WBEZ | Chicago http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Since Ferguson, A Rise In Charges Against Police Officers http://www.wbez.org/news/ferguson-rise-charges-against-police-officers-113953 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gettyimages-498665158_custom-9c648367ac84089a77935afb947a597730c6d83b-s700-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res457423605" previewtitle="Demonstrators march through downtown Chicago on Tuesday following the release of a video showing Jason Van Dyke, a police officer, shooting and killing Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder for the October 2014 shooting in which McDonald was hit with 16 bullets. So far this year, 15 officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter resulting from an on-duty shooting."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Demonstrators march through downtown Chicago on Tuesday following the release of a video showing Jason Van Dyke, a police officer, shooting and killing Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder for the October 2014 shooting in which McDonald was hit with 16 bullets. So far this year, 15 officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter resulting from an on-duty shooting." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/25/gettyimages-498665158_custom-9c648367ac84089a77935afb947a597730c6d83b-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Demonstrators march through downtown Chicago on Tuesday following the release of a video showing Jason Van Dyke, a police officer, shooting and killing Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder for the October 2014 shooting in which McDonald was hit with 16 bullets. So far this year, 15 officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter resulting from an on-duty shooting. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>A question some in Chicago are asking after<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/11/24/457233148/first-degree-murder-charge-for-chicago-police-officer-who-shot-teen">&nbsp;the release of a video that shows a police officer fatally shooting a black teen</a>: <em>Did prosecutors charge the officer who killed Laquan McDonald only because they had to &mdash; because the video was about to come out?</em></p></div></div></div><p>Cook County State&#39;s Attorney Anita Alvarez rejected that notion Tuesday.</p><p>&quot;Pressure? This is no pressure! Why &mdash; I would never be pressured into making any kind of decision, quickly,&quot; she said.</p><p>But across the country, prosecutors do seem to be under more pressure to charge police &mdash; especially in the year since police killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.</p><p>Homicide charges against police are pretty rare; they average about five cases a year. That number comes from Phil Stinson, a former-cop-turned-academic who collects statistics like this at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.</p><p>Stinson says the average is actually slightly less than five cases a year &mdash; but that&#39;s the average for the past decade. This year is looking a little different.</p><p>&quot;As of today, we now have 15 officers who&#39;ve been charged with murder or manslaughter resulting from an on-duty shooting where they&#39;ve shot and killed somebody,&quot; he says.</p><div id="con457426068" previewtitle="Related Stories"><div id="res457425882"><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><div id="res457426024">It&#39;s an interesting jump &mdash; but Stinson&#39;s not ready to draw any conclusions yet.</div></div><p>&quot;It&#39;s hard to say if we&#39;re seeing a pattern, a change in prosecutorial behavior, anything like that, because we&#39;re dealing with such small numbers,&quot; Stinson says. &quot;We&#39;re dealing with outliers.&quot;</p><p>Statistics aside, though, he does think the justice system is giving police less benefit of the doubt than it did when he was a young cop.</p><p>&quot;That&#39;s being chipped away,&quot; he says. &quot;I think that now we&#39;re not taking officers at their word, and that people are looking a little bit closer. And I think that goes for prosecutors as well.&quot;</p><p>Still, there&#39;s a lot of skepticism about whether prosecutors can be objective about the police, whom they work with every day.</p><p>That skepticism grows when the decision to charge them seems to drag out, as it did in McDonald&#39;s case in Chicago, until the video came out &mdash; or in Cleveland, where it&#39;s been<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/20/456626171/for-family-of-tamir-rice-an-inauspicious-anniversary">a year since a police officer shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice</a>.</p><p>Jonathan Abady is one of the lawyers representing Rice&#39;s mother; he believes prosecutors there have been using that time to weaken their own case against the officer.</p><p>&quot;It seems to us that it&#39;s taking a year because this prosecutor is more interested in protecting the police, and what they&#39;ve been doing for that year is searching for people who would be willing to call what is clearly in our view an unreasonable police shooting justified,&quot; Abady says.</p><p>The prosecutor in Cleveland calls that theory &quot;baseless,&quot; and in fact, legal experts say it really isn&#39;t fair to assume that the fix is in, just because a charging decision is taking a long time.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s not a race,&quot; says Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Law School and a former federal prosecutor in Los Angeles.</p><p>&quot;There are good strategic reasons for a prosecutor actually not to bring the charges just because they can bring the charges so quickly,&quot; she says.</p><p>Once you&#39;ve file charges, Levenson says, it gets harder to collect evidence against an officer.</p><p>And people don&#39;t realize how hard it is to make a case against cops; they usually have great lawyers, and they still get more sympathy from juries than the average murder defendant. Prosecutors have their work cut out for them, she says, even when there is a video.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/25/457415588/since-ferguson-a-rise-in-charges-against-police-officers?ft=nprml&amp;f=457415588" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 17:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/ferguson-rise-charges-against-police-officers-113953 StoryCorps Chicago: Thirty Years of Talking Turkey http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-thirty-years-talking-turkey-113939 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/StoryCorps 151125 Marjorie Carol bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>For more than 30 years, Marjorie Klindera and Carol Miller have spent Thanksgiving Day together. But instead of sitting around a dining room table, the two sit around a bank of telephones.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That&#39;s because Marjorie and Carol both work at the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line. It&rsquo;s a toll-free phone number for people who need help cooking turkeys.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Even with the Internet the talk line gets more than 10,000 phone calls each Thanksgiving. Marjorie and Carol are two of the longest-serving experts.