WBEZ | Rogers Park http://www.wbez.org/tags/rogers-park Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Former aide to Ald. Joe Moore details ethics violations http://www.wbez.org/news/former-aide-ald-joe-moore-details-ethics-violations-108160 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Joe Moore.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A former aide to Chicago Ald. Joe Moore (49th) is speaking out about ethical violations that she claims she witnessed when she worked in the alderman&rsquo;s office between 2006 and 2009. The claims, first detailed in a <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/olig/Documents/LIGrpt-Jul2013.pdf">report</a> released Monday by the city&rsquo;s legislative inspector general, have put the reform-minded alderman on the defensive.</p><p dir="ltr">Anne Sullivan joined Moore&rsquo;s re-election campaign shortly after she was let go as campaign manager for his rival, Don Gordon, in a runoff election. She later became a legislative aide in Moore&rsquo;s ward office, eventually specializing in housing matters.</p><p dir="ltr">Sullivan was terminated in November of 2009, and alleges the reason was that she sounded alarms over potentially illegal ethics violations in Moore&rsquo;s ward office. &ldquo;There was a paid city intern, a student intern, that was working at the front desk, like at the front door of the office,&rdquo; Sullivan told WBEZ, &ldquo;and they had him putting mailing labels on an invitation for a fundraiser for Toni Preckwinkle that Joe Moore was hosting at his home.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">City and state laws prohibit public servants from engaging in political activities that use government resources and property, and that are done on city time.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I told the kid he shouldn&rsquo;t be doing that, and I emailed Joe Moore and told him about it,&rdquo; Sullivan continued. She claimed that Moore was away from the office that week, but that his Chief of Staff, Betsy Vandercook, initially disputed the veracity of Sullivan&rsquo;s claim. Vandercook did not respond to multiple requests for an interview.</p><p dir="ltr">Sullivan said Moore told her that when he returned to his office, the staff would have a meeting to discuss the matter. &ldquo;But then we never had a staff meeting,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">Instead, according to Sullivan, when Moore returned to his office he took her to a restaurant in Rogers Park and told her that she was terminated. He also offered Sullivan three-and-a-half months of pay, roughly $8,700. &ldquo;But for that I had to agree to walk away from the ward office, and not talk to anybody about anything that occurred in the ward office, or about anybody in the ward office, or badmouthing anybody,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">Sullivan said she had not accrued enough unused vacation time or overtime to justify the payment, but she claims she accepted it because she thought city employees were entitled to severance pay. Sullivan said she later called the city&rsquo;s human resources office and was told that the city of Chicago does not give severance pay to public employees.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I hung up the phone and had a panic attack,&rdquo; Sullivan said. &ldquo;Because I felt like I had been set up, like I was now embroiled in something illegal, and I felt like Joe (Moore) knew that, and he had me.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Sullivan said she called the City Inspector General&rsquo;s office to inquire if the payment was illegal, but dropped it because she didn&rsquo;t want to sign a formal complaint. But a year later, Sullivan said she spoke with the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois on the advice of a friend. She claimed that office helped arrange for two FBI agents to interview her.</p><p dir="ltr">The FBI declined to comment on whether it is investigating the alleged violations. Moore did acknowledge in an interview with WBEZ that he was interviewed by FBI agents about the matter.</p><p dir="ltr">But the alderman disputed much of Sullivan&rsquo;s account on Tuesday, starting with the allegation that an intern labeled political flyers in his ward office. &ldquo;I wasn&rsquo;t there and this is not something that I&rsquo;m familiar with,&rdquo; he said. Moore also said did not recall receiving any e-mail from Sullivan about the matter. Moore added that Sullivan often made allegations about staff members in his office, &ldquo;and almost all of them were unfounded,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;She was a very disruptive influence in the office,&rdquo; said Moore. Others who worked with Sullivan on Moore&rsquo;s re-election campaign and in the ward office told WBEZ that she had a tendency to &ldquo;burn bridges&rdquo; with those around her, and that her working relationship with Moore was often tense.