WBEZ | Politics http://www.wbez.org/news/politics Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Two neighboring states, one big financial gap http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/two-neighboring-states-one-big-financial-gap-110718 <p><p>George Brown of Valparaiso, Indiana, works for a steel mill these days, but at one time, his main gig was construction &mdash; across the state border in Chicago. The commute and that &ldquo;living in both worlds&rdquo; familiarity didn&rsquo;t prevent him from noting differences between the two states. Among them: The differing fortunes of state government.</p><p>He had picked up details here and there about how Illinois owed money (the state comptroller recently said Illinois has more than $5 billion in unpaid bills), how the Prairie State was hounded by bills coming down the pike (it has approximately $100 billion in unfunded pension liabilities), and how it has the worst credit rating among U.S. states.</p><p>On the other hand, just a few years ago, Indiana&rsquo;s coffers were so flush that it returned money to state taxpayers.</p><p>The night-and-day financial picture between the neighboring states got him wondering enough that he sent us this question:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Why does the state of Illinois have a huge deficit, while next door Indiana has a surplus?</em></p><p>George&rsquo;s question couldn&rsquo;t come at a better time. Voters on the Illinois side of the border are deciding between candidates for governor, either of which is certain to confront some hard fiscal realities. The contest between the incumbent Democrat, Gov. Pat Quinn, and Republican Bruce Rauner is odd, though, in that there&rsquo;s a phantom player in the mix, too: Mitch Daniels, Indiana&rsquo;s former governor of Indiana.</p><p>Rightly or wrongly, Daniels is credited with cutting Indiana&rsquo;s budget and making the state&rsquo;s finances the envy of Illinois as well as the rest of the nation. Quinn pushes back on some of Daniels&rsquo; key tenets, while Rauner says he wants to emulate what Daniels did.</p><p>Regardless of where you fall on whether any state at all should follow &ldquo;the Daniels playbook,&rdquo; it is worth looking at what happened during his watch.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Daniels&rsquo; account of how the Hoosier State did it</span></p><p>After an eight-year term, Daniels left the governor&rsquo;s office in 2013. He&rsquo;s now president of Purdue University in West Lafayette. He rarely talks politics now, but after hearing George&rsquo;s question, he was happy to revisit his tenure as governor, especially as it relates to Illinois&rsquo; financial mess.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s hard not to notice, I mean it&rsquo;s national news the trouble you folks have had,&rdquo; Daniels said. &ldquo;They asked me what it was like and I said it&rsquo;s sort of like living right next door to&nbsp;<em>The Simpsons</em>, you know. Dysfunctional family on the block and we&rsquo;re looking in the window.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Daniels purdue shot..jpg" title="Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels delivers the State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature at the Statehouse Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)" /></div><p>As Daniels tells it, things were bad for Indiana as he entered office nearly a decade ago.</p><p>&ldquo;The state was absolutely, by a literal definition, bankrupt,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So, it had bills much bigger than whatever cash it had on hand. We said this has to end and I want to do it as fast as possible.&rdquo;</p><p>On his first day as governor in 2005, Daniels did something that is unimaginable in Illinois: He stripped bargaining rights for all state union employees.</p><p>&ldquo;These union agreements wouldn&rsquo;t let you change anything,&rdquo; Daniels said. &ldquo;You couldn&rsquo;t consolidate departments; you couldn&rsquo;t divide departments or reorganize them. You certainly couldn&rsquo;t outsource anything if you thought you could get it better and cheaper by hiring Hoosiers in the private sector. So, I finally decided that we simply had to cut clean.&rdquo;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/indiana icon.png" style="float: right;" title="Indiana." /></p><p>But Andrew Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics in Fort Wayne, says it&rsquo;s uncertain how effective Daniel&rsquo;s move was in shoring up the state&rsquo;s bottom line.</p><p>&ldquo;Some would argue that when the unions had less ability to bargain, it made it easier for the governor to get some things done,&rdquo; Downs said. &ldquo;But given (Daniels&rsquo;) personality, I don&rsquo;t know if that would have been the sort of thing that held him back a whole lot. I think it had more to do with his approach to economics: The freer the trade, the better.&rdquo;</p><p>Daniels didn&rsquo;t stop with state union employees.</p><p>A few years later, he signed a bill to make Indiana the Midwest&rsquo;s first right-to-work state. The policy changed workers&rsquo; relationship to private employers; new employees were no longer required to pay union dues at workplaces governed by union contracts. It effectively weakened unions&rsquo; standing in the state. Indiana&rsquo;s GOP argues the move attracted business to the state and that, in turn, boosted state revenue.</p><p>Daniels also pushed through a cap on local property taxes across the state. The cap limits the amount of taxes local communities can collect from a homeowner at one percent of a home&rsquo;s assessed value. Proponents say that&rsquo;s lead to robust home sales and &mdash; again, the argument goes &mdash; puts money back into the state&rsquo;s coffers.</p><p>If you hear Daniels and other supporters tell it, these policies created enough fiscal momentum that a few years ago the state sent $100 checks to each Indiana taxpayer. The state currently has a $2 billion stockpile, which it&rsquo;s likely to hold onto this time around.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/stillinoyed billboard image2.jpg" title="An example of a Stillinoyed campaign billboard designed to highlight Indiana's business opportunities. (Source: Economic Development Corporation, Indiana)" /></div></div><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The fallout</span></p><p>If you&rsquo;ve driven through the Chicago area, perhaps you&rsquo;ve seen billboards along expressways that read <a href="http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?fromdate=3/1/2014&amp;todate=3/31/2014&amp;display=Month&amp;type=public&amp;eventidn=165015&amp;view=EventDetails&amp;information_id=198305&amp;print=print" target="_blank">&ldquo;Illinnoyed by high taxes?&rdquo;</a> That advertising campaign (<a href="http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?fromdate=3/1/2014&amp;todate=3/31/2014&amp;display=Month&amp;type=public&amp;eventidn=165015&amp;view=EventDetails&amp;information_id=198305&amp;print=print" target="_blank">conducted by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation</a>) lures city residents and businesses to cross from Illinois to Indiana.</p><p>Michael Lucci says those ads &mdash; or at least the argument driving them &mdash; works on plenty of Illinois residents. Lucci is the Director of Jobs and Growth at the conservative Illinois Policy Institute. He estimates that Illinois has lost more than 100,000 residents to Indiana over the last decade.