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em><a href="http://www.storycorps.org">StoryCorps&rsquo; </a>mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share, record and preserve their stories. These excerpts, edited by WBEZ, present some of our favorites from the current visit, as well as from previous trips.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 13:16:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-thirty-years-talking-turkey-113939 Amid Growing Youth Violence In Chicago, One Woman Offers A Safety Net http://www.wbez.org/program/weekend-edition/2015-11-23/amid-growing-youth-violence-chicago-one-woman-offers-safety-net <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/diane1edit_custom-d047dcd6695b373dc24bd52889c2fe27c73515d2-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res456781576" previewtitle="The youngest child remembered at Chicago's Roseland neighborhood memorial was just one year old."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The youngest child remembered at Chicago's Roseland neighborhood memorial was just one year old." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/20/stones3edit_custom-5c7b923c2c79004121b200f7eeb5271f668d7371-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 454px; width: 620px;" title="The youngest child remembered at Chicago's Roseland neighborhood memorial was just one-year-old. (Peter Breslow/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>In a run-down stretch of Chicago&#39;s South Michigan Avenue, miles from the museums and skyscrapers, an army of foot-high paving stones stand on shelves along the street. It&#39;s a handmade memorial to honor the young people who have died at the hands of the city&#39;s street violence. A name is written on each of the 574 stones.</p></div></div></div><p>But they are not just names to Diane Latiker.</p><p>&quot;This is the first stone that went up, Blair Hope, coming home on the school bus, 14-year-old got on the bus, sprayed the bus, trying to protect his classmate, girls next to him, and he was killed,&quot; Latiker says. &quot;Arthur Jones, 10 years old, going to get some candy. Fred Couch, he got killed a couple of blocks from here.&quot;</p><p>Just last weekend, 20 people were shot in Chicago and one died. The city&#39;s had about a 20 percent increase in shootings and homicides in the first half of this year, and an epidemic of gun violence the past few years. Most of the killings have occurred in neighborhoods on the South Side, most of those victims have been African-American and many have been teenagers and younger.</p><p>On any given day, sirens and shots ring through the night. And in the morning, children, like the bright-eyed and bold 11-year-old boy Amari, often don&#39;t want to walk to school.</p><p>&quot;Somebody, they tried to jump me,&quot; Amari says. &quot;I was walking my little sister. They said they going to kill us and stuff. I don&#39;t know, I think they must have thought I was somebody they was looking for or something.&quot;</p><p>Amari is one of Diane Latiker&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.examiner.com/article/chicago-youth-organization-struggling-to-stay-afloat">Kids Off the Block</a>, a group she began in her home in the city&#39;s Roseland neighborhood in 2003.</p><p>In a neighborhood where people bolt iron doors and lash down their window shades, Latiker opened her door.</p><p>She and her husband have eight children, and she&#39;s become what amounts to an activist mother to her neighborhood. She invites young people into her house, and into her life.</p><p>She says she tries to make a difference with these kids on a personal level.</p><p>&quot;The only way I can help them is if I listen and know what they need,&quot; she says. &quot;Because they have so many issues and I just try to be on the personal side with them. And if a kid needs a coat to go to school, I try to find a coat. If he needs a way back and forth to school because of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-18/gang-truces-then-vs-now-113835" target="_blank">gang lines</a>, we gonna take him back and forth to school. We do traditional programs of course, like tutoring and mentoring and conflict resolution stuff like that, but I found out you have to get into their lives. You know, you have to. Because the only way to help them is to realize that they have a life worth living.&quot;</p><div id="res456782016" previewtitle="Anti-violence activist Diane Latiker stands before the memorial for young people lost to violence in Chicago over the last several years. More than 500 stones honor the victims and there are hundreds more that still need to be added."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Anti-violence activist Diane Latiker stands before the memorial for young people lost to violence in Chicago over the last several years. More than 500 stones honor the victims and there are hundreds more that still need to be added." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/20/diane1edit_custom-d047dcd6695b373dc24bd52889c2fe27c73515d2-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 456px; width: 620px;" title="Anti-violence activist Diane Latiker stands before the memorial for young people lost to violence in Chicago over the last several years. More than 500 stones honor the victims and there are hundreds more that still need to be added. (Peter Breslow/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>In the beginning, she says she took a naïve approach.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;I thought everybody wanted to help the kids and the young people. So when I invited those kids into our house, I never thought it would go this far. I never thought all those other kids were out there,&quot; she says. &quot;When those kids, the ones I invited to my house, the nine, they went out there and told other kids, &#39;There&#39;s this lady can help,&#39; and they started coming.&quot;</p><p>Latiker works with about 50 kids at the moment. She receives support from local churches, city agencies and neighborhood groups, and has become well-known. The mayor of Chicago has paid his respects. She was one of CNN&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/archive11/diane.latiker.html" target="_blank">Heroes of the Year in 2011</a>.</p><p>&quot;There are two brothers up here, their mom lost them a week apart,&quot; she says, surrounded by the memorial stones. &quot;Shamiah Adams, 11; Antonio Smith, 9; Devonshay Lofton, 16; They all had lives.&quot;</p><div id="con456884754" previewtitle="related"><div id="res456884790"><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div></div><p>She can recall many young people who&#39;ve passed through her home, touched her heart and gone on to success. But she also remembers, just as sharply, a boy named Red who came to her when he was 15. She helped him get a summer job and he did better in school. But Red couldn&#39;t outrun the streets:</p><p>&quot;At 18, he got with the wrong crowd. He started dodging me, I couldn&#39;t find him. Next thing I know he&#39;s robbing people, shooting at people, throwing up gang signs, getting high,&quot; Latiker says. &quot;The last time I saw him was two weeks before he was killed. He said he didn&#39;t want to have anything to do with what I was talking about, he didn&#39;t believe in it. And he rode off.&quot;</p><p>She saw Red once more: dead in the street.