</p><p dir="ltr">Moore denied that he terminated Sullivan because of any allegations of illegal activity, but rather claimed it was for insubordination. &rdquo;I told her that things just weren&rsquo;t going well in the office with her, that I was going to have to let her go.&rdquo; He claimed the severance pay was for overtime hours.</p><p dir="ltr">According to the report that first revealed the alleged violations, Moore also paid taxpayer-funded severance in excess of unused vacation days to a former chief of staff, Kevin Cosgrove, amounting to $13,497. Cosgrove did not respond to WBEZ&rsquo;s request for comment.</p><p dir="ltr">The accusations against Moore were publicly aired on the same day the White House announced he was to be honored as &quot;a pioneer for political reform, governmental transparency and democratic governance.&quot; The progressive alderman, in office since 1991, was the first in the city to implement a constituent-driven budgeting process in his ward. According to <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Alderman-Accused-of-Ethics-Violation-Honored-at-White-House-216592541.html">news</a> <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&amp;id=9182730">reports</a> late Tuesday, the White House was withholding the honor in light of the pending investigation.</p><p dir="ltr">On Monday, Moore emailed <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/737899-statement-of-ald-joe-moore-1-7-22-13.html">a written statement</a> to the media, denying any misconduct, and calling the office of Faisal Khan, the Legislative Inspector General &ldquo;run amok with a lack of professionalism...&rdquo; Moore also claimed Khan never interviewed him about the allegations, which Khan disputes.</p><p dir="ltr">The complaint against Moore was among 132 filed with Khan&rsquo;s office between July 2012 and July 2013, of which 25 were investigated. Khan said that&rsquo;s far more than were filed in the previous year.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There&rsquo;s more public awareness as to the existence of this office,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Now since we&rsquo;ve been out trying to raise awareness of this office, allowing the taxpayers and the citizens of Chicago to come forward and speak to us, I think that&rsquo;s a reasonable explanation as to why these numbers have increased.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The investigations now go to the city&rsquo;s Board of Ethics.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="http://www.twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 24 Jul 2013 07:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/former-aide-ald-joe-moore-details-ethics-violations-108160 The Sullivan of Sullivan High School http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-01/sullivan-sullivan-high-school-104800 <p><p>Roger Sullivan wasn&rsquo;t an educator, or a scientist, or an explorer, or a military hero, or a celebrated humanitarian. His public service consisted of a single term as a probate court clerk. So why does he have a high school named after him?</p><p>In Chicago, the reason is obvious. Roger Sullivan was the political boss who built the Democratic Machine.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1-14--Sullivan H.S..jpg" style="width: 430px; height: 286px;" title="Sullivan High School" /></div></div></div></div><p>Born in 1861, Sullivan grew up in rural poverty outside Rockford. He came to Chicago as a teenager to work in the West Side rail yards, and soon became active in the Democratic Party. His election to the Cook County Probate Court came in 1890.</p><p>Chicago had a competitive, two-party system then. The Democrats had several factions who battled among themselves. The Republicans were divided that way, too.</p><p>If either party could become united, that party would easily win elections. Different political chieftains kept trying to build a permanent coalition. Sullivan was the man who succeeded.</p><p>Over the course of twenty years, he gradually brought the local Democrats together. Often it was like herding cats. But though he suffered setbacks, he kept going. And as the Sullivan group began winning more elections, more ward leaders joined up&mdash;which in turn, made the Sullivan group even stronger.</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/1-14--Sullivan%20%28LofC%29_0.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 420px; float: right;" title="Sullivan Himself (Library of Congress)" />Sullivan also became a force in national politics. He was elected National Democratic Committeeman from Illinois in 1906. At the 1912 convention he helped secure the nomination for Woodrow Wilson. Now Sullivan was touted as a backroom boss who had the vision to work for progressive causes.