</p><p>&ldquo;It does hurt Illinois that we have such a business-friendly neighbor right next door because the people in Chicago can look east 30 miles and say &lsquo;Look, there are jobs there, there are opportunities there and I can move there and still be close to my family,&rsquo;&rdquo; Lucci said.</p><p>But not everyone sees Daniels&rsquo; bumper crop budget as an achievement. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn isn&rsquo;t willing to stomach Daniels&rsquo; sacrifice of collective bargaining rights.</p><p>Earlier this year, the incumbent governor told a union-heavy crowd that he believes in collective bargaining.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that&rsquo;s the best way to go and I look forward to working with you on it,&rdquo; Quinn said during an April debate in Chicago. The governor has argued that strong unions improve state residents&rsquo; income and quality of life.</p><p>Some in Indiana see a darker side to the budget surplus too. Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. is among them.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/illinois icon.png" style="float: right;" title="Illinois." /></p><p>&ldquo;We do have $2 billion in the bank and we are in a much better position in Indiana than they are fiscally in Illinois, but at the same time, I think Illinois streets might be in better shape than our streets right now,&rdquo; McDermott said. &ldquo;I think Illinois is providing better services during crisis than we are because they have more tools available. It cuts both ways.&rdquo;</p><p>McDermott, a Democrat, said that last winter the state did a poor job dealing with the snow and ice that shut down several Indiana highways. (Notably, according to the most recent report by the American Society of Civil Engineers, both Indiana and Illinois received a &ldquo;D+&rdquo; in infrastructure spending.)</p><p>McDermott&rsquo;s point is this: What&rsquo;s the use of a surplus if some basic services aren&rsquo;t being met?</p><p>&ldquo;We could expand the affordable healthcare act [ACA] in Indiana right now and insure hundreds of thousands of additional Hoosiers but they just refuse to do so even though there is 2 billion dollars in the bank, those hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers don&rsquo;t deserve health care like people in Illinois do,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Does Illinois have a chance of turning things around?</span></p><p>Of all people, Daniels is among those who say &ldquo;yes.&rdquo; Of course, it&rsquo;s no surprise that he recommends Illinois gubernatorial candidates Quinn or Rauner wrangle with public sector unions, pay more bills on time and slash spending. But the architect of Indiana&rsquo;s brand of fiscal conservatism also says Illinois can draw from its own good ideas. And he ought to know: He stole a few of them.</p><p>After <a href="http://tollroadsnews.com/news/chicago-skyway-handed-over-to-cintra-macquarie-after-wiring-1830m" target="_blank">Chicago leased its public Skyway to a private operation</a>, Daniels did the same thing for the Indiana Toll Road.</p><p>And then there was the program to let delinquent taxpayers pay with no penalty.</p><p>&ldquo;I got the legislature to conduct a tax amnesty,&rdquo; Daniels said. &ldquo;Indiana never had one. Many other states have, including Illinois. I can remember citing Illinois. It&rsquo;s kind of ironic now thinking back. I was saying then, &lsquo;Hey look, they had a successful program.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p><em>Michael Puente is WBEZ&#39;s Northwest Indiana Bureau Reporter. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews" target="_blank">@MikePuenteNews</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 22:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/two-neighboring-states-one-big-financial-gap-110718 Why does South Shore still not have a grocery store? http://www.wbez.org/news/why-does-south-shore-still-not-have-grocery-store-110699 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/South Shore grocery thumb.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The hallmarks of urban retail saturate East 71st Street: beauty supply, dollar, cell phone and gym shoe stores.</p><p>But most noticeable is the 65,000 sq. ft. vacant space in a strip mall at 71st and Jeffrey Boulevard. On the outside, it looks like someone rubbed the beige building with an eraser &ndash; the faded Dominick&rsquo;s lettering the only hint this used to be a bustling grocery store.</p><p>Last December, the grocery chain Dominick&rsquo;s closed all of its doors, including 13 in Chicago. All of the vacant stores found a new grocer to fill the space &ndash; except the one at 71st and Jeffrey Boulevard in the predominantly black South Shore neighborhood. Now residents there wonder why they&rsquo;re being left out.</p><p>More than eight months after it closed, South Shore residents say all they want is a proper supermarket to take its place. Not another discount or liquor store that sells food on the side.</p><p>&ldquo;Food is the common denominator. How we break bread, how we sustain ourselves so it&rsquo;s a great metaphor. Everyone has to eat,&rdquo; said resident Anton Seals.</p><p>Seals said residents should be able to do that in their own neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;Part of the angst that people feel is that we are tired of leaving our community; thus leaking the dollars, not helping where we are.&rdquo;</p><p>Val Free, president of The Planning Coalition, a local community group, agrees.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Dominick&rsquo;s closing brought the community together. And that&rsquo;s a win-win. And we&rsquo;re going to get the grocery we want. The kind of grocery store we want,&rdquo; Free said.</p><p>South Shore organizers are taking steps to make sure that happens. They&rsquo;ve hosted several community meetings, circulated a survey and met with city officials.&nbsp; In some ways their fight for a grocery store is part of a larger struggle playing out across the city. The intersection of race and retail often leaves African-American consumers short on access to goods and services. Even basic ones like where to shop for dinner.</p><p>This is especially true on the South Side where many neighborhoods, regardless of income, are food deserts. Juxtapose this with some areas on the North Side awash in grocery stores. Recently, residents of Wicker Park <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20140710/wicker-park/wicker-park-trader-joes-plan-dead-after-grocer-pulls-out" target="_blank">rejected a new Trader Joe&rsquo;s due to traffic concerns</a>.</p><p>Over the past decade, more grocery stores have opened in Chicago overall. But many on the South and West Sides feel left out when their only nearby food options are discount chains.</p><p>&ldquo;On the South Side of Chicago in general, we experience retail redlining. There&rsquo;s a certain kind of marketing. When we talk about institutional racism, it&rsquo;s the dismissal of communities that have income and that expendable income,&rdquo; Seals said.</p><p>South Shore is a dense, truly mixed-income neighborhood. Mansions and multi-unit apartment complexes share alleys. The community has a median income of $28,000 but there are thousands of households earning more than $75,000.</p><p>Seals said the kind of grocery store matters too.</p><p>&ldquo;We definitely didn&rsquo;t want what&rsquo;s considered low-end grocer like a Save A Lot or Food for Less in South Shore because we also wanted the new store to be a kind of catalyst for the economic resurgence we need.