</p><p>Now and then, another name rises to the top of the news. Three weeks ago, it was Tyshawn Lee, a 9-year-old boy who was&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-tyshawn-killing-autopsy-results-met-20151118-story.html" target="_blank">lured into an alley and shot at close range</a>. Police say a gang wanted to terrorize Lee&#39;s father, who reputedly belongs to another gang.</p><p>Latiker has seen how gangs have begun to target the families of rivals, a cruelty she says she once thought was too brutal even for gangs.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t care how heartless you are, you couldn&#39;t imagine that &#39;I&#39;m risking my mother or that my four-year-old sister or brother is in danger coming from school because I made a decision&#39; &mdash; and you&#39;re still going to stay in it? Knowing that it&#39;s beyond you now and that your family is marked,&quot; she says. &quot;You couldn&#39;t have imagined that.&quot;</p><p>But she did imagine that an empty lot across the street behind all those names on stones could be a basketball court free from drugs and crime. A donor came forward to build it, and the hoops drew boys to her door.</p><p>Today, two 13-year-olds, Jaheim Elliot and Cinque Dunn, will receive Champions for Teens Awards.</p><p>Elliot&#39;s father died about five years ago, of a heart attack. Dunn&#39;s father was shot to death in the street two years ago.</p><p>They&#39;re both 8th graders who found Diane Latiker through playing on her basketball court.</p><p>&quot;I seen a whole full court basketball rim and then when I asked I came across the street and knocked on the door and asked could we play basketball and she said yeah...like a whole group of us ready to play basketball ... And she said we could come up here any time.&quot;</p><p>And they say she&#39;s helped a lot.</p><p>&quot;Diana&#39;s a grandma to me. She treat me like a grandma.&quot;</p><p>&quot;She takes care of us,&quot; &shy;&shy;Elliot agrees.</p><p>Their words touch Latiker.</p><p>&quot;When I&#39;m around Miss Diane I feel safe.&quot;</p><p>And they say she&#39;s helped a lot &mdash; that she&#39;s like a grandmother to them.</p><p>The boys and their friends play on as the sun comes down, and Diane Latiker looks on.</p><p>She has to add another 500 stones to the shelves on this lot, with more names of children who have died in Chicago&#39;s gun violence.</p><p>But for a moment she gets to watch five boys who have knocked on her door run, laugh and feel safe enough just to play basketball.</p></p> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 10:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/program/weekend-edition/2015-11-23/amid-growing-youth-violence-chicago-one-woman-offers-safety-net Fare Game: When do CTA Buses Break Even? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/fare-game-when-do-cta-buses-break-even-113884 <p><p>The midnight ride started it. Actually, it was about half past midnight. That&rsquo;s when Fred Pineda, who moved to the city seven years ago to attend the University of Chicago, would climb aboard the #6 bus to take him back to Hyde Park once he was done partying downtown. Fred says he made the trip often and &ldquo;usually there would only be about four or five of us on that bus, especially during weekdays. I was thinking, &lsquo;There&rsquo;s no way the CTA is making money off this route.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Fred has since moved to the North Side, and hasn&rsquo;t taken that trip in a while. But a question from those days has stuck with him, the same question he&rsquo;s posed to Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>How many fares does it take for a bus to get to the break even point?</em></p><p>The &ldquo;break even point&rdquo; is that sweet spot where the amount of cash coming into the farebox on a given bus line matches what is going out to cover the bus&rsquo;s operating costs.</p><p>This is a big question for the second-largest public transit system in the country. Just in the first half of this year, about 869,000 weekday trips were taken on CTA buses. The agency spends $764 million to maintain that service, with a good chunk of that amount coming from public funds.</p><p>Technically, the CTA <em>could</em> break even &mdash; &nbsp;at least on paper. To get at exactly how, we ran a two-part thought experiment. The first looks at what the break even point actually is, while the second investigates what the CTA would have to change in service, pricing, and access in order for bus operations to pay for themselves.</p><p>In laying out the serious financial gymnastics required to create a wholly self-sufficient CTA bus service, we realize this story is more complex than finding a magic price point: There&rsquo;s often an impulse to make people who use a service pay its full cost, but when it comes to public transit, even some fiscal watchdogs agree that the goal of &ldquo;breaking even&rdquo; is not all it&rsquo;s cracked up to be.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Breaking even</span></p><p>To answer Fred&rsquo;s question, we have to determine what CTA buses earn, and compare that to what it costs to run the system. Most of the CTA&rsquo;s expenses fall into one of two categories: 1) overall costs (fuel, driver salaries, maintenance, and administration); and 2) capital costs (the price tags for new buses). According to transportation figures which the agency reports to the federal <a href="http://www.ntdprogram.gov/ntdprogram/">National Transit Database</a>, the CTA lines up fare collection data against its overall operating costs and excludes capital costs, since operating costs are where the bulk of the annual budget is directed.</p><p>The CTA&rsquo;s overall bus costs added up to $764,280,757 in 2013 &mdash; the latest year for which data are available.</p><p>In that same year, CTA buses earned $298,824,494 just in fares, or 39 percent of what it spent on its overall costs. The remaining 61 percent was mainly paid for with state and city subsidies deriving from sales taxes and Chicago&rsquo;s real estate transfer tax.</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/fareboxrecoverycomparison.PNG" style="height: 388px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>Although the CTA prefers not to look at its bus service through the &ldquo;break even&rdquo; lens, some of its buses do cross that threshold in certain circumstances, according to Yonah Freemark, a city planner who specializes in transportation and development policy for the <a href="http://www.metroplanning.org/people/staff-member/?id=67">Metropolitan Planning Council</a>.</p><p>Freemark bases his calculations on RTA data, as well as figures from the National Transit Database. He says it costs about $132 per hour for the CTA to operate a bus. Therefore, Freemark figures, in order to cover the full cost of its operations over a single hour, one bus would have to earn $132 per hour at the farebox. That covers costs for the driver, gas, administration, and maintenance. (Again, it leaves out capital costs, such as the bus itself.)</p><p>With a <a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/fares/">full fare set at $2 per person</a> &nbsp;(<a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/fares/">o</a>r<a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/fares/"> </a>$<a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/fares/">2</a>.