WBEZ | Texas http://www.wbez.org/tags/texas Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Husband and wife battle Alzheimer's together http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/husband-and-wife-battle-alzheimers-together-110260 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Capture_10.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Ben Ferguson, 66, and his wife of more than four decades, Robyn, 64, grew up in Texas. It&rsquo;s where they met and fell in love. About a year ago, Ben was diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer&rsquo;s disease. And so the couple moved to Chicago to be closer to their daughter and grandchildren. They recently came to the StoryCorps booth in the Chicago Cultural Center to relive Ben&rsquo;s earliest memories, and to describe what the disease has meant for their family.</p><p>Alzheimer&rsquo;s disease, which negatively impacts the brain&rsquo;s ability to remember things, may affect more than five million Americans, according to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet" target="_blank">National Institute on Aging.</a> That number is growing, however, and could reach as many as 16 million by the year 2050, according to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.alz.org/documents/greaterillinois/statesheet_illinois(1).pdf" target="_blank">Alzheimer&rsquo;s Association of Greater Illinois.</a></p><p>&ldquo;These memories are going to fade,&rdquo; Robyn said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;ve already begun to,&rdquo; Ben said.</p><p>In the booth, the couple talked about how Ben got into all kinds of trouble in elementary and high school. He once wrecked two of the family cars in one day. He was kicked out of several universities, before finding his footing and eventually earning a PhD in Psychology.</p><p>&ldquo;There have always been two sides to you,&rdquo; Robyn said. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re a bad boy. But you&rsquo;re a good boy too. I liked the bad boy first and now I like the good boy better.&rdquo; &ldquo;Yeah, but the bad boy got you,&rdquo; Ben said, laughing.</p><p>When Ben met Robyn, he said it was love at first sight. She thinks the attraction might have been more physical at first. &ldquo;I was pretty sure I wasn&rsquo;t gonna be able to run over you,&rdquo; Ben said. &ldquo;I was definitely sure that you were one of the prettiest women I have ever seen and I had tender feelings toward you.&rdquo; They married two months after meeting. They had two kids, one of whom moved to Chicago.</p><p>Then about a year ago, Ben started showing signs of Alzheimer&rsquo;s. &ldquo;It was the worst thing that&rsquo;s ever happened to me,&rdquo; Ben said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m still trying to figure out how to deal with it.&rdquo;</p><p>Now, Ben and Robyn live in Chicago and enjoy spending time with their grandkids. Ben participates in some long-term research programs at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.brain.northwestern.edu/" target="_blank">Northwestern University&rsquo;s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer&rsquo;s Disease Center (CNADC)</a>. He also takes classes there to help build memory through improvisation and takes part in a buddy program.&nbsp;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/morningshiftwbez/workshop-offers-new-form-of" target="_blank">He and Robyn are part of a storytelling group for Alzheimer&rsquo;s patients and their families.</a></p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ll just keep working on things,&rdquo; Robyn said. &ldquo;I think we&rsquo;re doing really good,&rdquo; he added.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 30 May 2014 15:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/husband-and-wife-battle-alzheimers-together-110260 From Mexico to the Midwest, a heroin supply chain delivers http://www.wbez.org/news/mexico-midwest-heroin-supply-chain-delivers-109320 <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/two-cities_1.jpg" style="border-width: 0px; border-style: solid;" title="El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/123570504&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>If you try to picture a drug trafficker, you will never think of someone like Juan Carlos González.</p><p>He is tall but dumpy. He is 31 years old but his face is so smooth I find myself wondering whether he ever has had to shave. He can puff up and put on a street voice but comes off like a school kid who has been bullied.</p><p>González agreed to meet me in El Paso, Texas, at his lawyer&rsquo;s office, less than a mile from the Mexican border. González, by the way, is not his real name. He spoke on condition we not use it.</p><p>He said he had lived in the El Paso area since age 3, when his mother moved the family from Odessa, his father&rsquo;s hometown, four hours west. &ldquo;My dad was never around,&rdquo; he said. His mom, who was a nurse then a gym teacher, raised him.</p><p>His route into the drug trade is well-traveled. He dropped out of school in 11th grade and started smoking marijuana, he said. Stuck in a fast-food job at a mall, González gravitated toward a certain co-worker.</p><p>&ldquo;I used to smoke with him and I used to always see him in fancy cars &mdash; a BMW, a big old truck, lifted up,&rdquo; he said. It was obvious his friend was working in narcotics. &ldquo;Get a car at that age? I wanted into that life,&rdquo; González told me.</p><p>He turned to his uncle, a marijuana dealer, who helped him into the business. &ldquo;I would bag it up and sell it to my friends,&rdquo; González&nbsp;said.