&rdquo;</p><p>Mari Gallagher is a researcher and expert on food access issues and said South Shore has really been a misunderstood market for a long time.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a lot of buying power in South Shore. And I know from the research and I know&nbsp; anecdotally people who live in South Shore who go all the way down to Roosevelt Road or Hyde Park to do their shopping. There&rsquo;s a lot of leakage, money leaving these neighborhoods,&rdquo; Gallagher said.</p><p>She said black Chicago has long struggled to nab quality retail. Billions of dollars leave the community each year and are spent in other neighborhoods.</p><p>&ldquo;And it&rsquo;s not necessarily because they can&rsquo;t support it as a consumer base and certainly people do eat as part of the human condition,&rdquo; Gallagher said.</p><p><a href="http://www.targetmarketnews.com/" target="_blank">Target Market News</a> is a consumer research group that tracks black spending and found that black households traditionally outspend whites and Latinos on fruits and vegetables and items that have to be cooked to be eaten. In the Chicago area they spend approximately $240 million on fresh produce annually.</p><p>&ldquo;So why do certain neighborhoods have quality grocery stores and other neighborhoods have none or just very very few, perhaps one?&rdquo; Gallagher said, adding that changes in the grocery industry perpetuate this gap.</p><p>&ldquo;That was the case when Jewel and Save A Lot were corporate siblings and the parent company decided well, we really can&rsquo;t have a Jewel in every neighborhood. So instead we&rsquo;ve put Save A Lots in those neighborhoods. There were those kind of changes and people misunderstand the African-American market.&rdquo;</p><p>Some retailers are beginning to get the message.</p><p>Mariano&rsquo;s is set to open in Bronzeville, a neighborhood long starved for better grocery options. The fast-growing chain also announced plans to open at 87th and South Shore Drive. The site is across from a lucrative development in the works on the former steel mills site. Meanwhile, Whole Foods is experimenting nationally by building in low-income areas. This summer they broke ground for a store in Englewood.</p><p>Meanwhile, back in South Shore they&rsquo;re still waiting.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think you can take race out of the equation. Not just for the grocery business but just for commercial real estate in general,&rdquo; said Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th.)</p><p>Hairston said she&rsquo;s in conversation with other stores and is open to a grocer bypassing 71st Street for another South Shore location.</p><p>But she&rsquo;s also not giving up on the former Dominick&rsquo;s space. Although it&rsquo;s empty, the lease runs until 2015. The owner of the property is Shirven Mateen. He lives in Los Angeles and declined to be interviewed.</p><p>Hairston is in communication with him. She said she even flew to L.A. to meet with him &ndash; but it didn&rsquo;t happen.</p><p>&ldquo;From what I&rsquo;m understanding what they are looking for in the price per square foot exceeds, is about 40 percent higher than what the market will bear so that in fact is an impediment,&rdquo; Hairston.</p><p>So the alderman is trying to reach the absentee landlord through moral appeals.</p><p>&ldquo;We can&rsquo;t control the economy. What has happened has happened, but you are located in a community that needs to have a grocery store. You&rsquo;re the vessel for that and we basically need you to do the right thing. We understand the business component of it but I need you to understand the human component of it,&rdquo; Hairston said.</p><p>Just last week, Hairston finally got what she&rsquo;d been asking for. She gave Bob Mariano, CEO of the grocery chain, a tour of her ward to view potential sites. No word yet if anything will be built, but one thing&rsquo;s for sure, the CEO didn&rsquo;t like the 71st Street location.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a> Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em>.</p><iframe width="100%" height="450" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/48706770&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true"></iframe></p> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/why-does-south-shore-still-not-have-grocery-store-110699 Hey Gov: An Illinois politics road trip http://www.wbez.org/news/hey-gov-illinois-politics-road-trip-110657 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Bu1yd1ZCcAEYqlk.jpg" alt="" /><p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/hey-gov-an-illinois-politics-road-trip/embed?header=none&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/hey-gov-an-illinois-politics-road-trip.js?header=none&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/hey-gov-an-illinois-politics-road-trip" target="_blank">View the story "Hey Gov: An Illinois politics road trip " on Storify</a>]<h1>Hey Gov: An Illinois politics road trip </h1><h2>WBEZ political reporters Alex Keefe and Tony Arnold took off from Chicago and drove along the Illinois River until the hit the State Fair. All along the way, they stopped to ask people what they want from the next governor. </h2><p>Storified by <a href="https://storify.com/WBEZ">WBEZ</a>&middot; Thu, Aug 14 2014 16:56:40 </p><div>WBEZ&apos;s @akeefe &amp; @tonyjarnold are following the Illinois River to the State Fair, asking citizens what they want from a governor. #HeyGovWBEZ</div><div>Best Game in Town: Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair by WBEZ's Afternoon ShiftThe Illinois State Fair hosts &quot;Governor's Day&quot; today at the fairgrounds in Springfield, Illinois. Governor's Day is the traditional rally and picnic for the Illinois democratic party. Tomorrow is Republican Day. The big story is how Governor Quinn has changed the format of today's festivities.</div><div>Gov. Quinn heads to Illinois State Fair to rally his base by WBEZ's Morning ShiftThe Illinois State Fair brings out politicians, special interest groups and voters looking to get some answers from candidates. Incumbent Governor Quinn is following the same pattern as last year and making Wednesday's Governor's Day at the Fair a family event rather than an opportunity to hash out political agendas.</div><div>What Walt Willey, Ottawa #il native and longtime &quot;All My Children&quot; soap star, wants from the next gov http://t.co/IFmdwcg9u9 #heygov @WBEZAlex Keefe</div><div>A brief history of Ottawa, #IL, in mural form. #heygov @ Illinois River, Ottawa IL http://t.co/LpoCI5xsA8Alex Keefe</div><div>.@akeefe is driving me to Springfield. At least if we take a wrong turn I know we have a map. http://t.co/0ZBKrpc8E7Tony Arnold</div></noscript></div></p> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 11:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/hey-gov-illinois-politics-road-trip-110657 Refugee youth services threatened http://www.wbez.org/news/refugee-youth-services-threatened-110656 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Refugee kids (1).JPG" alt="" /><p><p>As families prepare for a new school year, some of the most vulnerable kids and parents may have to go it alone. Refugee assistance programs in Illinois are set to lose a federal grant that helps K-12 students transition to life in the U.S., and that supports critical resources for teachers and refugee parents.