<a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/fares/">2</a>5<a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/fares/"> </a>i<a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/fares/">f</a> <a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/fares/">y</a>o<a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/fares/">u</a> <a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/fares/">p</a>a<a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/fares/">y</a> <a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/fares/">c</a>a<a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/fares/">s</a>h)<a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/fares/"> </a>a CTA bus would seemingly need just 66 passengers to come aboard during that hour in order for that bus to break even. But in 2013, the <em>average</em> rider only paid about a dollar per trip. This is because, in compliance with state and federal regulations, the <a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/travel_information/fares/reduced.aspx">CTA offers a large number of riders free or reduced fares</a>, including students, seniors, people in the military, and disabled passengers. There are also unlimited ride passes, and multiple rides taken via transfers.</p><p>&ldquo;Given the fact that the average passenger on a bus is only paying about $1 per trip,&rdquo; says Freemark, a bus needs about 132 riders over the course of an hour in order to cover its costs.</p><p>With 128 bus routes operating throughout Chicago and 35 suburbs, it seems that if you add up all of the service hours throughout the entire CTA bus system (math that the CTA has been reluctant to do or share, citing considerations of staff time), you are likely to find that (a) most buses most of the time do not break even, and (b) breaking even is most prone to occur during peak hours, and not on every line.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">The cost of breaking even</span></p><p>The CTA has not announced plans to raise fares any time soon, and actually, a thought experiment may help understand why: What if the CTA wanted to break even? That is, what if the agency paid for all of its bus operating costs solely with what it earns from bus passengers?</p><p>According to Freemark, the fare price would have to skyrocket. &ldquo;You would need to increase the fare to $5.12 per trip,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s an increase of 156 percent.&rdquo;</p><p>That new $5.12 figure would be the equivalent of today&rsquo;s &ldquo;full fare&rdquo; price of $2.00. Under this scenario, reduced fares for veterans, seniors, and children would also rise proportionately, and Freemark&rsquo;s math accounts for the effects of free transfers and monthly passes. The bottom line, though, is that higher sticker price would fetch enough bus fares to cover the bus system&rsquo;s operating costs.</p><p>Freemark&rsquo;s take on this: &ldquo;Doing that would immediately result in a significant decline in the number of people taking the buses.&rdquo;</p><p>Freemark points to the <a href="https://hbr.org/2015/08/a-refresher-on-price-elasticity">concept of price elasticity</a>. As the price of something goes up &mdash; a candy bar, or a gallon of gas &mdash; the number of people willing to pay goes down. Transit elasticity, Freemark says, has a formula that&rsquo;s about -0.4, meaning every time fares increase by 10 percent, the number of riders drops by 4 percent. A full fare of $5.12 would equate to a price hike of 156 percent; Freemark expects CTA bus ridership would fall by 62.4 percent.</p><p>To test this thought experiment, we run our hypothetical price hike by Chicagoan Quinn Naughton, a regular bus rider who says &mdash; thought experiment or not &mdash; the CTA should never consider such a dramatic increase in fares.</p><p>&ldquo;People should protest, people should actually revolt,&rdquo; he says, adding that under our scenario, he would have to move &mdash; probably out of Chicago.</p><p>If the CTA wants to break even, Freemark says, the agency has a couple of other options, like increasing ridership. But, he warns &ldquo;if we more than doubled the number of people riding the bus everyday, you&rsquo;d need many, many more buses, so you&rsquo;d dramatically increase the cost of operations of the bus system.&rdquo;</p><p>Translation: You&rsquo;ll just end up spending more than you recover in fares. Freemark says faster buses with dedicated lanes and traffic signal priority would certainly boost ridership, and may bring the buses closer to breaking even. But that scenario would require political changes as well as new capital funds to adapt infrastructure.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Fending for itself</span></p><p>So far, our experiment&rsquo;s gone into the mechanics of what policy-makers and transit planners call the &ldquo;<a href="http://publictransport.about.com/od/Transit_Funding/a/The-Basics-Of-Transit-Funding.htm">farebox recovery ratio</a>,&rdquo; which compares the money collected from transit riders and operating costs. Again, CTA&rsquo;s recovery rate for its bus system was close to 39 percent in 2013. Why doesn&rsquo;t the agency try to break even?</p><p>Some of the answer has to do with the consequences Freemark laid out: If CTA hiked bus fares, it might actually lose riders. But another part of the answer is that the agency&rsquo;s not required to break even. The state of Illinois requires agencies under the Regional Transportation Authority &mdash; including CTA (bus and rail combined), Metra, and Pace &mdash; to collectively meet a 50 percent farebox recovery ratio, meaning that those agencies earn at least about half of their operating costs just through fares.</p><p>The farebox recovery ratio was originally established to prevent transit agencies from building more train and bus lines than the public would use.</p><p>Laurence Msall, President of the <a href="https://www.civicfed.org/">Chicago Civic Federation</a>, a nonpartisan research group that studies fiscal sustainability, says the recovery ratio mandate also ensured that the CTA, along with the other agencies, &ldquo;wasn&rsquo;t running significant deficits, that it was collecting as much as it could in terms of the farebox, and that we weren&rsquo;t giving away the system.&rdquo;</p><p>In recent years, the region has consistently met or surpassed the state-mandated minimum, but on occasion there are calls for CTA to adopt plans to boost recovery rates. (Just one example: During the transit funding crisis of 2007, representative <a href="http://ilga.gov/house/transcripts/htrans95/09517001.pdf">Dave Winters of Rockford argued for fare increases and higher recovery rates</a> in Chicago-area transit agencies: &ldquo;The users of those services need to carry their own weight.&rdquo;)</p><p>As for the CTA&rsquo;s own take on the &ldquo;break even&rdquo; idea, agency spokeswoman Tammy Chase says &ldquo;that&rsquo;s not a calculation that we ever make or would. It&rsquo;s moot for us.&rdquo; She says the agency regards public transportation as a public service, &ldquo;not just providing customers service from Point A to Point B. It&rsquo;s broader than that; there&rsquo;s a broader economic good, for all of the public. It&rsquo;s more than a ride to us.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, the agency does pay attention to basic laws of economics. For example, Chase says CTA determines bus routes based on the projected needs of riders: &ldquo;We pay attention to ridership demand, where the most riders are.