</p><p>Over time, the amounts got bigger and the drugs got harder. As González kept getting in deeper, he knew he was betraying his mother. &ldquo;She&rsquo;s been there for me through all my troubles,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Here is where his story becomes less familiar to anyone who did not grow up along the border. El Paso has four bridges to Ciudad Juárez, a Mexican city where kids such as González would go to party. &ldquo;You would be able to drink until 7 or 8 the next morning,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>He found out it was much cheaper in Juárez to buy the drugs he was dealing. And it wasn&rsquo;t hard to cross back into the United States with the products. &ldquo;Coke and all that, with a girl or anybody, and just stash it in your pocket or anything, like you were drunk, and get it over,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Every time, every weekend, that&rsquo;s what we would do.&rdquo;</p><p>The Mexican city was also a great place to network. &ldquo;Say you and I are partying in Juárez at a club and we&rsquo;re cool and we see each other every time,&rdquo; González said. &ldquo;And then we start talking and, if we end up smoking, then it comes out that you have a cousin up in Atlanta, Dallas or Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>González was on his way to building a freight network that fed Chicago a range of drugs, including heroin.</p><p><strong>MOST OF CHICAGO&rsquo;S HEROIN</strong> comes from Mexico, according to narcotics authorities,&nbsp;and the crucial entry point is El Paso.</p><p>&ldquo;The reason I&rsquo;m telling you that is our cases still go back and forth&rdquo; between Chicago and El Paso, said Jack Riley, special agent in charge of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration division that covers most of Illinois and four other Midwest states. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s how we know.&rdquo;</p><p>When I visited El Paso and Ciudad Juárez myself, I kept hearing a similar line but from the supplier perspective: If you want to sell drugs throughout the Midwest, you need Chicago.</p><p>I also saw that the drug demand up north had brought a flood of cheap heroin to Juárez, the last Mexican city along Chicago&rsquo;s supply chain. Signs of the heroin trade were all around Juárez&rsquo;s central area.</p><p>In a busy market district, I saw a dozen addicts pacing near a dark shop, waiting for a heroin retailer to come out with their midday fix. When she finally emerged, the addicts converged on her like zombies.</p><p>Within a couple miles were several shooting galleries &mdash; what Mexicans call <em>picaderos</em>. I visited one, a dusty outdoor space between two cinder-block homes. There was no ceiling except for a few wood planks and old blankets. There was no place to sit except for a filthy cushion and an old couch covered by a dirty blanket.</p><p>The gallery did have two &ldquo;doctors,&rdquo; themselves heroin addicts. They lacked medical training but worked around-the-clock to help customers with injections. (A jones can bring trembling that makes it hard to shoot up.)</p><p>Within 10 minutes of my arrival, a 24-year-old woman in an orange baseball cap entered the gallery and handed one of the doctors her dose, roughly a quarter gram wrapped in foil. The heroin was dark and gummy, the size of a pea. The doctor mixed it with water over a match flame to melt it down. Then he filled a syringe &mdash; a clean one provided by a local health promoter.</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/JuarezShootingGallery-big.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left;" title="A ‘doctor’ at a Ciudad Juárez shooting gallery charges customers 10 pesos — or the equivalent in heroin — for help injecting the drug. (WBEZ/Luis Perea)" /></div><p>The customer directed the doctor to a vein on the back of her hand. First he drew blood into the syringe, confirming the needle had hit the target. Then he pressed the syringe&rsquo;s plunger, sending the heroin on its way.</p><p>The doctors helped three customers in a half hour. They charged each 10 pesos (about $0.75) or the equivalent in heroin. They told me a standard dose cost 50 pesos (less than $4) from any of several retailers within a couple blocks.</p><p>A street gang supplied by a drug cartel controls the sales in that part of Juárez. The gang also earns money by smuggling drugs to El Paso for distribution elsewhere in the United States.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/JuarezGangMember1.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 240px; width: 250px;" title="A gang member in central Ciudad Juárez, the Mexican border city, says he uses a backpack to smuggle heroin into El Paso, Texas. (WBEZ/Luis Perea)" />I tracked down a mid-level member of the gang. We met in his kitchen. As I fumbled with my equipment, he stood still and silent in the corner. At least, I assumed that was him. He was wearing a hood and cloth mask.</p><p>I showed him I was just recording sound &mdash; no pictures or names. He agreed to sit down and take the mask off. He told me he was 34 and that he quit school in 4th grade.</p><p>&ldquo;My father was the one who started selling drugs,&rdquo; he said, adding that the man was killed as cartels swept away independent operators in Juárez.</p><p>The young man&rsquo;s gang aligned with one of the cartels. Now, he said, he spends a lot of time around a safe house &ldquo;packing drugs in backpacks and hiding them in cars.&rdquo;</p><p>Once in a while, he said, he had served as a mule himself. He said he had carried backpacks loaded with heroin to an El Paso stash house.</p><p><strong>THAT JOB IS NOT AS HARD</strong> as you may think. Heroin is not bulky like marijuana. By weight, it sells for more than twice the price of cocaine. An amount worth thousands of dollars fits in a pocket, shoe or bra. Multimillion-dollar loads turn up in suitcases, dashboards, bumpers, even drive shafts.</p><p>&ldquo;There is some sneaky stuff,&rdquo; said González, back in his attorney&rsquo;s office in El Paso, describing cars and trucks rigged with hidden compartments that open using magnets and secret levers. &ldquo;There is some Inspector Gadget stuff there.