</p><p>&ldquo;This program will pretty much shut down as of August 14 of 2014,&rdquo; said Melineh Kano, Executive Director of RefugeeONE, a refugee resettlement agency in Chicago. The organizations youth program provides after-school tutoring and social gatherings for roughly 250 refugee children every weekday during the school year, as well as weekend, in-home tutoring for refugee children who often come to the U.S. with little to no English skill, and often below grade level.</p><p>Additionally, the program&rsquo;s case workers are critical to enrolling children in schools when families first arrive, as many refugee parents are unable to fill out the paperwork themselves, and rarely understand what type of documentation they are required to bring to register their children.</p><p>&ldquo;Many of the parents that we are serving haven&rsquo;t really had the opportunity to deal with any formal school systems,&rdquo; explained Kano. &ldquo;So they depend on us to help them and orient them.&rdquo;</p><p>But this year, Kano and those who work with other refugee assistance programs in Illinois, are fretting over whether they&rsquo;ll have money to continue supporting kids and their families through the school year. The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement largely funds refugee services, and has recently warned assistance organizations that money is getting tight &mdash; because it also is responsible for the care and shelter of unaccompanied children who are caught illegally migrating to the U.S. The number of children detained since June of 2013 has surged, prompting the ORR to divert money that was earmarked for refugees to deal with the situation.</p><p>Since <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/feds-set-divert-refugee-funds-deal-unaccompanied-minors-110594">WBEZ last reported on this</a>, ORR has announced that it will restore funding to some core services. However, discretionary grants that pay for K-12 support, senior services and preventative health programs remain in jeopardy. In Illinois, youth services received $711,729 last fiscal year.</p><p>Kano said ORR money makes up about 80 percent of the budget for RefugeeONE&rsquo;s youth program. If that money is not renewed, she said she&rsquo;ll be left with less than one full-time employee to handle K-12 services. She said that means newly-arrived refugee families wouldn&rsquo;t receive the basic education that her organization promotes.</p><p>&ldquo;Something as simple as you have to dress your kids properly for school and you have to feed them breakfast before they go to school,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;because otherwise the teacher is going to notice that your child is not well taken care of, and they might call the Department of Child and Family Services for neglect.&rdquo;</p><p>Kano said extreme examples like that are rare, but they could happen more often without the support and intervention of RefugeeONE&rsquo;s case workers. More common are everyday household issues that refugee parents run into, often because they don&rsquo;t know how to support their kids in a new environment.<br /><br />&ldquo;I had a problem with my son,&rdquo; said Amal Khalid, a refugee who arrived from Sudan with her three children last year. &ldquo;My son (didn&rsquo;t) listen to me, and he (didn&rsquo;t) do his homework, and everything. Just he want to sit and watch TV and playing.&rdquo;</p><p>Khalid said a staff member at RefugeeONE helped by making a schedule for her 8-year old son.</p><p>&ldquo;She said you give him this routine for everything,&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;When he (wakes) up, (goes) to school and he (comes) back, eat, and like one hour for writing, reading. I can&rsquo;t do that by myself.&rdquo;</p><p>Khalid said her son&rsquo;s back on track now.</p><p>RefugeeONE&rsquo;s youth program also provides a critical, one-stop shop for many teachers who need help reaching students&rsquo; families.</p><p>&ldquo;If something arises throughout the year, that&rsquo;s my first contact, again mostly because of the language barrier,&rdquo; said Benjamin Meier, a math teacher at Roosevelt High school. The school has kids from more than 40 language backgrounds, including Arabic, Nepali, Amharic, Tigrinya, Karen, Zomi, Swahili, Dzongkha, and more.</p><p>Meier said RefugeeONE not only helps him communicate with parents, but also teaches parents how to get involved in their children&rsquo;s education.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of the parents traditionally just defer to whatever the school says,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;We prefer more of a give-and-take.&rdquo;</p><p>Meier said RefugeeONE&rsquo;s youth program has been effective because it brings in families&rsquo; case workers to craft holistic approaches to children&rsquo;s success.</p><p>Kano said RefugeeONE will dip into its general funds to keep services going through September. But if federal funds aren&rsquo;t released by then, the organization is planning to discontinue its youth support in October.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 11:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/refugee-youth-services-threatened-110656 Cabbage War: West Ridge vs. Rogers Park http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/cabbage-war-west-ridge-vs-rogers-park-110648 <p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/nsU07hchILU?rel=0" width="640"></iframe></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/163030116&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>We receive a good number of questions about Chicago neighborhoods: Among other things, we&rsquo;ve learned <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-how-are-chicago-neighborhoods-formed-103831" target="_blank">how their boundaries are formed</a>, how the city&rsquo;s roster of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583" target="_blank">neighborhoods grew through annexation</a>, and how the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538" target="_blank">ethnic composition of neighborhoods can sometimes change </a>surprisingly quickly.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/cabbage-war-west-ridge-vs-rogers-park-110648#laura" target="_blank">Laura Jones Macknin</a> of the Ravenswood neighborhood sent along one of the more puzzling queries along these lines. Laura had been working on a health-related survey project in several Chicago neighborhoods. For reporting purposes, her team needed to distinguish between West Ridge and Rogers Park, which are tucked into the northeast corner of the city.</p><p>As Laura researched the neighborhoods&rsquo; dividing line, she bumped into historical references to an altercation between the two areas &ndash; one with a vegetative flair. The issue took hold of her enough that she sent us this question:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What was behind the so-called Cabbage War in West Ridge and Rogers Park? I would like to know more because, you know ... Cabbage War.</em></p><p>Well, the Cabbage War had very little to do with cabbages per se. And though it&rsquo;s easy to dismiss such an oddly named conflict, this 19th century showdown involved something that neighborhoods and even entire cities continue to fight over today: parks and the taxes to create and maintain them.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Unfriendly neighbors</span></p><p>As West Ridge and Rogers Park evolved from being independent villages to neighborhoods of Chicago in the late 19th century, residents carried animosity towards one another. Rogers Park was urbane compared to the decidedly rural West Ridge, which grew a considerable amount of &ndash; you guessed it &ndash; cabbage. Rogers Parkers would hurl the &ldquo;Cabbage Heads&rdquo; epithet toward West Ridgers, and they prided themselves on the fact that they lived in a &ldquo;dry&rdquo; part of town where booze was outlawed. West Ridge, on the other hand, was home to several drinking establishments. The West Ridgers considered Rogers Parkers to be effete snobs, or &ldquo;silk stockings&rdquo; in the 19th century parlance.