&rdquo;</p><p>That translates into a metric the agency calls &ldquo;productivity,&rdquo; or the average number of passengers on a bus during one hour. &ldquo;You want to be ideally between 35 and 55 customers on a bus,&rdquo; Chase says. The CTA&rsquo;s most common buses seat around 35 passengers. &ldquo;If you&rsquo;re getting to above 50 riders, some are standing. It&rsquo;s still a comfortable experience. If you&rsquo;re getting to around 70 people, that&rsquo;s a crowded bus.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/cta/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CTA%20productivity%20screen%20grab%20embed2.png" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="" /></a></div><p>Chase says CTA adjusts schedules, the number of buses and even the size of buses to hit a standard for normal service hours. The overarching goal, she says, is to have no passenger in the city wait more than 30 minutes before the next scheduled bus arrives. (Disruptions in these routes can often lead to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/why-buses-arrive-bunches-110941" target="_blank">&quot;bus bunching,&quot; which is tough to tackle.</a>)</p><p>Adjustments only go so far, though, and the agency does keep run some low-productivity lines. Chase says those examples exemplify how the CTA emphasizes public service over bottom line considerations like breaking even. Several buses provide essential transportation, if only to relatively few people: say, to those who might have no alternative for getting to school, to work, a pharmacy or grocery store.</p><p>Interestingly, even the Civic Federation&rsquo;s Laurence Msall says the break even idea is &ldquo;not a reasonable expectation,&rdquo; and the government needs to subsidize public transit in some form.</p><p>&ldquo;There is a very strong argument to be made that if Chicago, if the State of Illinois was in better financial shape, that it should be investing more in the public transportation system,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;We basically should be reducing even more the cost of riding the CTA to attract more riders or to expand the system.&rdquo;</p><p>Msall says the CTA has struggled with inefficiencies in the past, but right now, he thinks, the system can&rsquo;t get cheaper. It just costs too much to operate. It&rsquo;s worth the price, because CTA buses earn their keep everyday by cutting rush hour traffic and improving air quality.</p><p>Chicagoan Sarah Erwin, who relies almost solely on the CTA system to get around, agrees.</p><p>&ldquo;If you could have really great public transportation, you wouldn&rsquo;t have to have as many cars,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t own a car. We specifically chose Lakeview where we can walk or get public transit or a Zipcar to where we need to go. So, it&rsquo;s vital to us.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">More about our questioner</span></p><p>Fred Pineda got his doctorate at the University of Chicago in medical physics. Now he works at the university developing MRI technology. It makes sense that a science guy would ask such a numbers-heavy question. But Pineda, a native of Mexico City, also regularly rides the CTA, where he spends about two hours on his daily commute. &nbsp;</p><p><em>Christopher Johnson is an independent producer and reporter based in Chicago.</em></p></p> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 17:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/fare-game-when-do-cta-buses-break-even-113884 StoryCorps Chicago: Changed by Friendship http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-changed-friendship-113879 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Sarah Michaelson and Michael Herzovi.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A few years ago, Sarah Michaelson went to see a friend perform in an old-fashioned radio show in front of a live audience. During the show, a man in a wheelchair told a story about how he had never had a girlfriend. Sarah was impressed by his performance and approached him after the show.</p><p>Michael Herzovi and Sarah eventually became Facebook friends. The two recently stopped by the StoryCorps booth to talk about the time she asked him out on their first date.</p><p dir="ltr"><em><a href="http://www.storycorps.org">StoryCorps&rsquo; </a>mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share, record and preserve their stories. These excerpts, edited by WBEZ, present some of our favorites from the current visit, as well as from previous trips.</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>This story was recorded in partnership with the&nbsp;<a href="http://reelabilitieschicago.org/" target="_blank">Reel Abilities Film Festival</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 15:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-changed-friendship-113879 Is a national policy on school milk boosting lunchtime waste? http://www.wbez.org/news/national-policy-school-milk-boosting-lunchtime-waste-113813 <p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">One day this fall, first grader Russell Muchow brought his usual bagged lunch from home to Kellogg Elementary School in the far Southwest Side Beverly neighborhood. &nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">When it came time for lunch, he wanted to have a cold milk. But when he asked for a carton in the lunch line, his mom Molly Muchow says Russell was told, &ldquo;in order to take the milk (he) had to take the lunch.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20151103_122235_resized.jpg" style="height: 500px; width: 281px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Inside school garbage can. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" />But the 6-year-old already had a lunch and if he took a second one, he&rsquo;d just have to throw it away. It didn&rsquo;t make sense to him. So when he got home, Molly Muchow says, &ldquo;he was distraught&rdquo; over being told he had to take food he couldn&#39;t eat. &ldquo;That is not what we teach them at home. We don&rsquo;t throw out food. That is unacceptable.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">Muchow says she called up the Kellogg school &nbsp;lunch director (Chicago Public Schools officials did not respond to WBEZ requests to interview the lunch director.) and basically got the same message: kids can&rsquo;t take free milk unless they take the whole meal.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">&ldquo;So I said I&rsquo;d just pay for the milk extra,&rdquo; Muchow recalled. &ldquo;And [the lunch director] told me it would actually be better for me to have him take the lunch even if he was going to throw it out, for budget reasons, and numbers and for them.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">This may sound outrageous from a food waste perspective, but from a school money angle, it&rsquo;s true.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">That&rsquo;s because for each child who takes the full meal &mdash; which includes an entree with milk and a side of fruits or vegetables</span>&nbsp;&mdash; the U.S. Department of Agriculture pays CPS $3.15, which it shares with the food service company Aramark.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">But if a child just takes a milk, the district and Aramark get nothing from the feds.