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Sullivan himself became quite wealthy. His enemies made pointed hints about how he&rsquo;d obtained that wealth, but nothing illegal was ever proven. There was enough money to be made from politics in legal ways, without blatant stealing from the public treasury.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In&nbsp;1914, after decades operating behind the scenes, Sullivan became a candidate for the United States Senate. &ldquo;The chief wants to be a statesman,&rdquo; one of his associates explained. Illinois was still a Republican state and Sullivan lost, but only by 17,000 votes.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">He went back to building the local party. By 1920 he had control centralized in his hands, and newspapers were starting to write about the Democratic &ldquo;machine.&rdquo; That April 14th, Roger Sullivan died of a heart attack.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">He had played hardball politics, but had never been vindictive. &ldquo;The men who are strong enemies today may be friendly six months from now,&rdquo; he once said. In his obituary the <em>Tribune</em> called Sullivan &ldquo;the benevolent boss of Illinois Democrats.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In 1926 the Roger Sullivan Junior High School opened at 6631 North Bosworth Avenue. When the city later abolished junior highs, it became a four-year general high school, as it remains today.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 22 Jan 2013 05:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-01/sullivan-sullivan-high-school-104800 Rogers Park, past and present http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-01/rogers-park-past-and-present-104722 <p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re Number One!&nbsp; We&rsquo;re Number One!&rdquo;</p><p>Any Chicago neighborhood can shout that.&nbsp;But Chicago&rsquo;s&nbsp;official Community Area #1 is Rogers Park, in the city&rsquo;s northeast corner.&nbsp;That&rsquo;s where some anonymous U of C social scientist started the numbering system in the 1920s.</p><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/1-15--Chicago%20NE%20corner.jpg" title="Chicago's northeast corner" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">The earliest residents here were the Potawatomi.&nbsp;Sometime before 1800 they established villages along the glacial ridge that&rsquo;s now Ridge Boulevard.&nbsp;The land eastward toward the lake was too low and swampy for much of anything.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">When white Americans moved in, they stuck to the high ground.&nbsp;In 1839 Philip Rogers built a cabin near (present-day) Ridge and Lunt, and began truck farming.&nbsp;Over the next several years, other farmers settled in Mr. Rogers&rsquo; neighborhood.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1-15--map.jpg" style="width: 350px; height: 260px;" title="" /></div></div><p>Patrick Touhy, Rogers&rsquo; son-in-law, really spurred development.&nbsp;During the 1860s he organized many of the locals into a building and land association.&nbsp;The Chicago &amp; North Western Railroad arrived on the scene in 1873.&nbsp;Five years later, the Village of Rogers Park was incorporated.</p><p>Growth was slow but steady.&nbsp;Large Victorian homes were erected in the blocks between the C&amp;NW line and the ridge.&nbsp;A small commercial district sprang up just east of the train station, around Clark and Lunt.&nbsp;In 1885 a second&nbsp;commuter line was completed&nbsp;through the eastern lowlands by the Chicago, Milwaukee &amp; St. Paul Railroad.</p><p>Rogers Park was a sleepy little community of 3500 people when Chicago annexed it in 1893. But as the century turned, &lsquo;L&rsquo; service came to Rogers Park over the CM&amp;SP right-of-way. And then Rogers Park really took off.</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/1-15----Jackson-Thomas%20House-7053%20N%20Ridge%20Blvd.jpg" title="Early Rogers Park: The 1873 Jackson-Thomas House" /></div><p>Loyola University relocated from the West Side. Two-flats and large apartment blocks went up near the &lsquo;L&rsquo;, and the Howard line became the city&rsquo;s busiest.&nbsp;The population jumped from 6,700 in 1910 to over 57,000 twenty&nbsp;years later.&nbsp;</p><p>Rogers&nbsp;Park didn&rsquo;t have a single dominant shopping district.&nbsp;Most stores were small and locally-owned, and could be found in clusters near the &lsquo;L&rsquo; stations.&nbsp;Clark Street, the main streetcar line, developed its own commercial ribbon.&nbsp;</p><p>Howard Street was a special case.&nbsp;The street bordered Evanston&ndash;which was dry&ndash;so a whole range of bars and liquor stores set up on the Chicago-side of Howard.&nbsp;&rdquo;Going to Howard&rdquo; was a favorite field-trip for generations of Northwestern students.