</p><p>This cultural divide persisted as things came to a head on the political front in 1896. The two areas (now Chicago neighborhoods) had proposed competing plans to create and fund parks. Notably, at this time, there was no unified Chicago Park District, and it was common for local communities to create separate parks authorities, which would sometimes compete for tax dollars. During the campaign to decide which parks plans would prevail, West Ridgers and Rogers Parkers exchanged harsh words and &mdash; in at least one case &mdash; deployed brutal tactics.</p><p>But let&rsquo;s stop the tale here. This is no <em>Game of Thrones</em> epic. Unlike that unfinished opus, the chronicle of Chicago&rsquo;s Cabbage War doesn&rsquo;t need umpteen books: You can get the gist (and all the drama) in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsU07hchILU&amp;list=UUkpMCLrDFxb1n74GOOw81-w" target="_blank">our short animated story</a>!</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><a name="laura"></a>Now we have an answer. Who asked the question?</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/question asker FOR WEB.png" style="height: 245px; width: 250px; float: left;" title="" /></p><p>Did you hear Laura Jones Macknin&rsquo;s voice at the top of our animated story? There&rsquo;s a chance you&rsquo;re actually familiar with it. Laura sent her question to us while working in a healthcare outreach program, <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2669689/">but she&rsquo;s also an actor</a>.</p><p>She&rsquo;s also performed voice work in local advertisements, including some for Central DuPage and Swedish Hospitals.</p><p>Laura wrote us early about her interest in the Cabbage War story. &ldquo;It&#39;s so odd and whimsical (Cabbages on poles! Cabbagehead slurs! Farmers vs. Northwestern!) that I wanted to know more about it,&rdquo; she wrote.</p><p>She also pressed us for a little <em>Game of Thrones</em> reenactment but, alas, the historical record might be a bit too scant to sustain a book or TV series.</p><p><em>Illustrator and reporter Simran Khosla can be followed&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/simkhosla" target="_blank">@simkhosla</a>. Sincere thanks to the <a href="http://rpwrhs.org/" target="_blank">Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society</a> for expertise, materials and interviews.</em></p></p> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 17:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/cabbage-war-west-ridge-vs-rogers-park-110648 Congressman calls for removal of police commander accused of assault http://www.wbez.org/news/congressman-calls-removal-police-commander-accused-assault-110642 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Danny Davis AP.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>U.S. Rep. Danny Davis says Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s administration should remove a West Side police commander to help avert the sort of violence that has roiled a St. Louis suburb this week.</p><p>Davis (D-Chicago) said Harrison District Cmdr. Glenn Evans, who is under criminal investigation for allegedly assaulting an arrested man, should be reassigned until the case is over.</p><p>&ldquo;Let&rsquo;s just find some other work right now for the commander to do,&rdquo; Davis said late Tuesday in his East Garfield Park office. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s what I think would be in the best interests of promoting the kind of relationships between law enforcement and community&rdquo; that prevents rioting like what hit Ferguson, Missouri, after one of that suburb&rsquo;s police officers fatally shot an unarmed black teenager.</p><p>&ldquo;It has happened many, many times in Chicago,&rdquo; Davis said. &ldquo;So I think an ounce of prevention is worth much more than a pound of cure.&rdquo;</p><p>Evans last year allegedly&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cpd-leaves-commander-post-despite-assault-allegation-dna-match-110581">jammed his pistol into an arrested man&rsquo;s mouth and threatened his life</a>. After a lab test found the arrestee&rsquo;s DNA on that gun, the Independent Police Review Authority recommended in April that police Supt. Garry McCarthy relieve Evans of his police powers and &ldquo;evaluate&rdquo; the commander&rsquo;s assignment.</p><p>The agency also referred the case to State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez&rsquo;s office.</p><p>The investigation follows at least 45 excessive-force complaints against Evans between 1988 and 2008, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/report-embattled-commander-no-1-excessive-force-complaints-110605">according to a report detailed last week by WBEZ</a>. Authorities responsible for looking into the complaints found that two warranted disciplinary action.</p><p>McCarthy has credited Evans, a 28-year department veteran, for a drop in shootings in a South Side district he commanded until March.</p><p>Davis, who has campaigned against police brutality in the past, said Evans may be a great police officer but the department should still reassign him &ldquo;until this is cleaned up, so that there are no misunderstandings of what the department believes ought to be the approach to policing.&rdquo;</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/glenn-evans">Read all our coverage about Cmdr. Glenn Evans</a></strong></p><div>&ldquo;If there is a cloud right now, relative to his use of force and how he might be training officers,&rdquo; said Davis, whose district includes nearly all of Evans&rsquo; district, &ldquo;I would think he not be in the command position.&rdquo;</div></p><p>Neither McCarthy nor Emanuel have answered questions about the decision to leave Evans in his post as the investigation continues.</p><p>Reached Tuesday evening about Davis&rsquo;s statements, Emanuel&rsquo;s office did not comment.</p><p>A McCarthy spokesman wrote that the police department takes &ldquo;any allegations seriously but, as is always the case, we cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.&rdquo;</p><p>Some rank-and-file officers and community members&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/despite-excessive-force-complaints-police-commander-maintains-support-110618">have spoken up for Evans</a>, calling him an attentive and hard-working crime fighter.</p><p>Evans has declined to comment about the investigation.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1 </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769/posts">Google+</a> and<a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1"> LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 09:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/congressman-calls-removal-police-commander-accused-assault-110642 How to botch Latino outreach http://www.wbez.org/news/how-botch-latino-outreach-110623 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ap477265004976_wide-3e67378e76f5c917f3d0daed3bb68a0e5691af79-s40-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Even as Republican leaders wrap up <a href="http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/rnc-meeting-chicago-cheney-ryan-walker-speaking/wed-08062014-948am" target="_blank">a summer meeting</a> in Chicago where they&#39;re preparing for 2016, the party&#39;s fate in that election may be getting shaped in other places.