, if you&rsquo;ve earned some money and someone else is waiting &ndash; let them on the ramp. Because everyone needs to eat.</li><li>Don&rsquo;t walk right up to someone&rsquo;s car. Don&rsquo;t ever tap on someone&rsquo;s car window. Don&rsquo;t intimidate or harass people.</li><li>If someone gives you pennies, hold onto it. It all starts to add up.</li><li>Don&rsquo;t panhandle in the rain. Drivers don&rsquo;t want to roll down their windows and get wet. You won&rsquo;t earn much.</li><li>&nbsp;Give the ramp a &ldquo;rest.&rdquo; If drivers always see panhandlers at a given ramp, they become weary and won&rsquo;t donate. It&rsquo;s called &ldquo;burning up the spot.&rdquo;&nbsp; Note: This &ldquo;rule&rdquo; is contested. Many ramp workers think it&rsquo;s fine for a ramp to be &ldquo;staffed&rdquo; all the time.</li><li>Asking for money with a sign is not &quot;begging&quot;. When you walk up to someone and ask for money with words &ndash; that&rsquo;s &quot;begging&quot;. Note: This &ldquo;rule&rdquo; is contested too.</li><li>If you don&rsquo;t want to be judged&mdash;and even pre-judged &ndash; don&rsquo;t&nbsp;work the ramps.</li></ul><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 22.3999996185303px; line-height: 22px;">To give or not to give</span></p><p>Some experts on homelessness advise the public not to donate to panhandlers. Nonie Brennan is CEO at an organization called All Chicago, Making Homelessness History. She never gives to panhandlers.</p><p>&ldquo;And I strongly encourage people not to give money to panhandlers,&quot; Brennan said. &quot;If somebody is interested in helping with the issue of homelessness, there are a number of excellent organizations that could really benefit from a donation and you can get a tax receipt and then you know where your money is going. And you know that your money is actually helping something. If you&rsquo;re giving to panhandlers you don&rsquo;t know where your money&rsquo;s going and you don&rsquo;t know what it&rsquo;s doing.&rdquo;</p><p>Last winter I also talked to Jim LoBianco, former head of homeless services in the Daley administration and until recently, executive director at Streetwise, an organization probably best known for the newspaper it publishes and its ubiquitous newspaper vendors. Streetwise is also a full-scale social service agency.</p><p>LoBianco is also convinced that, in general, donating to panhandlers isn&rsquo;t a good idea. Though he says sometimes breaks his own rule and donates a sizable amount&mdash;$25 or more&mdash;if he thinks the person is in real crisis and needs to immediately get off the street.</p><p>LoBianco says at a shelter, someone who is homeless might get access to other services.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;The difference between begging on an expressway ramp and getting enough money to go into a McDonalds and buy yourself a hamburger, versus picking yourself up and going to a local soup kitchen run by charity, is that when you walk into that soup kitchen you&rsquo;re not only going to get the meal&mdash;you&rsquo;re going to be engaged by someone who has some basic case management experience,&quot; LoBianco said. &quot;And you&rsquo;re going to be engaged by somebody who could actually say, &lsquo;What&rsquo;s the bigger picture going on in your life? Why are you forced to beg on the streets? Why are you in such crisis? How do we solve that problem?&rsquo; No one is walking into a soup kitchen in this city without being engaged at that level.&rdquo;</p><p>But a number of panhandlers told me this is not their experience.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/tony.jpg" style="height: 464px; width: 620px;" title="Tony has tried using resources from social service agencies but says he has never been offered access to job training. (WBEZ/Linda Paul)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Take Tony. He has an associate&rsquo;s degree in business hospitality and worked for eight years as a sous chef for Marriott Hotels in Detroit, he says.&nbsp;He regularly stays at an emergency shelter and I ask if he&rsquo;s ever tried to get help from an&nbsp;actual social service agency in Chicago?</div><div><p>&quot;Yeah, I have,&rdquo; Tony tells me. &quot;But actually, all they do is refer you to a shelter. That&rsquo;s the feedback I done got from &lsquo;em. &#39;Well, this shelter here&mdash;&nbsp;have you tried this shelter?&rsquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;Like far as trying to find low-income housing and stuff like that &ndash; they don&rsquo;t do that. If they do, they put you on a lottery waiting list. And for some reason, my name never got pulled..