&rdquo;</p><p>With millions of pedestrian and vehicle crossings from Juárez every year, U.S. authorities find just a small fraction of the drugs.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PasoDelNorte-square1.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Cars and trucks wait in a two-hour line to reach the U.S. checkpoint on Paso del Norte, one of four bridges linking El Paso, Texas, to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. Millions of vehicles enter the United States on those bridges each year, making it difficult for authorities to find hidden narcotics. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></div></div></div><p>González found opportunities. &ldquo;You meet truckers, party, drink and you just ask them right there: &lsquo;Hey, you know what? Would you like to take a load? I&rsquo;ll pay you this much money.&rsquo; &rdquo;</p><p>He worked up to bigger loads. That brought him closer to the leaders of a cartel. He says he worked mainly in cocaine and marijuana.</p><p>González&nbsp;moved other products too: &ldquo;They would call me and tell me, &lsquo;Hey, I have 10 keys of heroin going to Chicago. Can you get them for me?&rsquo; I would be like, &lsquo;Yes.&rsquo; &rdquo;</p><p>The retail price for that much smack, if pure, could exceed $4 million, according to data from the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy.</p><p>González&rsquo;s truckers would carry legal cargo as well, so sometimes could not bring the heroin all the way to where the cartel bosses had ordered it. &ldquo;Say they wanted it in Maywood, but the trucker&rsquo;s route went to Kankakee,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>González would have to line up more personnel. &ldquo;You got to worry about who is going to hold it for you and who is going transport it for you,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>González directed one busy driver to acquire an 18-wheeler with a phony load so it would be ready to roll anywhere. &ldquo;I told him, &lsquo;Buy your own truck and buy your own trailer and buy yourself a whole trailer of some bullshit-ass fenders,&rsquo; &rdquo; he said.</p><p>González&rsquo;s business flourished, but there was no way to eliminate risks. &ldquo;You got to know who you are dealing with,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If the person gets caught, he can rat you out.&rdquo;</p><p>For truckers who got arrested, González said he would arrange the defense lawyer and pay the tab if he &ldquo;liked the person and he was really going to keep his mouth shut.&rdquo;</p><p>Snitches were not the biggest hazards. If a load went missing and González could not convince the cartel that cops had seized it, he would have to pay for it himself, he said. And if he did not have the money, he said, &ldquo;I would get killed.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>THE SUPPLY CHAIN WAS NOT</strong> always so dangerous. &ldquo;The chain dates back to the 1920s at least,&rdquo; University of Texas at El Paso anthropologist Howard Campbell pointed out.</p><p>For decades, the main product was heroin. Family-run businesses cultivated and processed the opium poppy a few hundred miles south in a mountainous region spanning the states of Chihuahua, Durango and Sinaloa.</p><p>Many heroin loads converged on Torreón, a city on the main highway north. From there, Campbell said, &ldquo;the drugs would be trucked up, or driven up in a car, to Ciudad Juárez.&rdquo;</p><p>Until the mid-1970s, the Juárez heroin trade was controlled by one person &mdash; a woman named Ignacia Jasso la Viuda de González, better known as La Nacha.</p><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ignacia%20jasso%20vdaCROP.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 294px; width: 250px;" title="Ignacia Jasso la Viuda de González, photographed during a Ciudad Juárez booking in 1942, controlled Mexico's main heroin corridor for decades. (Photo courtesy of Bob Chessey)" /></div><p>&ldquo;She would obtain supplies of opium and heroin and sell them locally in Juárez and to American and other traffickers that would bring them into the United States &mdash; to Albuquerque, Kansas City, St. Louis and Chicago,&rdquo; Campbell said. &ldquo;She ran this business for almost 50 years with very little violence.&rdquo;</p><p>Things have changed. &ldquo;The supplies have increased over time as the number of heroin addicts has increased,&rdquo; Campbell pointed out. The product line, meanwhile, has expanded to include drugs from South America and Asia.</p><p>&ldquo;These businesses that were formerly run by families or individuals are now run by quasi-corporate entities called drug cartels,&rdquo; Campbell said. &ldquo;The violence in Mexico has skyrocketed in the last 10-12 years as the businesses have become more competitive and new cartels have emerged.&rdquo;</p><p>The most powerful cartel in Juárez these days is Sinaloa, whose name comes from one of those heroin-producing states. U.S. authorities say the Sinaloa Cartel supplies most of the heroin consumed in Chicago.</p><p>The people in charge of hauling the product &mdash; folks like González &mdash; don&rsquo;t typically have to line up the buyers on the Chicago end. That is the cartel&rsquo;s job.</p><p>And if you think the big buyers are street gangs, think again. An El Paso man who helped manage U.S. logistics for the Sinaloa Cartel told me the top Chicago wholesalers are middle-class business people.</p><p>He recalled signing some on: &ldquo;My cartel associate told me that he needed to meet them in person before we sent the dope up to Chicago. So they flew over, stayed at a hotel. After they were there a few hours in El Paso, I drove them to Juárez, to a nice restaurant to talk to my cartel associate. I translated for them &mdash; how many pounds of this or pounds of that they can move.&rdquo;</p><p>The former logistics manager said the meeting went without a hitch. &ldquo;My cartel associate liked these guys from Chicago and he had a friend that owned a strip club,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So they took them out to the club, and got them four girls and they went to hotels and everybody got laid there.