</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/1-15--The%20Jungle.jpg" title="Juneway Terrace in The Jungle" /></div><p>East of the &lsquo;L&rsquo; the border jumped north of Howard to include&nbsp;the few blocks up to Calvary Cemetery.&nbsp;Here the narrow streets were crammed with&nbsp;three-story apartments that&nbsp;shaded the sidewalks the whole day.&nbsp;Someone called the area The Jungle, and the name stuck.&nbsp;</p><p>In&nbsp;Patrick Touhy&rsquo;s day, most people in Rogers Park were English in ancestry.&nbsp;They were later joined by Germans and some Irish.&nbsp;Beginning about 1910, a significant number of Russian Jews began moving into the community.&nbsp;By 1950, when the population reached 63,000, they were the largest identifiable ethnic/religious group.</p><p>Rogers Park was a good place to live.&nbsp;Public transit was fast, stores were plentiful, crime was low, rents were affordable, and Lake Michigan was at your doorstep.&nbsp;That last one was important in the era before air conditioning.</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/1-15--Morse%201978.jpg" title="Morse Avenue at the 'L', 1978" /></div><p>My wife and I lived in Rogers Park during the 1970s.&nbsp;Our apartment was across from Loyola Beach, and if you sat in the right chair, you could actually see the lake from our living room.&nbsp;Nearly every summer weekend, relatives and long-lost friends descended on us.&nbsp;Could the reason have been that it was often 20 degrees cooler at our place than a few miles inland?&nbsp;</p><p>In the years since, like many Chicago communities, Rogers Park has had problems.&nbsp;Some of the older housing deteriorated.&nbsp;Businesses left.&nbsp;Crime increased.&nbsp;Parts of The Jungle became blighted.&nbsp;</p><p>Yet&nbsp;the positive factors remain.&nbsp;Meanwhile, new construction has replaced many run-down buildings.&nbsp;The Gateway Centre Plaza has helped stabilize the area around the &lsquo;L&rsquo; terminal.&nbsp;</p><p>The 2010 Census counted 55,000 people in Rogers Park. The community&nbsp;has a diverse population&ndash;39% White, 26% African-American, 24% Hispanic, 7% Asian.&nbsp;Rogers Park&nbsp;also boasts an active historical society and numerous other community organizations.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re Number&nbsp;One!&rdquo; In many ways, it&rsquo;s true.</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/1-15--Rogers%20Park%20Lakefront.JPG" title="Rogers Park lakefront" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 15 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-01/rogers-park-past-and-present-104722 There in Chicago (#10) http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-07/there-chicago-10-100704 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/03--2011.jpg" title="Howard Street at Paulina Street--view east" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/03--1961_0.jpg" title="1961--the same view" /></div></div><p>How well did you find your way around 1961 Chicago?</p><p>Both pictures were shot from the platform at the Howard Street &quot;L&quot; station. Though there has been a great deal of land clearance and rebuilding in the surrounding area, this particular block looks much the same after a half-century. Thankfully, a few trees have been added.</p><p>The Howard Theatre &mdash; identifiable by the vertical &quot;. . . WARD&quot; in the 1961 photo &mdash; closed many years ago. The auditorium itself was gutted, but the 1917 building facade has been preserved. &nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 20 Jul 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-07/there-chicago-10-100704 Orthodox Jews launch emergency service http://www.wbez.org/story/orthodox-jews-launch-emergency-service-93709 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-03/ambulance_Flickr_Alex C. Balla.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><p>Starting later this month, residents of Chicago’s far North Side, Skokie, and Lincolnwood will be able to get help in addition to 911 for medical emergencies. A team of local Orthodox Jews is launching a new emergency response service called Hatzalah Chicago to augment services in the areas where high concentrations Orthodox Jews live. Members hope the service will help resolve some unique religious tensions that can come up in emergency situations.</p><p>Imagine, say, that it’s Friday night and you start feeling chest pain. Most non-Jews wouldn’t think twice about it; they’d just pick up the phone and dial 911. But the calculation’s not so simple for Orthodox Jews because Friday night is the Sabbath, and they’re not supposed to use electricity.