&rdquo;</p><p>Okay, social service agencies &nbsp;have not, thus far, found you permanent housing, I told him. But have they ever tried to hook you up with job training&nbsp;&mdash; or an actual job?</p><p>&ldquo;I ain&rsquo;t never heard social service say anything about job training. Never.&rdquo; Tony says.</p><p>&nbsp;And he asks if the people who told me this know I&rsquo;m a reporter?</p><p>&nbsp;&ldquo;Basically they&#39;re probably telling you what you want to hear. When one of us go up there, it&rsquo;s something totally different,&rdquo; he advises me. &nbsp;</p></div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/deedeecrop.jpg" style="float: right; height: 401px; width: 300px;" title="Dee-Dee panhandles in Chicago. (WBEZ/Linda Paul)" />Dee-Dee panhandles on the expressway ramps too. She&#39;s gone to a social service agency and says she knows very nice people there.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;[But] for you to get a place to stay, or any kinda help, it could be two or three years down the road,&quot; she said. &quot;And that ain&rsquo;t gonna help me right now.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><br />She says social service agencies are well-meaning and they&rsquo;ll put you on a list for help.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;But in the meantime, what you gonna do? You gotta get out there and hustle&mdash;or fall by the wayside. I mean we can&rsquo;t live with no money in our pocket. I mean you get into emergency situations. I&rsquo;m a woman, like, I get my monthly like... what am I gonna do? Like try and run and find a service agency &ndash; &#39;Oh I need tampons right now!&#39; No. If I can&rsquo;t get no money out here, I&rsquo;m gonna go to Walgreens and steal me some tampons&hellip;. So I gotta do, what I gotta do. If I&rsquo;m hungry, I gotta eat.&rdquo;<p>Many of the ramp workers I talked to acknowledged that there are lots of panhandlers who are mentally ill, strung out on drugs or alcoholics. Or all of the above. And most of them also acknowledged they themselves had a substance abuse problem at some point in their lives. But several insisted that was no longer the case. Now they were simply down on their luck.</p><p>Were they lying? Probably some were&mdash;and some weren&rsquo;t.</p><p>But I know this for sure: I met some pretty high-functioning people on the ramps, many who had held jobs and hope to again.</p><p><em>Updated audio for this story reflects new information on Bud&#39;s childhood living alone and sometimes on the streets, not in group homes run by the state.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>Audio production of Norma, Ed, Bud and Steven&#39;s stories by Ken Davis</em></p></div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Follow along this week as WBEZ digs deeper into the issue of homelessness in Chicago.</em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 22.3999996185303px; line-height: 22px;">A photo tour of Norma&#39;s hut<a name="norma"></a></span></p><div id="PictoBrowser150114172903">Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer</div><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "620", "600", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Rules of the Ramp: Surviving while homeless in Chicago"); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157647964780674"); so.addVariable("titles", "on"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "on"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "mid"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "90"); so.write("PictoBrowser150114172903"); </script><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 10:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/rules-ramps-surviving-while-homeless-chicago-111207 Criminal probe after gas evacuates 'furries' event http://www.wbez.org/news/criminal-probe-after-gas-evacuates-furries-event-111203 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ap369870749900-6cb6149372bd01c6980713a5a664451b31a557e3-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>ROSEMONT, Ill. &mdash; Authorities are investigating the release of a gas that sickened several hotel guests and forced thousands of people &mdash; many dressed as cartoon animals &mdash; to evacuate the building.</p><p>Although some participants at the Midwest FurFest convention thought the mass evacuation early Sunday was just part of the fun, investigators are treating it as a criminal matter.</p><p>Nineteen people who became nauseous or dizzy were treated at local hospitals. Within hours, emergency workers decontaminated the Hyatt Regency O&#39;Hare and allowed people back inside.