&rdquo;</p><p>There were benefits, yes, and there were commissions. González said he rarely managed more than three loads a month and still earned as much as $360,000 a year. &ldquo;I thought I was bad-ass,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><strong>THEN GONZALEZ GOT BUSTED</strong> and all the money seemed trivial, he said. I agreed not to report specifics about his legal situation except that he served most of a three-year sentence in a federal prison more than a thousand miles from El Paso.</p><p>González told his mother &mdash; the gym teacher who always stood by him &mdash; that she could not visit. He said he did not want her hard-earned money spent on the airfare.</p><p>Once he got out, though, he had to face her. &ldquo;When I saw her from the time I was in, she had aged,&rdquo; he said, burying his face in his jacket and weeping. &ldquo;I felt bad. That&rsquo;s what did it.&rdquo;</p><p>If he went to prison again, he said, &ldquo;she would lose it.&rdquo;</p><p>González told me he is starting a trucking company that is above-board. But it could be almost impossible for him to stay at the border and work in the freight business legally.</p><p>He has the logistics experience but also the felony-narcotics record. And his cartel contacts will not forget about him anytime soon. He may have no way out&nbsp;of the drug-supply chain.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1" target="_blank">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud" target="_blank">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me" target="_blank">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1" target="_blank">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 06 Dec 2013 09:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/mexico-midwest-heroin-supply-chain-delivers-109320 Driver licenses for undocumented youths? http://www.wbez.org/news/driver-licenses-undocumented-youths-101986 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/immigrant%20map.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 369px; width: 600px; " title="WBEZ asked eight states whether they are planning to provide driver’s licenses to immigrants who receive Social Security and employment-authorization cards as a result of President Barack Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” policy. (WBEZ map by Elliott Ramos)" /></p><p>Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio are planning to provide driver&rsquo;s licenses to undocumented immigrants who get work papers under a new federal policy.</p><p>The Obama administration policy, called &ldquo;Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,&rdquo; will allow as many as 1.7 million illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children to get Social Security and employment-authorization cards, along with a deportation reprieve. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications Aug. 15.</p><p>&ldquo;As long as the Social Security Administration issues an individual with a Social Security number, and they have the other documents that are required under Illinois law, then they can apply for a driver&rsquo;s license,&rdquo; said Henry Haupt, spokesman for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who oversees that state&rsquo;s driver licensing.</p><p>WBEZ surveyed eight Midwestern states about their response to the policy change. Along with the four states planning to provide licenses, Wisconsin and Iowa officials said they had not decided yet, while Minnesota and Missouri officials did not respond to numerous WBEZ inquiries.</p><p>The states planning to issue the driver&rsquo;s licenses differ from Arizona, Nebraska and Texas, where governors have vowed to block illegal immigrants from getting licenses.</p><p>The immigrants must meet several requirements to get the Social Security and work-authorization cards, including having been younger than 31 on June 15; having arrived in the U.S. before turning 16; having lived in the country continuously since June 2007; being a student or graduate, or having served in the military; and having no serious criminal record nor posing any public safety threat. The work authorization will last up to two years and, if the federal policy stays in place, be renewable. The policy does not provide a path to citizenship.</p><p>Assuming some of the immigrants have been driving illegally, states that enable them to get a license could make roads safer. &ldquo;They have to pass the road exam, they have to pass the written exam, and they pass the vision test,&rdquo; Haupt said about Illinois. &ldquo;We require so many different things of our young drivers and &mdash; by doing so &mdash; they, of course, become better drivers.&rdquo;</p><p>Illinois also requires proof of liability insurance on the car the driver uses for the road test. So it&rsquo;s possible that allowing undocumented immigrants to drive legally could reduce the number of uninsured vehicles.</p><p>The immigrants themselves have more at stake. Karen Siciliano Lucas, an advocacy attorney of the Washington-based Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., points out that driver&rsquo;s licenses are vital for working and attending school in most regions of the country. &ldquo;Not only that, it is a state-issued identification that shows who you are,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The issue is complicated because most states require driver&rsquo;s&nbsp;license applicants to prove &ldquo;lawful status&rdquo; or &ldquo;legal presence&rdquo; in the United States. Officials in some states say the work authorization under the Obama policy will be sufficient proof. But a USCIS statement says the policy &ldquo;does not confer lawful status upon an individual.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s unclear whether courts will enable states to define lawful status differently than the federal government does.