</p><p>“We have obviously a lot of doctors in the community, and I remember one of the doctors told me a story where somebody literally walked over to his house, I don’t remember, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, literally in pain, cardiac pain,” recounted Rivka Kompel, one of Hatzalah Chicago’s board members. “[He] thought he was possibly having a heart attack, and he still walked to the person’s house 20 or 30 minutes because it was the Sabbath."</p><p>In Hebrew, Hatzalah means “rescue.” Hatzalah Chicago is a non-profit organization funded through private donations and staffed by unpaid volunteers. Kompel says the mission is to prevent more stories like the example she gave. Kompel says Jewish law allows people to break the Sabbath in life-or-death situations, but problems arise because, sometimes, people can’t tell the difference between what’s serious and what’s not.</p><p>Hatzalah’s emergency medical technicians are trained in both medicine and religious law. Kompel hopes they’ll help people make smarter decisions when it comes to the intersection of religious law and medical urgency.</p><p>Simcha Frank has been doing a lot of the heavy lifting to get Hatzalah off the ground. The team’s dispatch center is just a small, windowless room in a Skokie office park. But while the group has been setting up, they’ve used the room for equipment storage. The day he showed the facillty to me, the phone rang.</p><p>“That’s weird,” Frank said, after hanging up. “So there’s this organization nationwide that keeps track of all the Hatzalahs. They wanted to see if we’re operational.”</p><p>Lots of other cities have Hatzalahs. Frank, a Jewish funeral home director, says his baby nephew was saved by Hatzalah Brooklyn. He got advice from Hatzalah Baltimore.</p><p>Here’s how the service will work: If someone in the service area experiences a medical emergency, they still need to call 911. But Frank hopes they’ll also call another number for Hatzalah. Hatzalah’s dispatch center will radio its 40-or-so EMTs.</p><p>Each EMT has gone through standard training at Malcolm X College or Vista Health Systems, a hospital in Waukegan, Ill. They carry emergency medical equipment in their cars at all times — things like oxygen tanks, defibrillators, and first aid supplies. That helps them stabilize a patient in the first minutes after a call’s put out.</p><p>But once the fire department or an ambulance comes on scene, Hatzalah backs off. That’s part of Frank’s agreements with Chicago, Skokie and Lincolnwood.</p><p>But there are other things that Hatzalah can do that are unique to this religious community, things that other emergency response services may not consider — particularly on the Sabbath.</p><p>“So let’s say now Chicago Fire Department comes to the house on a Friday night, (and) they say we’re going to call your mother so they could come watch your kids,” said Frank. “You could call your mother from today ‘til tomorrow, they won’t answer the phone. So you actually have to physically go to the house, knock on the door, because they won’t answer the phone.”</p><p>Hatzalah responders can also make sure that if someone goes to the hospital on the Sabbath, they bring along a couple of bags of grape juice, a pack that’s something like a goodie bag. This allows the patients to observe Kiddush, the Jewish ceremony of praying over wine to start the Sabbath.</p><p>As for the EMTs, if they respond to something on the Sabbath, you might ask -- aren’t they violating the Sabbath by working? Frank says Hatzalah Chicago has a rabbinical board to think through those things.</p><p>“That’s where the Rabbinical Board comes in and says you guys need to do this in order to be a good responder,” said Frank. “You won’t be good to your community if your car is under two feet of snow. You won’t be good to your community if you don’t have an oxygen tank. You won’t be good to your community if you don’t have a radio to talk on.”</p><p>Barry Liss, Skokie’s deputy fire chief, says he’s never seen a small group start up a volunteer emergency service in Skokie. Liss says when Hatzalah first approached him to tell him what they were building, he was surprised.</p><p>“We weren’t certain that there was a need,” said Liss. “We want to know if there’s something we are missing, because we want to provide that need. That’s what society relies on. They rely on their emergency services to provide their emergency services to them.”</p><p>Liss is concerned that residents might stop calling 911 just because Hatzalah’s around. Hatzalah officials say they don’t want that to happen either. They say if someone who needs care doesn’t call 911, Hatzalah will. That’s partly because Hatzalah itself needs the fire department; as of now, and for the immediate future, Hatzalah doesn’t have the ability to transport patients to the hospital.</p><p>Liss says it’s good to have more boots on the ground, but he stopped short of praising the operation.</p><p>“We don’t know how it will work. Nor do they,” said Liss. “Just because you initiate something, you need to give it time to evaluate it. And that’s what we ask them to do.”