</p><p>Places like Okoboji, Iowa, where Rep. Steve King was captured on <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PI8rCleTbSo" target="_blank">video</a> getting into an extended argument with self-described &quot;DREAMers,&quot; American-raised children of undocumented immigrants. Or Alabama, where Rep. Mo Brooks has been describing immigration overhaul efforts as part of a Democratic &quot;<a href="http://www.lauraingraham.com/pg/jsp/charts/streamingAudioMaster.jsp?dispid=302&amp;headerDest=L3BnL2pzcC9tZWRpYS9mbGFzaHdlbGNvbWUuanNwP3BpZD0xOTA0Nw==" target="_blank">war on whites</a>.&quot;</p><p>Or even Washington, D.C., where a week ago, in order to win the support of immigration opponents like King and Brooks on a border crisis spending bill, leaders brought to the floor a <a href="http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d113:H.R.5272:" target="_blank">companion bill</a> ending President Obama&#39;s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program that permits children who were brought to this country as minors by undocumented immigrants to remain.</p><p>Neither bill is likely to become law, but, say political strategists in both parties, the damage is done. While there may be little effect in the coming midterm elections &mdash; when Hispanic turnout is typically depressed &mdash; anger over the legislation and the well-publicized comments could cement a perception that becomes difficult to change by 2016.</p><p>&quot;It just reinforces existing beliefs about Republican views on immigration and, more broadly, Hispanics generally,&quot; said Anna Greenberg, a Democratic pollster.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s further evidence we&#39;re departing further and further into the wilderness,&quot; said John Weaver, a former adviser to Arizona Sen. John McCain. &quot;I don&#39;t really notice the &#39;war on whites&#39; myself, but maybe it&#39;s raging in northern Alabama.&quot;</p><p>McCain is among the 13 sitting GOP senators who last year voted for an immigration overhaul that includes a path to citizenship for the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. It&#39;s that feature that angers many House Republicans, who typically represent districts with tiny Latino populations. They argue that any immigration law changes are inappropriate before the border with Mexico is fully secured.</p><p>In their opposition, they are also bucking leaders of the Republican National Committee, which last year specifically cited immigration legislation as a way to open doors among Hispanics and other minority groups.</p><p>It was this sensibility, in fact, that spurred House leaders to push for the border bill last week, even though it meant postponing the start of the August recess. Speaker John Boehner had already put out a statement suggesting that attempts to pass a $659 million funding bill were being abandoned for want of votes. Boehner and his team were quickly besieged by Republicans worried about heading home without having done anything about the tens of thousands of unaccompanied children who had crossed the border. Republicans would seem uncaring, and Obama would have a political field day.</p><p>But in their desperation to win over immigration opponents, House leaders agreed to take up the proposal to end Obama&#39;s DACA program. It passed, with 212 Republican yes votes, and 11 Republicans voting no. (All but four Democrats voted against it.)</p><p>King was among those crowing about their victory &mdash; which led to Monday&#39;s confrontation at an Iowa fundraiser. Alabama&#39;s Brooks, meanwhile, defended the anti-DACA bill and dismissed criticisms against it as part of the Democratic &quot;war on whites.&quot;</p><p>(On a Huntsville, Ala., <a href="http://www.wvnn.com/" target="_blank">radio show</a> Wednesday with <em>National Journal</em> columnist <a href="http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/it-s-not-just-obama-brooks-now-says-gop-is-waging-war-on-whites-20140806" target="_blank">Ron Fournier</a>, Brooks accused Fournier of contributing to divisiveness with his &quot;commentary&quot; &mdash; though Fournier was quoting from the Republican Party&#39;s own .)</p><p>Both incidents have gotten widespread play in the media &mdash; more play than the Republican Party&#39;s outreach to Latinos is getting nowadays. In an <a href="http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/changing_lanes/2014/08/07/reince_priebus_responds_to_war_on_whites.html" target="_blank">interview with RealClearPolitics</a> from Chicago, GOP chairman Reince Priebus called Brooks&#39; remarks &quot;idiotic.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We have to be a party that grows. That means we have to have more people in our party, not less,&quot; Priebus said.</p><p>Weaver, who in recent years has criticized the party for its failure to embrace an immigration overhaul, said the latest turn proves his point. &quot;If you&#39;re on the wrong side of history on immigration, that&#39;s not a good place to be,&quot; he said.</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2014/08/08/338631780/how-to-botch-latino-outreach" target="_blank">via NPR&#39;s It&#39;s All Politics blog</a></em></p></p> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 14:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/how-botch-latino-outreach-110623 In Chicago, neighborhoods that are too black don't gentrify http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-neighborhoods-are-too-black-dont-gentrify-110622 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/4078294934_2075aa0ed5_o-1-_vert-818749762e22fbc8b4877fdbe97cc7058dbdddf8-s51.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>So here&#39;s one way folks tend to think about gentrification in big cities: poorer (therefore: browner) neighborhood becomes more attractive to folks of more means (therefore: whiter) who are in search of lower housing costs. As more and more better-off folks move in, new amenities and fresh investment follow. And that, in turn, brings more demand for the neighborhood among potential gentrifiers, which pushes up housing costs and drives out the people of color who lived there before.</p><p>A <a href="http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2014/08/a-new-view-of-gentrification/" target="_blank">new study by Harvard researchers</a> suggests that there&#39;s also a racial ceiling to how neighborhoods gentrify, at least in Chicago, the city they examined. Robert Sampson and Jackelyn Hwang found that neighborhoods that are too black tend to stay that way.</p><p>&quot;It used to be referred to as &#39;white flight,&#39;&quot; Sampson said, referring to the postwar years in which whites left big cities as more blacks moved into them. &quot;But we refer to it in the paper as &#39;white avoidance&#39; &mdash; [gentrifiers are] not moving into neighborhoods where there are lots of black people. In Chicago, the [neighborhoods] that are gentrifying are the ones where there was a white working class, or Latinos, but not many blacks.&quot;</p><p>The researchers started with earlier data showing neighborhoods that appeared to be undergoing gentrification. But when they looked at those same areas more recently, they found that in areas where the population was 40 percent black, that gentrification seemed to grind to a halt.