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">The situation recently dominated a Kellogg Local School Council meeting, but it&rsquo;s an issue that&rsquo;s rooted in federal policy.</span></p><p dir="ltr">&quot;In order for it to be a reimbursable meal by USDA the lunch needs to include all the meal components,&quot; explained USDA regional administrator Tim English. &quot;And that would be a grain, vegetable or fruit, milk and meat or meat alternate. The idea is that we want to provide kids who are taking school lunch with a well-rounded meal.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/8546053033_e95eaad450_k.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="Students and parents at a Chicago public school say that when kids just want a single part of a meal--like a milk to go with a home lunch--they are pushed to take an entire free lunch. The full meal triggers payment from the federal government. Some think this could be generating a lot of food waste in schools. (flickr/USDA)" /></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">But it means kids who just want an egg or banana at breakfast, for instance, must take the rest of the meal, even if it&rsquo;s tossed in the garbage.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">Starting last school year, most &nbsp;districts across the country like Chicago&rsquo;s, with a lot of low-income students, adopted the Community Eligibility Provision. That&rsquo;s a USDA program that &nbsp;makes all meals free to all students in the school or district regardless of income. This reduces mountains of free lunch application paperwork and the need to collect money in the lunchroom.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">Students still have the ability to pay 45 cents for milk out of pocket each day. But Northwestern University economist and professor of social policy Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach says the policy doesn&#39;t make that likely.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">&ldquo;Under these circumstances, if you&rsquo;re getting the same thing and you can choose to pay for it or you can choose to get it for free the vast majority of people will choose to get the same item for free instead of paying for it,&rdquo; she said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">&ldquo;The incentives here are certainly for kids to take what&rsquo;s free and then wastefully dispose of it,&rdquo; she continued, &ldquo;so it seems like there&rsquo;s room for a policy improvement so that kids can get just the milk for free instead of taking the whole meal and then throw part of it away.&rdquo;&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">That policy change would require an act of Congress &mdash; which happens to be reviewing the rules around school lunch right now, albeit at a slow pace.</span></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/nutritionists-raise-glass-whole-milk-new-dietary-guidelines-113390" target="_blank"><span style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/8542429717_dfe01d4a07_k.jpg" style="height: 207px; width: 310px; float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture have teamed up to revise the country’s dietary guidelines, as they have every five years since 1980. They aim to drop the longstanding limit on total fat consumption, which could clear the way for whole milk in school meal programs. (flickr/USDA)" /><span style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span></a></div></div><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">There is, however, a window for a quicker fix. CPS could choose to pick up the 45 cent tab when a student wants just a milk, making the less wasteful option an easy option (We found at least one district in Ohio where the superintendent says he decided to start doing this two months ago in response to food waste).</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">Still, CPS rejects the idea, saying it would just cost too much. And, to be fair, this appears to be the stance of most districts across the nation, according to Tim English, the USDA director for the Midwest.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">So if free milk won&rsquo;t be an option in the district, how are the existing choices presented to students? Are kids told they can bring money to buy a milk? Are they encouraged to take more than they want? </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>We asked CPS to explain exactly how lunch staff are told to present the options, but officials would not talk to us about it. The district also would not give us permission to talk to the Kellogg lunch staff about the procedure they follow on the matter.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">Kellogg parent Jill Zayauskas says she pretty clear about the way the options are handled at her school, and it makes her mad.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">&ldquo;My son was five when he first saw this and if a five-year-old knows wasting food is wrong then the people who plan this program should know that,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I just don&rsquo;t understand why children are forced to throw away a complete lunch to get chocolate milk and actually encouraged to do that so someone can make their quota. It&rsquo;s all about money&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">About half of the money for each meal goes to food service company Aramark, which receives $1.31 for each lunch taken.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">Kellogg mom Emily Lambert says students are getting mixed messages, right when they&rsquo;re in the middle of a food drive.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">&ldquo;My son is coming home every day asking to take food to school to give food to people who don&rsquo;t have it, while in the lunchroom they&#39;re throwing it away,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;They understand that it&rsquo;s wrong to throw away food that you have and you aren&rsquo;t going to eat.&rdquo; &nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">The USDA is also in the middle of its own campaign to reduce food waste by 50 percent in 15 years.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">Monica Eng is a WBEZ food and health reporter. Contact her at </span><a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org">meng@wbez.org</a> or follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a></em></p></p> Tue, 17 Nov 2015 05:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/national-policy-school-milk-boosting-lunchtime-waste-113813 Your school shapes how you think about inequality http://www.wbez.org/news/your-school-shapes-how-you-think-about-inequality-113801 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/school-inequality_custom-99a663b90c86786f3d3b4b3dbe1f61e744183c3b-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res455355841" previewtitle="Two students passing through each other to get a glimpse of another way of life"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Two students passing through each other to get a glimpse of another way of life" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/09/school-inequality_custom-99a663b90c86786f3d3b4b3dbe1f61e744183c3b-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 354px; width: 620px;" title="Two students passing through each other to get a glimpse of another way of life. (LA Johnson/NPR)" /></div><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><p>Ask yourself this question: <em>Were you aware of inequality growing up?