</p><p>Liss says it’ll take a couple of years to know whether Hatzalah is making a difference, and Simcha Frank agrees. Frank says he has no idea how many calls Hatzalah will get, and he won’t know until it goes live. Still, he may do his own evaluation sooner. In 18 months Frank plans to revisit whether or not Hatzalah should buy ambulances and start transporting patients on its own.</p></div></p> Thu, 03 Nov 2011 12:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/orthodox-jews-launch-emergency-service-93709 As Illinois redistricting begins, public gets say http://www.wbez.org/story/chinatown/illinois-redistricting-begins-public-gets-say-84382 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-28/IMG_0008.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois state senators are hearing from Chicago area residents who want a say in redistricting, the once-a-decade, highly contentious and political process that determines boundaries for legislative districts. It is about power and influence, and on Monday afternoon dozens of people showed up to tell senators how they want the boundaries drawn.<br /> <br /> Kyle Hillman lives in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood, and said the community is a poor fit for its current district.<br /> <br /> &quot;There's a high crime rate and it has one of the largest food kitchens in the metro area, and yet it is included in a district that is mostly consisting of lakefront homes in Evanston in New Trier,&quot; Hillman told the Senate Redistricting Committee.<br /> <br /> Others complained their neighborhoods span several districts, watering down the community's influence.<br /> <br /> &quot;The greater Chinatown community area is a vibrant and cohesive community. Its interests are not served by being split into multiple districts, as it is currently,&quot; said Bernie Wong of the Chinese American Service League.</p><p>C. Betty Magness with the group IVI-IPO urged the senators to ignore politicians' addresses when they draft the boundaries.<br /><br />&quot;Districts should not be drawn to favor or discriminate against incumbents, candidates or parties,&quot; Magness said.<br /><br />Another issue that came up Monday has to do with the addresses of prisoners. Right now, they are counted as residents where they are incarcerated, which is most often downstate.<br /><br />&quot;Prisoners should be counted where they originate from, instead of where they're currently housed,&quot; testified Lawrence Hill with the Cook County Bar Association.<br /><br />The Illinois House could actually vote to make that change as early as Tuesday, according to the bill's sponsor, state Rep. LaShawn Ford. But the Chicago Democrat said it would not take effect until the next redistricting - ten years from now.</p><p>Monday's hearing was the first of <a href="http://ilsenateredistricting.com/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=78&amp;Itemid=117">at least five public forums</a> for the Senate committee. Lawmakers have until the end of June to approve a new legislative map, or the process will be put in the hands of a <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/commission/lrb/con4.htm">special commission</a>.</p></p> Mon, 28 Mar 2011 21:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/chinatown/illinois-redistricting-begins-public-gets-say-84382 Crime issue boils in some ward races, simmers in others http://www.wbez.org/story/24th-ward/crime-issue-boils-some-ward-races-simmers-others <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/24th Ward forum 2cropped.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicagoans who punch cards for their favorite aldermanic candidates might have the issue of crime on their minds. But depending on where they live, they will have heard more&mdash;or less&mdash;about crime from their candidates. Talk of crime is loud on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side, where there&rsquo;s relatively little violence. And some say there&rsquo;s complacency among candidates in West Side neighborhoods, where there&rsquo;s more crime. Two WBEZ bureau reporters, Odette Yousef and Chip Mitchell, look at this mismatch between crime and election talk. We start with Odette on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side.<strong><br /></strong><br />AMBI: Ready? Front! At ease.<br /><br />YOUSEF: Thirty or so police officers from the Rogers Park police district are on hand for an outdoor roll call. They&rsquo;re at Warren Park on a freezing night.<br /><br />AMBI: Twenty-four oh five, Twenty-four twelve...<br /><br />YOUSEF: Normally, police hold roll calls inside the district station. But 50th Ward Ald. Bernard Stone asked them to do it here this time.<br /><br />STONE: On behalf of the entire 50th Ward, I want to thank each and every one of you for what you do for us.