</p><p>States expecting Obama administration guidance about the driver&rsquo;s licenses could be waiting awhile. In response to WBEZ questions, the Department of Homeland Security sent a statement saying the department does not comment on state-specific matters.</p><p>Until federal courts weigh in, states are likely to face lawsuits no matter their course. &ldquo;We will see battles on this,&rdquo; Lucas predicted.</p><p>Making matters more complicated is the federal Real ID Act, a 2005 law aimed at fighting identity theft and keeping terrorists out of federal buildings and airplanes. Among other things, the act requires states to verify that driver&rsquo;s license applicants have lawful status in the United States.</p><p>The law is set to take effect in January, but it&rsquo;s not clear how the Obama administration will enforce it. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has fought for the measure&rsquo;s repeal, calling it unworkable.</p><p>That irks advocates for tougher immigration enforcement: &ldquo;If you want to protect against identify theft, you&rsquo;ve got to eliminate the fraud,&rdquo; said Janice Kephart, who focuses on national security policies for the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies. &ldquo;That means you have to eliminate the illegal-alien community out of that scheme. It doesn&rsquo;t mean that states cannot give driver&rsquo;s licenses to illegal aliens. It just means that they have to do it outside the Real ID Act.&rdquo;</p><p>Kephart praised Utah, which has created a &ldquo;driving privilege card&rdquo; specifically for undocumented immigrants.</p><p>At the moment the only other states that let undocumented immigrants drive legally are New Mexico and Washington, which provide them the same licenses that U.S. citizens can get.</p></p> Mon, 27 Aug 2012 13:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/driver-licenses-undocumented-youths-101986 Navistar layoffs add to doubts about incentives http://www.wbez.org/content/navistar-layoffs-add-doubts-about-incentives <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-23/AP05060901633.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="The workers helped design International brand trucks. (AP/File)" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-23/Navistar_truck_SCALED.jpg" style="margin: 9px 18px 5px 1px; float: left; width: 308px; height: 207px;" title="The workers helped design International brand trucks. (AP/File)">Sears Holdings Corp. and Chicago’s financial exchanges have quit threatening to pull up stakes now that Illinois has enacted tax breaks for them. But it remains unclear whether state incentives to big companies are wise uses of economic-development resources. A personnel shift by Lisle-based Navistar International Corp. will add fresh doubt.</p><p>WBEZ has learned that some new jobs Navistar promised under an Illinois incentive agreement are coming to the state at the expense of unionized workers in Indiana.</p><p>Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced the Navistar incentives last year after the company threatened to pack up its headquarters in west suburban Warrenville and leave the state. The deal committed Illinois to a $64.7 million bundle of tax credits and job-training subsidies for the company. It committed Navistar to moving the headquarters to Lisle, a couple miles east, and to adding 400 full-time Illinois employees.</p><p>Navistar’s first report to the state about the jobs isn’t due until next year, so it’s hard to tell how many positions the company has created thus far. Employees confirm that dozens of new engineers and designers are working at the Lisle facility.</p><p>Navistar is creating those jobs as it phases out its Truck Development and Technology Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana, just three hours southeast of Chicago. The latest Fort Wayne cuts came December 2, when the company laid off 130 employees, mostly engineers and designers who are United Auto Workers members. Before the layoff, some of the Fort Wayne workers had to help train their Lisle replacements.</p><p>Navistar has “rewritten the job descriptions so the people that used to do the work here — the union folks — don’t qualify anymore on paper,” said Craig Randolph, a design engineer the company laid off after 15 years at the Fort Wayne center. “So they’re eliminating the high-seniority, older employees like myself and replacing them with nonunion college kids — guys fresh out of school. And the taxpayers in Illinois are subsidizing the whole thing.”</p><p>Asked for a response, Navistar spokeswoman Karen Denning called it unusual for engineers to have union representation in the first place, a claim disputed by auto industry experts. Denning also sent a statement that said the company’s decision to shift the Fort Wayne jobs to Lisle was “based solely on our desire to compete in the global economy.” The statement added that Navistar has allowed many Fort Wayne employees to relocate to the Chicago area and stay with the company.</p><p>The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity sent a statement that doesn’t directly address whether the Navistar incentives have anything to do with the Fort Wayne layoffs. The statement says the state’s assistance to companies like Navistar over the last decade has “created and retained tens of thousands of jobs,” including unionized positions.</p><p>There’s not much proof to back up such claims. Scholars who study the effects of corporate incentives point out that companies decide where to operate based on proximity to suppliers, markets, transportation and so on. Another factor is whether workers are bargaining collectively. Just this summer, Navistar announced it was closing a unionized plant in Chatham, Ontario. The company has moved that work to nonunion facilities in Texas and Mexico.