</p><p>The Rosemont Public Safety Department said someone apparently intentionally left a powder that appeared to contain chlorine in a ninth-floor hotel stairway, causing the gas to spread. On Monday, the department would only say that the investigation was continuing and declined further comment.</p><p>Organizers tried to reassure the participants that the evacuation would not overshadow the FurFest event, in which attendees celebrate animals that are anthropomorphic &mdash; meaning they&#39;ve been given human characteristics &mdash; through art, literature and performance. Many of the costumed attendees refer to themselves as &quot;furries.&quot;</p><p>&quot;In walk all these people dressed like dogs and foxes,&quot; said Pieter Van Hiel, a 40-year-old technical writer from Hamilton, Canada, chuckling as he recalled the crowd being herded into the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, where a dog show was taking place over the weekend.</p><p>Kit McCreedy, a 28-year-old from Madison, Wisconsin, said he didn&#39;t think the incident would further disrupt Midwest FurFest, which was in its final day.</p><p>&quot;I think we&#39;ll recover from this,&quot; said McCreedy, his fox tail swinging behind him as he headed back inside. &quot;People are tired but they&#39;re still full of energy.&quot;</p><p>Others said they didn&#39;t know why anyone would try to upset the convention that includes dance contests and panel discussions on making the costumes. Some pointed out that the brightly colored outfits are made from fake fur and foam.</p><p>&quot;Nobody uses real fur,&quot; said Frederic Cesbron, a 35-year-old forklift operator who flew to Chicago from his home in France. He attended the convention dressed in a fox outfit that he said is worth about $3,000.</p><p>&quot;Everyone is from a different background,&quot; said Michael Lynch, a 25-year-old from Madison, Wisconsin, who, like his buddy, McCreedy, dressed as a fox. &quot;Nobody judges anybody. It&#39;s nice to come to a place like that.&quot;</p><p>Or, as Van Hiel put it, &quot;It&#39;s kind of weird, but it&#39;s not weird here.&quot;</p></p> Mon, 08 Dec 2014 16:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/criminal-probe-after-gas-evacuates-furries-event-111203 Chicago protestors focus on the future http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-protestors-focus-future-111201 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/friday protest.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Hundreds of people demonstrated on Chicago&#39;s West Side over the weekend to bring more attention to the recent deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.</p><p>Area pastors encouraged congregants to join a march shutting down the intersection of Madison and Pulaski. Demonstrators say this is only the beginning of a movement that&#39;ll go beyond holding signs in the streets.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/who-polices-police-chicago-its-increasingly-ex-cops-111194" target="_blank">Who polices the police in Chicago? Mostly ex-cops</a></strong></p></blockquote><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/180564592&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Thousands of church-goers also ditched their traditional services and flooded streets all throughout Chicago&#39;s South Side on Sunday. Their pastors urged them to march in solidarity with protesters who for weeks now have been bringing attention to cases of black men killed by police. Pastors say the marches should have taken place decades ago.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Listen to the Morning Shift conversation</span></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/180557897&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> Mon, 08 Dec 2014 11:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-protestors-focus-future-111201 Morning Shift: Impact of raising minimum wage http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2014-12-04/morning-shift-impact-raising-minimum-wage-111189 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/B4A8Lx4IUAAeOG6.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Looking at Chicago&#39;s new minimum wage hike from a number of angles, the happiness level of vegetarians, and music from A Christmas Carol</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-109/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-109.