</em></p><p>Your answer may depend in part on where you went to high school. Students at racially diverse schools, particularly black and Hispanic students, are more tuned-in to injustice than students going to school mostly with kids that look like them.</p><p>That&#39;s one of the main threads of a new book by Carla Shedd, an assistant professor of sociology and African-American studies at Columbia University. In&nbsp;<em>Unequal City: Race, Schools, and Perceptions of Injustice</em>,&nbsp;Shedd goes straight to the source: the students at four Chicago public high schools. She even let the kids pick their own pseudonyms.</p><p>Two of the schools were largely segregated: one had no white or Asian students. The other two were fairly diverse &mdash; by Chicago standards &mdash; one with about a third white or Asian students and the other, a magnet school, with more than half.</p><p>Shedd followed the schools from 2001 to 2011, a turbulent decade when the city demolished its infamous high-rise public housing units and began closing public schools in large numbers.</p><p>I spoke with Shedd about how school segregation can damage a student&#39;s sense of self.</p><hr /><p><img alt="Unequal City cover" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/bakertaylor/covers/manually-added/unequal-city_custom-e4c22271c64c0ef421fdf85be815ee8c507f32cf-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Cover, Unequal City: Race, Schools, and Perceptions of Injustice, by Carla Shedd" /></p><p><strong>Let&#39;s jump right in. What did the students have to say?</strong></p><p>Black and brown kids going to their neighborhood school, many of them didn&#39;t have the concrete experiences to know that maybe their experiences are unequal. Those kids are very different from the kids who leave their neighborhood and go to a school downtown and sit with classmates very different from them. They see what&#39;s similar and they see what is different. This is mind-blowing for 14-, 15- and 16-year-olds who are making sense of who they are. It will form their perceptions of opportunity.</p><p><strong>So what does that look like from the student perspective?</strong></p><p>Both Alex and TB live on the South Side of Chicago in all-black neighborhoods. Alex travels all the way from the South Side to just north of Chicago&#39;s downtown for his school. He has a racially mixed group of friends and his experiences confirm both his privilege and his disadvantage.</p><p>Alex went on a shopping trip with his friends to the mall downtown. So, he&#39;s in a mixed group of friends, they&#39;re doing something social, and a store security guard believed that one of their group members was shoplifting. The guard approached them and pulled out the three black kids in the group and told them they had to leave. Alex was really stressed by it.</p><p>And the contrast is TB. He has been searched but not arrested multiple times. He still thinks the police are fair. I asked him, &quot;How do you feel when this happens?&quot; And he says, &quot;Doesn&#39;t this happen to everyone?&quot; It&#39;s almost normal for him. TB&#39;s school can&#39;t confirm that what he experiences is not the norm for everyone else.</p><p>So, students of color in segregated schools might be less aware of inequality, but in diverse schools, they might be overwhelmed by it. Where&#39;s the balance?</p><p>With kids in segregated schools, I talk a little about dosage. If they have a lot of these experiences with police &mdash; they&#39;re being stopped and searched &mdash; they&#39;re a little less naive. But for those who this hasn&#39;t happened to so many times, they see it as normal. It&#39;s almost protective in a way.</p><div id="res455803212" previewtitle="Click to subscribe!"><div data-crop-type=""><strong>What about the kids at more diverse schools, like Alex?</strong></div></div><p>In terms of the larger burden for other young people, it&#39;s also something that could be positive, to think about challenges, to think about inequality. It&#39;s a burden, but it&#39;s an important skill set that prepares them later on for inequality with a different face, for working in corporate America and being the only minority or walking down the street and having to disarm people who think they&#39;ll be robbed.</p><p><strong>How does this affect white students?</strong></p><p>There&#39;s a Filipino student who named himself Joaquin. So, Joaquin said after he leaves school, it&#39;s like different species go off into the world. You see the black kids go to a bus or a train line. You see the white kids walking to their homes, some of the most expensive real estate in the city, and the Hispanic kids going to the Brown Line to go to the West Side where they live. He talks about the flows of people at dismissal being so striking, because in school, he doesn&#39;t see that clash of species, as he called it, until everyone is dismissed.</p><p>That&#39;s a very different experience for white students and perhaps Asian students. Otherwise in Chicago, they wouldn&#39;t necessarily have to be in a diverse environment, in light of the options they have for private and parochial schools. It&#39;s almost an anomaly that they&#39;re getting to interact with a diverse group of students. Otherwise they could just be in their segregated lives.</p><p><strong>Is your book an argument for integration?</strong></p><p>I&#39;m not saying kids that go to all-black schools can&#39;t have a great educational experience, but the resources are so starkly divided across these types of schools that are more racially homogeneous, and that&#39;s the problem.</p><p>On the integration front, the positive is not just putting people of different races next to each other, but it also opens up different experiences and perspectives so they can share with one another and think within and across whatever boundaries there are: race, class, gender. It gives them a fuller sense of how the world works.</p><p><strong>What should we take away from your book?</strong></p><p>It is providing some nuance to how young people understand themselves in the world, and it&#39;s also having their voices heard.</p><p>I want [readers] to think concretely about how what happens in school at this formative age shapes the lives of these young people, and it shapes the America we&#39;ll have.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/11/14/454858044/your-school-shapes-how-you-think-about-inequality?ft=nprml&amp;f=454858044" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 16 Nov 2015 11:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/your-school-shapes-how-you-think-about-inequality-113801 StoryCorps Chicago: ‘We want a gay child, but we’d welcome a straight one’ http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-%E2%80%98we-want-gay-child-we%E2%80%99d-welcome-straight-one%E2%80%99-113986 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/91ea8933-4bb3-4578-955d-6ca929856023.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Nelson Long and Alison Smith were two weeks away from their wedding when they visited the Chicago StoryCorps booth in August. Both Nelson and Alison are children of divorce, and both have a parent who is gay. Alison grew up as a preacher&#39;s daughter in southern Illinois and Nelson grew up in a small coal mining town in West Virginia. They had very different childhoods, but the experience they share is an important part of their relationship.