</p><p>“I don’t think that the [Illinois] incentives are causing Navistar to shift around its workforce,” said Rachel Weber, an associate professor of Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “But they do send a message that the public sector and taxpayers are validating these kinds of activities. And, if you asked a lot of taxpayers in the state of Illinois whether they’d want to support these kinds of activities, I don’t think they’d be so happy about it.”</p><p>Weber pointed out that the economies of Illinois and Indiana intertwine closely and said it would help both states to quit poaching jobs from each other. Eliminating state incentives for corporations, she added, would free up resources for everything from workforce readiness to small-business incubation.</p><p>The union, for its part, didn’t return calls about the Fort Wayne layoffs and isn’t creating a public fuss about them. That raises questions about the role of UAW Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Williams, who serves on Navistar’s board of directors under a decades-old agreement that reserved the seat for the union. Because Williams draws salaries from both the UAW and Navistar, and because he once directed a UAW region that includes Illinois but not Indiana, some of the union’s Fort Wayne members accuse him of hanging them out to dry.</p></p> Fri, 23 Dec 2011 16:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/navistar-layoffs-add-doubts-about-incentives Settlement could lead to big park for Mexican neighborhood http://www.wbez.org/story/settlement-could-lead-big-park-mexican-neighborhood-90552 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-12/00_580x350_parks6.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The city of Chicago could be near the end of a five-year legal battle for control of a former industrial site with potential to help form a 24-acre park. If an eminent-domain settlement holds up, the land could be an asset for a Mexican-American area of the Southwest Side.<br> <br> Cook County Circuit Court Judge Sanjay T. Tailor this week signed off on the deal, under which the city will pay more than $7.5 million for about 19 acres owned by 2600 Sacramento Corp.<br> <br> “I don’t get a penny,” company owner Joanne Urso said Friday afternoon. The money will go to the Cook County Treasurer’s Office and remain there as Urso tries to settle with a bank that has filed suit to foreclose on the property, according to her attorney.<br> <br> Urso’s land could combine with an adjacent five acres the city already controls. The park would total about five blocks, all just west of South Sacramento Avenue and north of West 31st Street. The perimeter would pass residential buildings, industrial properties and the Cook County Jail.<br> <br> Activists in the Little Village neighborhood hailed the settlement. “We have not seen any park development in over 75 years,” said Kim Wasserman, executive director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization.<br> <br> Wasserman said the deal could inspire other neighborhoods to push for public amenities and services. “Regardless of language and regardless of immigration status, as long as there is determination in these communities, we can continue to get the things that we need,” she said.<br> <br> The park concept has the backing of the local alderman. “That’s what we’re pushing for,” said Juan Manzano, an aide to Ald. George Cárdenas, 12th Ward.<br> <br> The property served industrial manufacturers for more than 70 years, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Their output included asphalt, coal tar and driveway sealer. Celotex Corp. made roofing products on the site from 1967 to 1982, the EPA says.<br> <br> Allied Chemical and Dye Corp. purchased that operation. A series of mergers and acquisitions turned Allied into New Jersey-based Honeywell International Inc. The corporation dismantled the Celotex facilities between 1991 and 1993, according to the EPA. Urso’s company bought the property later.<br> <br> After cancer-linked chemicals turned up in nearby homes and yards, the EPA designated the area a Superfund site. A Honeywell cleanup consisted largely of covering the land with gravel. The cleanup finished last year, the agency says in a statement.<br> <br> Chicago filed the eminent-domain suit in 2006. The case became more complicated in August 2010, when Texas-based United Central Bank filed the foreclosure suit, a nearly $10 million claim, in federal court. The loan involves both the Celotex site and another Urso property.<br> <br> The city’s payment for Urso's land will consist of $6 million from the Chicago Park District and more than $1.5 million from city general-obligation bonds, according to Jennifer Hoyle, a spokeswoman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.<br> <br> But the timeframe for creating the park is not clear. Ownership of Urso’s property will transfer to Chicago upon payment, due September 7, but the city is not specifying a date for turning over the acreage to the Park District. “Possibly later this year,” Hoyle wrote Friday afternoon.<br> <br> A possible obstacle is a Chicago Fire Department facility on the adjacent five acres.</p><p>The biggest challenge could be funding the park construction. Wasserman’s group is calling for playgrounds, a farm, sports fields, an amphitheater and a community center. Building all those amenities could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, the group says.</p></p> Fri, 12 Aug 2011 22:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/settlement-could-lead-big-park-mexican-neighborhood-90552 Gov. Perry tries to keep focus on God, not politics http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-06/gov-perry-tries-keep-focus-god-not-politics-90223 <p><p>It could have been a typical service at any megachurch in the South, with a tight band, a great choir, big-screen projection, and a large congregation swaying and praying. But the speaker who drew the biggest response at the prayer rally in Houston on Saturday was Texas Gov. Rick Perry, looking resplendent in a red tie and his much-envied mane of dark hair.