</p><p>Indeed, Sampson said that many of the neighborhoods that have become synonymous with gentrification &mdash; like the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn &mdash; actually underscore their study&#39;s findings. That neighborhood <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/05/02/fashion/20130502-WBURG.html" target="_blank">has a reputation of being a hive of hipsters</a> who moved in and displaced all the black people who lived there before. But before it gentrified, the neighborhood actually boasted a sizable Polish-American working class and a large Latino population, while its black population had always been very small. (It was about 7 percent in 1990.) Sampson said the <a href="http://nymag.com/nymetro/realestate/neighborhoods/features/11775/index2.html" target="_blank">Bed-Stuys</a> and <a href="http://nymag.com/realestate/features/48328/index4.html" target="_blank">Harlems</a> of the world &mdash; heavily black urban neighborhoods that have seen lots of whites move in &mdash; are outliers, not the rule.</p><p>The researchers used a novel method of qualitative research to determine how much change a neighborhood had experienced &mdash; a mix of Census data, surveys of thousands of Chicago residents, and Google Street View:</p><blockquote><div><p>The new research builds on a 1995 study that examined gentrification trends in nearly two dozen cities across the country, including nearly half of the census tracts in Chicago. The earlier study categorized census tracts according to how gentrified they were based on how much visible reinvestment they were seeing.</p><p>To examine whether those trends had continued, Hwang and Sampson targeted areas that had earlier been identified as gentrified and adjacent census tracts, and began using Google Street View to examine them in painstaking detail.</p></div></blockquote><p>From Google Street View, the researchers gathered visual evidence of hundreds of blocks around Chicago. They tagged evidence of new construction, renovations of existing homes, public improvements, and signs of &quot;disorder&quot; like graffiti or litter.</p><p>&quot;While gentrifiers prefer a certain level of diversity &mdash; there&#39;s a sense that gentrifiers are hip, urban pioneers &mdash; there&#39;s a kind of diversity threshold wherein gentrification goes up, but then you get to a certain level [and it stops],&quot; Sampson told me. &quot;Really segregated, less-diverse neighborhoods tend to have less gentrification over time.&quot;</p><p>Hwang said that they controlled for things like poverty, the amount of public housing, and availability of public transit, which showed that race was a key factor in how much change a neighborhood saw. That&#39;s pretty consistent with other research on race and housing, she said.</p><p>&quot;In a lot of the literature on segregation and residential preferences, studies have found that people have preferred neighborhoods with more whites and least preferred neighborhoods with all blacks &mdash; and Asians and Latinos in the middle,&quot; Hwang said.</p><p><a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/05/the-case-for-reparations/361631/" target="_blank">As Ta-Nehisi Coates&#39; blockbuster story on reparations exhaustively outlined</a>, Chicago has a particularly sordid history when it comes to race and housing. The city&#39;s policies and their consequences have contributed to deep levels of residential segregation there, and Sampson said that history continues to shape the way Chicagoans think of different neighborhoods.</p><p>&quot;[There&#39;s a] perception that predominantly black neighborhoods are higher-crime, more disorderly,&quot; he said. &quot;And that&#39;s feeding into which neighborhoods &mdash; among poor neighborhoods &mdash; are being gentrified.&quot;</p><p>Hwang said that also means that the same neighborhoods that saw massive disinvestment when they became mostly black and poor are not benefiting from the waves of new construction and new businesses that gentrification necessarily brings along with it.</p><p>&quot;What&#39;s really happening is that the neighborhoods that could use some reinvestment and renewal aren&#39;t even being touched,&quot; she said.</p><p><em>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/08/08/338831318/chicago-neighborhoods-that-are-too-black-resist-gentrification" target="_blank">via NPR&#39;s Code Switch blog</a></em></p></p> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 13:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-neighborhoods-are-too-black-dont-gentrify-110622 Report: Embattled commander No. 1 for excessive-force complaints http://www.wbez.org/news/report-embattled-commander-no-1-excessive-force-complaints-110605 <p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-93192654-a82a-222c-a2eb-64ef1c46f5be"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Evans%201tightcrop.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 215px; width: 300px;" title="Evans, a 28-year department veteran, remains in his Harrison District post despite a city agency’s recommendation that his police powers be stripped. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />An analysis of excessive-force complaints against hundreds of Chicago police officers is raising more questions about a district commander who is under investigation for allegedly assaulting an arrestee.</p><p>The 49-page report, authored by a former Chicago chief epidemiologist, found that Harrison District Cmdr. Glenn Evans had at least 45 excessive-force complaints between January 1988 and December 2008. During those decades, according to the report, Evans had the highest number of complaints among 1,541 officers for whom the city provided data.</p><p>The author, Dr. Steven Whitman, compiled and studied five city datasets listing 13,527 excessive-force complaints for the officers. Whitman, who died last month, finished the analysis in 2010 for a lawsuit against one of the cops. The report, obtained by WBEZ, has remained out of public view.</p><p><a href="http://peopleslawoffice.com/about-civil-rights-lawyers/attorney-staff-bios/flint-taylor/">G. Flint Taylor</a>, a partner at the People&rsquo;s Law Office, said the Whitman analysis showed something about Evans that he and his colleagues had long suspected. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s one of the worst [excessive-force] repeater cops in the history of the city of Chicago,&rdquo;&nbsp;Taylor said.&nbsp;&ldquo;He should be fired.&rdquo;</p><p>WBEZ last week revealed an April <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cpd-leaves-commander-post-despite-assault-allegation-dna-match-110581">recommendation by the city&rsquo;s Independent Police Review Authority</a> that Evans be stripped of police powers. In that case, Evans allegedly jammed his police pistol into an arrestee&rsquo;s mouth and threatened to kill him. A test found that DNA evidence on the gun matched the arrestee, Rickey J. Williams, 24.</p><p>IPRA also referred the case to Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez&rsquo;s office for criminal investigation.</p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel did not respond to questions about his administration&rsquo;s handling of Evans in light of the Whitman report. Last week an Emanuel spokesman said the mayor would not comment on the IPRA recommendation because that investigation was ongoing.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/glenn-evans"><strong>Read all our coverage about Cmdr. Glenn Evans</strong></a></p><p>A spokesman for police Supt. Garry McCarthy, questioned Monday about the Whitman report, wrote that the police department takes any allegations seriously but cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.