</p><div>&nbsp;</div><p dir="ltr"><em><a href="http://www.storycorps.org">StoryCorps</a>&rsquo; mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share, record and preserve their stories. These excerpts, edited by WBEZ, present some of our favorites from the current visit, as well as from previous trips.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 13 Nov 2015 12:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-%E2%80%98we-want-gay-child-we%E2%80%99d-welcome-straight-one%E2%80%99-113986 South Side ‘forward operating base’ serves more than just veterans http://www.wbez.org/news/south-side-%E2%80%98forward-operating-base%E2%80%99-serves-more-just-veterans-113739 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CV2-Doc.JPG" style="height: 405px; width: 540px;" title="Daniel “Doc” Habeel with a picture of his father William George II, who served as a lieutenant in World War II. (WBEZ/Yolanda Perdomo)" /></p><p>Just inside the doors of the <a href="http://www.rtwvetcenter.org/">RTW Veterans Center</a> on S. Martin Luther King Dr. a long hallway is lined with a dozen framed pictures.</p><p>Ranging from abolitionist Frederick Douglas to Henry Flipper, the first black graduate of West Point, to General Colin Powell, it&rsquo;s literally a hall of fame of black servicemen throughout history.</p><p>That history includes RTW&rsquo;s founder Daniel &ldquo;Doc&rdquo; Habeel who served in Vietnam as well as his father, grandfather and other relatives who carried on a military tradition. It also now includes two of Habeel&#39;s children who&rsquo;ve served in Iraq and Afghanistan.</p><p>Habeel decided to open an outpost of the Muslim American Veterans Association several years ago. It was during a MAVA fish fry fundraiser in 2011 that he noticed something.</p><p>&ldquo;Some of the people that came to the fish fry they really didn&rsquo;t have the money that we were looking for $10 a plate all you can eat,&rdquo; said Habeel. &ldquo;What they came with was some change. But we fed them anyway.&rdquo;</p><p>Habeel says some of the same people came back the following day.</p><p>&ldquo;And they wanted to know if there was any fish left,&rdquo; remembered Habeel. &ldquo;And there was and we fed them again.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CV1-building.JPG" style="height: 385px; width: 320px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="RTW has been in the community since 2011. Habeel says they’ve served at least 2,000 people since opening. (WBEZ/Yolanda Perdomo)" /></p><p>Then some showed up on the <em>third </em>day.</p><p>&ldquo;And that day we made a commitment that if anyone comes to this door hungry, they would never leave hungry,&rdquo; said Habeel.</p><p>Shortly afterward, he and his wife Arnetha started the RTW, which stands for Remaking the World. They originally intended to help needy veterans find food, clothing and a place to get out of the cold.</p><p>But they soon realized the needs of the neighborhood were much greater. Habeel said he began to think of their sturdy, three-story graystone as a &quot;forward operating base&quot; in a war zone.</p><p>&ldquo;We have to go in and rescue our neighborhoods,&rdquo; said Habeel. &ldquo;From poverty, gangs, drugs, crime, violence and urban terrorism.&rdquo;</p><p>Hazel Parker comes for lunch everyday at 1 p.m sharp. On this day, she&rsquo;s getting a plate of b-b-q chicken to go. Parker says she spent a year in the Army, not long enough to rack up benefits. Injured in a motorcycle accident in the 1980s, a stroke permanently slurred her speech. Now Parker says fluid behind her knees has forced her to use a wheelchair.</p><p>&ldquo;My leg hurts like hell, said Parker. &ldquo;I need two knee replacement surgeries.&rdquo;</p><p>Parker lives around the corner from the RTW and says it helps everyone in the neighborhood &mdash; no questions asked. There&rsquo;s a community garden on the vacant lot next door. Inside the greystone, one converted bedroom holds canned goods and another has long racks of clothing. On the third floor there&rsquo;s a computer lab for anyone who needs help finding a job.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CV3-Hazel.JPG" style="text-align: center; height: 551px; width: 540px;" title="Hazel Parker gets free meals from RTW every day. (WBEZ/Yolanda Perdomo)" /></p><p>Gwendolyn Washington, a former Army lieutenant, says the staff prepares anywhere from 75 to 150 meals a day for those in need.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re grateful they&rsquo;re here. Especially the little kids after school. They get pastries&rdquo;, said Washington, who recalled passing out hams a few weeks ago. &ldquo;A little boy came up and said &lsquo;could I take one?&rsquo; I said &lsquo;what are you going to do with that ham?&rsquo; He said &lsquo;I&rsquo;m going to take it to my mother.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Habeel says they rely on volunteers and donations from the community to keep the pantry full.</p><p>In the meantime, he&rsquo;s also keeping an eye on what&rsquo;s brewing across the street. If Washington Park is chosen as the site of the new Obama Presidential Center, future commercial development could be built steps away. Habeel isn&rsquo;t opposed to the idea but worries it could displace the RTW and those it serves.</p><p>Habeel says it wouldn&rsquo;t be his first battle for survival. And he promised to follow the old Army Creed ... to never leave a fallen comrade.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ reporter Yolanda Perdomo on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews">@yolandanews</a></em></p></p> Wed, 11 Nov 2015 11:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/south-side-%E2%80%98forward-operating-base%E2%80%99-serves-more-just-veterans-113739 Judge to consider request to toss suit opposing Lucas Museum http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-consider-request-toss-suit-opposing-lucas-museum-113717 <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/AP_212440099910_0.jpg" style="height: 374px; width: 620px;" title="A birds-eye view of the revised museum renderings of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. (AP)" /></div></div><div>City of Chicago attorneys are asking a judge to toss a lawsuit seeking to stop &quot;Star Wars&#39;&quot; filmmaker George Lucas from building a $400 million museum on the shores of Lake Michigan.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That request is the focus of a Tuesday hearing in Chicago federal court. It&#39;s unclear if the judge will rule on Tuesday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The nonprofit Friends of the Parks filed the lawsuit. It argues the museum will violate the public trust because it&#39;ll be built on reclaimed land that was once Lake Michigan.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Plans call for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art to go up near Soldier Field. If all goes according to plan, it could open as soon as 2019.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Lucas&#39; choice of Chicago for the museum was considered a coup for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.</div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 10 Nov 2015 09:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-consider-request-toss-suit-opposing-lucas-museum-113717