</p><p>The often combative Republican governor did not attack his nemesis, Barack Obama, who Perry often accuses of overreaching and whom he may try to defeat at the polls next year.</p><p>In fact, Perry prayed for him.</p><p>"In these difficult times, father, we pray for our president, that you would impart your wisdom on him, that you would guard his family," he told a crowd of about 30,000 Christians at Reliant Stadium.</p><p>Perry seemed to take pains to de-politicize the event and turn it toward the Almighty.</p><p>"His agenda is not a political agenda," he said. "His agenda is a salvation agenda."</p><p>In the weeks leading up to it, the gathering had been widely criticized as a cynical creation of the governor to get an early lock on the religious right. Critics took note of the involvement of religious/political activists — men like David Lane and David Barton, well known in the Lone Star State for their talents at mobilizing Christian voters.</p><p>Perry shrugged off such talk.</p><p>"He's a wise God and he's wise enough to not be affiliated with any political party," he said to applause.</p><p>Later, Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas took the stage to read from Second Chronicles and the Book of Matthew. Gov. Rick Scott of Florida sent a pre-recorded message. Nationally prominent Christian leaders attended, such as James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, and Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention. The long list of speakers also included the controversial televangelist Pastor John Hagee of San Antonio's Cornerstone Church.</p><p>Outside, protesters lined the sidewalk, holding signs that read slogans like, "Pastor Perry Must Resign." Some of the demonstrators belonged to an atheist organization that sued unsuccessfully to stop the event, called The Response. Overhead, a small plane pulled a banner reading: "God keep state, church separated."</p><p>Back inside the arena, that sentiment was amplified by the Rev. Barry Lynn, longtime director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, who flew down from Washington for the occasion.</p><p>"I've never seen any event that is created as a religious event but crafted by politician," he said. "But if any wall between elected officials and their religious faith was breached, it did not seem to bother those in attendance. Indeed, they relished Rick Perry's unvarnished profession of fealty to Jesus."</p><p>Linda Faust, a pastor's wife in Cleveland, about an hour from Houston, served as a usher at the event.</p><p>"I don't know many governors that call for fasting and prayer for a nation. And I applaud Gov. Perry for doing that," she said. "He didn't have to do that."</p><p>To humor the cynics for a moment: If the 61-year-old governor wanted to start rounding up evangelical votes for a soon-to-be-announced run for the White House, he made a very good head-start. Jason Cole, who drove a bus from the Church of Glad Tidings in Austin, was impressed.</p><p>"Yeah, I think it would be extremely beneficial to our nation to hear some of our top leaders, especially if he gets elected as president, to take stands like this," Cole said, "and preach from the White House, ultimately from the White House."</p><p>Later, Cole and his wife, Patty, closed their eyes tightly and held each other in an intimate prayer, unaware of the microphone.</p><p>"Take this time, Lord God, and allow it to infiltrate our lives. Not just this Saturday at Reliant Stadium, but father God everyday — in streets, home, cities, counties, Lord God," he said, "across our nation light a fire."</p><p>More than choosing a candidate for president, this is the hope that most people at the revival seemed to want to take home. <div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1312690026?&gn=Gov.+Perry+Tries+To+Keep+Focus+On+God%2C+Not+Politics&ev=event2&ch=1014&h1=Around+the+Nation,Religion,Politics,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=139056354&c7=1014&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1014&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110806&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=10&v21=D%3Dc2&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></div></p></p> Sat, 06 Aug 2011 20:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-06/gov-perry-tries-keep-focus-god-not-politics-90223 A BBQ pilgrimage for LTH Forum’s Gary Wiviott http://www.wbez.org/story/bbq-pilgrimage-lth-forum%E2%80%99s-gary-wiviott-88592 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-30/Gary Wiviott_Flickr_ALA.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Gary Wiviott has some serious foodie credentials as the founder of the wildly popular culinary chat site <a href="http://lthforum.com/bb/index.php">LTH Forum</a>. On LTH, named for Chinatown’s <a href="http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=3716">Little Three Happiness</a>, commenters parse the latest offerings from beloved neighborhood joints like <a href="../../story/dessert/secret-history-indiana-pie">Hoosier Mama Pie Company</a> and debate the merits of northern vs. southern Thai food.</p><p>Despite the site’s popularity it was not a financial success, and Wiviott has been plagued by money troubles in recent years. He <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/food/stew/chi-bankruptcy-puts-lth-forum-up-for-sale-20110601,0,5117274.story">was forced to file for bankruptcy protection</a> in November of 2010 and put the site up for auction. The <em>Tribune</em> reported Wednesday that <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-06-29/features/chi-lth-forum-sold-for-40000-20110629_1_great-neighborhood-restaurants-awards-chowhound-boards-web-sites">the forum has been sold</a> for $40,000 to a group of long-time contributors who say they plan to keep its basics intact.