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-109" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Impact of raising minimum wage " on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 08:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2014-12-04/morning-shift-impact-raising-minimum-wage-111189 Mayor Byrne remembered as feisty, trailblazer http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-byrne-remembered-feisty-trailblazer-111114 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/byrne funeral.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago said goodbye Monday to Jane Byrne, its first and only female mayor. Byrne was celebrated for her &ldquo;feisty&rdquo; personality and her &ldquo;trailblazing&rdquo; career in the mayor&rsquo;s office.</p><p>Her funeral was held at the St. Vincent de Paul Church in Lincoln Park - the same parish her parents attended in the late 1890s. Byrne&rsquo;s mother also attended grammar school there. A steady stream of friends, family members, politicos and regular Chicagoans attended her visitation and funeral Monday - including Mayor Rahm Emanuel.</p><p>&ldquo;She led our city in a way that captures the true spirit of Chicago: dogged, determined and dignified,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;As the first woman to lead not just our city, but any major American city, Jane Byrne will always have a special place in the history books</p><p>The morning began with a traditional visitation at 9 am sharp. Jane Byrne lay peacefully inside an open casket with the Chicago flag laid delicately on top. The sun snuck in through the ornate stained glass windows of the church and made her blonde hair shine.</p><p>For the most part, the mood was more jovial than somber: Old friends and colleagues greeted each other in more of the manner of a holiday party. Many, like Angel Correa, sported Byrne&rsquo;s old campaign buttons.</p><p>Correa said he campaigned hard for Byrne back in the early 1980s -- even as he clocked hours as a circulation manager at the Chicago Tribune.</p><p>&ldquo;And I&rsquo;ll tell you one thing,&rdquo; he said, while clutching a collage of old pictures of Mayor Byrne. &ldquo;I used to take her literature and actually stuff it in the Tribune papers. If they would have found that out, I probably would [have] got canned!&rdquo;</p><p>Correa later went on to serve as the deputy commissioner of neighborhoods for Mayor Byrne.</p><p>&ldquo;Believe me when I tell you: A very feisty lady, very bossy, but a very, very good, warm person with a good heart.&rdquo;</p><p>That feistiness was a constant theme throughout the funeral mass -- especially in the homily from Monsignor Kenneth Velo.</p><p>&ldquo;I remember walking into her room one day. She was peering out her window to the east, looking toward the lake. She didn&rsquo;t know I was there. I said Jane! She looked back and said &ldquo;you scared the hell out of me! And I said, good!&rdquo;</p><p>Velo spoke both of Byrne&rsquo;s accomplishments and her trials: like her vision for the museum campus, or the death of her first husband soon after the birth of their only child Kathy.</p><p>&ldquo;Was she perfect? Are you? Am I? Did she have faults? Sure. Don&rsquo;t you? Don&rsquo;t I? But she loved the city of Chicago. And she was proud that she was mayor of the city of Chicago,&rdquo; Velo said.</p><p>According to Velo, Byrne also proudly planned this mass.</p><p>Her great-grand nieces read the petitions and prayers, and her only grandson, Willy, read one of her favorite quotes from Senator Robert Kennedy.</p><p>But some of deepest emotion and reflection came from Byrne&rsquo;s daughter, Kathy.</p><p>&ldquo;My mother was dragon slaying, problem solving, 24/7 guardian angel,&rdquo; Byrne said.</p><p>Byrne said she often thinks about how life would have been if her dad had survived - she says her mom would have likely lived as a socialite on the North shore. But instead, Byrne said her mom fought for her independence. Back then, women weren&rsquo;t allowed to have their own credit accounts. When her dad died, Byrne says her mom had to fight tooth and nail at Saks Fifth Avenue to get that credit back -- a hurtful and humiliating experience that came to back to Byrne when she lived in Chicago&rsquo;s housing projects.</p><p>&ldquo;When my mom spoke to the mothers in Cabrini. And she heard how some of the merchants in the area refused their food stamps and called them names, called them worthless [and] did this in front of their children. My mother could share what they felt,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>And Byrne says her mother loved every minute of her time as mayor.</p><p>&ldquo;She was a great lady. And I&rsquo;ll never know anyone like her.&rdquo;</p><p>As Byrne&rsquo;s family carried her casket into the brisk Chicago winds - another fitting - but unplanned - theme appeared: Snow.