</p><p>The McCarthy spokesman, Martin Maloney, also lauded Evans, a 28-year department veteran. &ldquo;Throughout his career, Cmdr. Glenn Evans has reduced crime and violence for the communities he has served,&rdquo; Maloney wrote, crediting Evans for improvements in a South Side district he commanded until March.</p><p>&ldquo;Under Cmdr. Evans&rsquo; leadership, the 3rd District had 80 fewer shootings last year than in 2012, the second largest decline in the city,&rdquo; Maloney wrote.</p><p>That praise sounds familiar to Taylor, who has filed lawsuits about Jon Burge, a former Chicago police commander imprisoned for lying about torture. &ldquo;In the police department&rsquo;s view, he was effective,&rdquo; Taylor said. &ldquo;At the same time, he was torturing over 100 African-American men.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;There are many proactive cops in high-crime areas that do not rack up a fraction of the complaints that Evans and the other bad guys have,&rdquo; Taylor said.</p><p>Authorities responsible for investigating the Evans complaints in the Whitman report found that two warranted disciplinary action. That gave Evans a 4.4 percent rate of complaints sustained, compared to a 3.0 percent average for all the officers in the report.</p><p>Evans has also been the subject of at least three lawsuits in which the city has paid plaintiffs to settle claims of excessive force or other misconduct.</p><p>In one of those settlements, finalized last December, the city agreed to pay $71,000 to Chicago resident Chas Byars Sr., who accused Evans of grabbing his infant son&rsquo;s car seat so forcefully during an arrest that the baby fell out and hit his head on a table. Neither the city nor Evans admitted wrongdoing.</p><p>Evans did not return WBEZ calls on Monday. Reached last week about the Williams case, the commander declined to comment.</p><p>Some <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/despite-excessive-force-complaints-police-commander-maintains-support-110618">rank-and-file officers and community members have praised Evans</a> as a hard-working cop and attentive commander.<br />&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">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 05 Aug 2014 16:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/report-embattled-commander-no-1-excessive-force-complaints-110605 Facing a mass-mailing deadline, lawmakers get frank fast http://www.wbez.org/news/facing-mass-mailing-deadline-lawmakers-get-frank-fast-110602 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/istock_000002181646small_wide-73c9233fae82c6c78ddd8390cfe496163e80cb93-s4-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Members of Congress face a deadline next Thursday &mdash; 90 days before the election &mdash; to put constituent newsletters in the mail. Carefully timing the mailings is just one fillip in the fine art of congressional communications, especially those that might suggest campaign messages.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s either a congressional perk that looks a lot like someone campaigning with tax dollars, or it&#39;s part of your constituent service responsibility,&quot; says Rep. Rob Woodall, a Georgia Republican, in an acknowledgement that while congressional mass mail is as old as the republic, so are voters&#39; suspicions about its real purpose.</p><p>For starters, official congressional mail travels without a stamp. Instead, there&#39;s just the lawmaker&#39;s signature &mdash; called a &quot;frank&quot; &mdash; where the stamp would be. The frank implies free postage, but that&#39;s not accurate.</p><p>&quot;Congress used to have free mail,&quot; says Woodall. &quot;Congress now has weird mail&quot; &mdash; weird because the frank hides the cost, which is buried in congressional accounting.</p><p>Woodall and Rep. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, have introduced&nbsp;<a href="https://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/4872?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22%5C%22frank%5C%22%22%5D%7D">legislation to get rid of the frank</a>. Lawmakers would pay regular postage, just like small businesses do.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;ll buy a bulk permit,&quot; says Woodall. &quot;I&#39;ll get that done.&quot;</p><p>The bill isn&#39;t likely to get a vote in the remaining weeks of this Congress. And meanwhile, he says, &quot;For us &mdash; we&#39;ll do a big mailing before the blackout period.&quot; So will many of his colleagues.</p><p><a href="https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Senate_Ends_Franked_Mail_Priviledge.htm">A Senate history</a>&nbsp;says Congress once went 18 years without the frank, from 1873 to 1891, before deciding life was better with franking. But the practice was long open to easy abuse. In the early 1800s, a senator &quot;attached his frank to his horse&#39;s bridle&quot; and mailed the animal to Pittsburgh.</p><p>Nowadays, the&nbsp;<a href="http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL34458.pdf">Congressional Research Service</a>&nbsp;says the volume of franked mass mail spikes twice every two years: in the holiday season of the first year, and leading up to the pre-election blackout.</p><p>Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., just sent off a newsletter, which he calls &quot;basically a four-page newsletter, describing all my great activities.&quot;</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s not so much that I&#39;m timing it. It&#39;s to get it done while I can get it done, that&#39;s all,&quot; he says.</p><p>Congress has rules, of course, intended to tamp down the political subtext of newsletters. But there&#39;s still a good amount of leeway.</p><p>&quot;Members of Congress can send out a newsletter that puts out exactly how they voted on key pieces of legislation and explains it in very nonpolitical terms, or they can send out a newsletter that basically says they walk on water,&quot; says Brad Fitch, president of the nonprofit<a href="http://www.congressfoundation.org/">Congressional Management Foundation</a>, which advises members on how to run their offices.</p><p>Pete Sepp, executive vice president of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ntu.org/">National Taxpayers Union</a>, points to legislation requiring that mass mailings be printed on official letterhead, &quot;so that these glossy newsletters could not be easily fabricated and sent out to constituents.&quot;</p><p>But not all members of Congress contribute to the logjam at the congressional mailrooms.</p><p>Rep. Danny Davis, another Illinois Democrat and nine-term incumbent from a working-class district in Chicago, says he used to issue newsletters. Now, he says, he can&#39;t afford to. The money saved on mail goes into constituent aid, dealing with housing, utility shutoffs and other critical problems.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re inundated with service requests, all day long, every day,&quot; he says.</p><p>Davis says he reaches constituents, using means ranging from printed posters to local radio shows. He says he believes in an enlightened citizenry, but his constituents&#39; needs are more pressing than a congressional newsletter before the election.</p><p>&mdash;&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2014/07/31/336905837/facing-a-mass-mailing-deadline-lawmakers-get-frank-fast?ft=1&amp;f=">&nbsp;originaly posted July 31 at NPR&#39;s It&#39;s All Politics</a></em></p></p> Tue, 05 Aug 2014 08:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/facing-mass-mailing-deadline-lawmakers-get-frank-fast-110602