</p><p>Given his background, it makes sense that Wiviott would be a food obsessive, who once, for example, spent the better part of a year making miso soup from scratch every day for breakfast. He later transferred his passions to barbeque, penning the somewhat audaciously titled <a href="http://www.lowslowbbq.com/?page_id=3">Low &amp; Slow: Everything You Know About BBQ is Wrong</a>.</p><p>His book outlines the self-described “BBQ Mussolini’s” strict 5-step program that aims to help serious ‘Q-ers unlock the secrets of the smoker. Wiviott insists you throw away your lighter fluid, and eventually your store-bought rubs and sauces, in favor of carefully built, clean-burning fires and homemade brine.</p><p>In a 2009 talk given to the Culinary Historians of Chicago, Wiviott described a Texas trip that radically changed his grilling perspective. As you fire up your grills this holiday weekend, you may want to consider his epiphany, or check out the tips from his lessons. The former is in the excerpt above, and the latter is in the full audio, posted <a href="../../episode-segments/low-and-slow-bbq">here</a>.</p><p><a href="../../series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified’s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Gary Wiviott spoke at an event presented by <a href="http://www.culinaryhistorians.org/">Culinary Historians of Chicago</a> in July of 2009. Click <a href="../../episode-segments/low-and-slow-bbq">here</a> to hear the event in its entirety.</p></p> Thu, 30 Jun 2011 20:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/bbq-pilgrimage-lth-forum%E2%80%99s-gary-wiviott-88592 Veterans to Army: Quit deploying mentally ill GIs http://www.wbez.org/story/veterans-army-quit-deploying-mentally-ill-gis-87176 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-27/Fort_Hood.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Memorial Day is a time to honor fallen military members, but some Chicago-area veterans will try to draw attention to soldiers on active duty.<br> <br> A Monday morning ceremony downtown will focus on Fort Hood, a huge Army base in Texas. It’s been reported that 22 soldiers committed suicide there last year and another 5 this year.<br> <br> Former Navy machinist’s mate David Van Dam, 23, said the military is sending too many GIs into combat despite serious mental injuries, including post-traumatic stress syndrome, traumatic brain injury and military-sexual trauma.<br> <br> “They could be diagnosed by a medical professional and still be sent to a war zone multiple times,” said Van Dam, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, which is demanding a tripling of mental health professionals at Fort Hood.<br> <br> A statement from the base says Fort Hood already provides aggressive behavioral-health treatment. The statement says the staffing for those services has increased more than 35 percent over the last two years.<br> <br> The ceremony’s sponsors include IVAW, Vietnam Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace.</p></p> Mon, 30 May 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/veterans-army-quit-deploying-mentally-ill-gis-87176 Texas To Students: For Spring Break, Don't Mess With Mexico http://www.wbez.org/story/around-nation/2011-03-02/texas-students-spring-break-dont-mess-mexico-83271 <p><p>It's March — and that means spring break is around the corner for many college students. But Texas officials are advising students to avoid going to Mexico, saying that drug violence there isn't isolated to border areas.</p><p>The Texas Department of Public Safety put out a document today <a href="http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/director_staff/public_information/pr030111.pdf">listing potential dangers</a> to students traveling to Mexico for their schools' holiday. DPS officials also urged travelers to do careful research before any trip.</p><p></p><p>Here are more details from John Burnett:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>The warning from DPS Director Steve McCraw is direct: "Avoid traveling to Mexico during Spring Break and stay alive."</p><p>He cites worsening drug-related violence and mayhem occurring not only in Mexico's northern border states, but throughout the country.</p><p>The current U.S. State Department Travel Warning for Mexico—dated September 2010—is slightly less alarming. It says while the security situation all over Mexico poses risks for U.S. citizens, resorts and tourist areas do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region.</p><p>The State Department advises the more than 100,000 young Americans who flock to Mexican beach resorts over spring break every year to practice situational awareness, common sense, and phone home periodically to inform family members of their safety and whereabouts.</p><p></blockquote></p><p>For updates on conditions in Mexico, you can check the <a href="http://mexico.usembassy.gov/eng/eacs_MexicoSecurityUpdate.html">U.S. Embassy in Mexico site</a>. As of this writing, three warnings — in Nuevo Laredo, Nuevo Leon and Guadalajara — are listed.</p><p>And for anyone who just can't stay away from Mexico this spring, the State Department also has a "<a href="http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/spring_break_mexico/spring_break_mexico_5014.html">Know Before You Go</a>" page, listing the basics of traveling (and returning) safely. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1299101526?&gn=Texas+To+Students%3A+For+Spring+Break%2C+Don%27t+Mess+With+Mexico&ev=event2&ch=103943429&h1=National+News,Mexico,Texas,The+Two-Way,Around+the+Nation,Education,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=134204739&c7=1091&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1091&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110302&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=127602855,126951864,126939549,103943429&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Wed, 02 Mar 2011 14:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/around-nation/2011-03-02/texas-students-spring-break-dont-mess-mexico-83271