<br /><br />YOUSEF: Usually, shows like this only happen when a jarring crime rocks a neighborhood. The police and community all come out to show criminals that law-abiding citizens still own the streets. But no major incident has happened recently in this police district. Ald. Stone is running for reelection. One of his opponents thinks that&rsquo;s the real reason he called this show of force: A little politics before a scheduled CAPS meeting. CAPS is the city&rsquo;s community policing program.<br /><br />MOSES: I was very disappointed in Ald. Stone trying to take CAPS and make it a political event. CAPS and politics do not mix.<br /><br />YOUSEF: So candidate Michael Moses leaves after the roll call. But he&rsquo;s the only one. The other four candidates all stay through the meeting. It&rsquo;s hard to say exactly how residents and politicians in the Rogers Park police district should feel about crime, because the stats are kind of all over the place. In 2010, general &ldquo;violent crime&rdquo; in the district fell more than 5 percent from the previous year but murder went up 75 percent. In another North Side police district, murder increased 400 percent. But consider this: That&rsquo;s from only one murder the previous year. So, we&rsquo;re talking about five murders in one North Side district in 2010. But some West and South side police districts saw dozens of murders last year. Still, crime is one of the top issues in North Side races.<br /><br />ROSENBAUM: Too often the media and everybody in this business, we talk about violent crime rate in Chicago. And the reality is that crime is more complex and neighborhood disorder is complex.<br /><br />YOUSEF: This is Dennis Rosenbaum. He&rsquo;s a criminologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Rosenbaum says even when violent crime may be low, residents feel fearful when they or their neighbors are victims of lesser offenses, like graffiti, car breakins, and auto theft. And, that fear translates into politics.<br /><br />ROSENBAUM: In times of fear and external threat, we tend to turn to authority figures to give us guidance. So it&rsquo;s a way of taking control over issues.<br /><br />YOUSEF: So Rosenbaum says it&rsquo;s little wonder North Side politicians are talking about nonviolent crime&mdash;after all, their constituents take it seriously. But there&rsquo;s another reason why North Side candidates are talking crime and safety. For two years, Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis has advocated so-called beat realignment. It would involve redrawing maps of where cops patrol, so there&rsquo;d be more officers and cars in high-crime areas. One fear is that the North Side would lose officers to the West and South sides, where there&rsquo;s more violent crime. Previous efforts to realign beats have fallen flat, but there are rumors Weis is still trying to make it happen. Weis declined to confirm those rumors for WBEZ this week, but here&rsquo;s what he told us a couple months ago.<br /><br />WEIS: What we think by moving people around from districts that are not necessarily the quietest districts, but districts that have an abundance of police officers, we think we can move them over to the districts that are shorter, we can start attacking the whole image of Chicago.<br /><br />YOUSEF: The future of beat realignment in Chicago is unclear. For one, the two frontrunners in the mayoral race are against it. And they say they want to dump Supt. Weis. Still, North Side aldermanic candidates continue to talk about realignment and run against it. One of them is Michael Carroll. He&rsquo;s running in the North Side&rsquo;s 46th Ward. He&rsquo;s also a cop.<br /><br />CARROLL: As a police officer, I know, absolutely, putting more police officers in high-crime areas to bring down the crime rate works. However, I have a very hard time sending our police assets from our community, when we have a clear problem with gang activity and violence somewhere else.<br /><br />YOUSEF: Carroll says his ward has pockets of violent crime that are just as bad as parts of Chicago&rsquo;s West or South sides. He fears losing cops on the North Side would make those places more dangerous. Carroll&rsquo;s opponents are pretty much of the same mind. Most want the city to hire more officers, rather than shift existing officers around. But those same candidates concede that could be tough because the city&rsquo;s faced with a $600 million deficit. Not many have detailed roadmaps for how they&rsquo;d overcome that tricky problem. But in the 48th Ward, one candidate does. It&rsquo;s Harry Osterman.<br /><br />OSTERMAN: What I&rsquo;d like to try to do is see if we can modify state law to use dollars for public safety. There&rsquo;s a surplus in TIF funds for the city of Chicago, and potentially using some of that to hire police officers is something that I think would be worthwhile.