</p><p>It was a snowfall in 1979 that swept Mayor Byrne into office. So it only seemed fitting that snowflakes fell softly on the Chicago flag that covered her coffin.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 06:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-byrne-remembered-feisty-trailblazer-111114 SRO tenants gain protections http://www.wbez.org/news/sro-tenants-gain-protections-111093 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS7102_IMG_2085 (outside 2)-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Low-income tenants of Chicago&rsquo;s disappearing single-room occupancy hotels have new protections under an ordinance city council approved Wednesday. The &ldquo;Chicago for All&rdquo; ordinance, as it has come to be known, passed 47-2, with only Aldermen Carrie Austin (34th) and Mary O&rsquo;Connor (41st) opposing. Supporters of the measure hope it will slow the trend of affordable SRO units falling into the hands of for-profit developers who displace low-income tenants.</p><p>&ldquo;This is all a piece of an overall fabric,&rdquo; said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose office helped broker the compromise between affordable housing advocates and SRO owners. &ldquo;The housing strategy particularly is part of a five-year plan: 41,000 units of affordable housing in the City of Chicago.&quot;</p><p>Emanuel&rsquo;s office worked closely with sponsors Alderman Walter Burnett (27th), Ameya Pawar (47th), and a coalition of organizations including ONE Northside, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and many more.</p><p>The ordinance regulates the sale of SRO buildings such that owners are encouraged to negotiate first with buyers who intend to preserve the building as affordable housing. If an owner opts not to do so, he may sell to for-profit developers and pay into a city SRO preservation fund at the rate of $20,000 per unit in the building. The preservation fund, in turn, could be used to provide forgivable loans to SRO owners who wish to make building improvements, to subsidize building purchases by preservation buyers, and to build new SRO buildings in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;In places like the Fourth Ward, we believe that we are doing our fair share when it comes to affordable housing and public housing,&rdquo; said Alderman William Burns (4th).&nbsp; &ldquo;And when we look at other places in the city, we ask what&rsquo;s being done to create affordable housing on the north lakefront? On the North Side of Chicago? So that there&rsquo;s equal opportunity for people to have affordable housing throughout the city&mdash;and particularly in communities where there&rsquo;s access to good schools, jobs, grocery stores, and an opportunity to break down racial segregation in this city?&rdquo;</p><p>Burns and other aldermen praised the ordinance for addressing, in part, the city&rsquo;s shortage of affordable housing. In particular, they cited it as a key way to combat the problem of homeless veterans. Housing advocates estimate about one-quarter of SRO residents are war veterans who might otherwise be homeless. Mayor Emanuel has declared one of his goals in the 2015 budget will be to end veteran homelessness in Chicago.</p><p>Additionally, the ordinance would provide additional financial assistance for SRO residents who are displaced. It would require building owners to pay between $2,000 and $10,600, depending on the circumstances. It would also forbid SRO owners from retaliating against residents who complain to the city or the news media about conditions in their buildings.</p><p>Negotiations between the city, advocates and SRO owners were challenging. Initially, many SRO owners hoped the city would shy away from regulations, and instead offer more financial incentives for them to keep their buildings affordable. But concerns early on that the regulations may be enough to prompt a lawsuit against the city have largely dissipated.</p><p>&ldquo;We were disappointed that the ordinance fell a bit short. We, and so many other stakeholders over about six months had been working very diligently,&rdquo; said Eric Rubenstein, Executive Director of the Single Room Housing Assistance Corporation. &ldquo;We will, as operators, do our very best to work with the plan, with the ordinance, as it was presented.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-6cd3f03c-a623-4dee-4055-9af79ec2a054"><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> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 16:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/sro-tenants-gain-protections-111093