<br /><br />YOUSEF: Osterman&rsquo;s goal of hiring more police is popular on the North Side. But using TIFs to get there may be less so. Tax increment financing districts have a bad reputation for being slush funds. So, maybe it&rsquo;s telling that Osterman wants to use them. On the North Side at least, the debate about crime and safety is so loud that candidates will turn to whatever tools are around to ensure police resources stay put. Reporting from Chicago&rsquo;s North Side, I&rsquo;m Odette Yousef.<br /><br />MITCHELL: And I&rsquo;m Chip Mitchell at WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau. The political talk about crime is a lot different in this part of Chicago. Not many aldermanic candidates are hollering for more patrol officers. There are some loud voices on the issue. They&rsquo;re regular folks or community activists, like a woman named Serethea Reid. She moved into the Austin neighborhood a couple years ago.<br /><br />REID: There were people on the corner, drinking, selling alcohol out of the trunks of their cars&mdash;partying, loud music&mdash;two blocks from the police station.<br /><br />MITCHELL (on scene): So what have you done about it?<br /><br />REID: I started by calling the police. We&rsquo;d call, wait 10 minutes, call, wait 10 minutes, call. And the police were not coming.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Reid started attending local meetings of CAPS, the community-policing program. She soon noticed a stronger police presence near her house, but she wanted more help for the rest of Austin. So, last summer, Reid formed a group called the Central Austin Neighborhood Association. It meets in a church.<br /><br />AMBI: Today, I wanted, I was going to start with reviewing and sharing what our mission is....<br /><br />MITCHELL: Reid&rsquo;s group shepherds Austin residents to Police Board meetings, where they demand better service. She&rsquo;s writing various Chicago agencies for data to see if police response times are slower in Austin than in other neighborhoods. And Reid wants information about that beat-realignment idea police Supt. Jody Weis talks about.<br /><br />REID: All the responses I&rsquo;ve gotten were that it was going to take a few months before he&rsquo;s done: &lsquo;It&rsquo;s not finalized. We can&rsquo;t talk about it because he&rsquo;s working on it.&rsquo;<br /><br />MITCHELL: Reid says she feels like officials are giving her the runaround. She says her alderman isn&rsquo;t helping much either. That&rsquo;s despite the fact that it&rsquo;s election season, when politicians tend to speak up about nearly everything. So I&rsquo;ve been checking out West Side campaign events to see whether aldermanic candidates are pushing for police beat realignment.<br /><br />AMBI: I want to say thank you to each and every one of you candidates. Let&rsquo;s give them a round of applause.<br /><br />MITCHELL: This is a high-school auditorium in North Lawndale. Sixteen candidates crowd onto the stage to explain why they would be the best 24th Ward alderman. The forum lasts more than two hours, but not one of the candidates brings up the idea of realigning police beats or other ways to bring in officers from lower-crime areas. After the forum, I ask incumbent Sharon Denise Dixon why.<br /><br />DIXON: I can&rsquo;t answer that question for you, but that is a very good question. I can&rsquo;t answer it but it certainly should have been on the radar here, seeing that Lawndale is a high-crime area with lots of homicides and drug activity, etc. So that should definitely be a concern.<br /><br />MITCHELL: I&rsquo;ve reached out to aldermanic incumbents in five West Side wards with a lot of crime. All of the aldermen express interest in shifting police to high-crime neighborhoods. But none is trying to organize any sort of campaign to make it happen. In the 29th Ward, Ald. Deborah Graham points out that any organizing would meet resistance from people in low-crime areas.<br /><br />GRAHAM: Some of our aldermen on the north end [of the city] are fearful of losing their police officers.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Graham wishes police Supt. Jody Weis would lay out his plan and build public support for it.<br /><br />GRAHAM: Having a clear understanding of why we need the realignment&mdash;to ease their discomfort of possibly losing squad cars&mdash;would be very helpful.<br /><br />MITCHELL: But there may be another reason why so few West Side candidates are pressing the issue. 24th Ward challenger Valerie Leonard says many constituents don&rsquo;t want more officers.<br /><br />LEONARD: Talk to younger people, especially on the street. They say they&rsquo;re scared of the police. They say that the police are always picking on them and...<br /><br />MITCHELL (on scene): It&rsquo;s not a winning campaign issue.<br /><br />LEONARD: That&rsquo;s true, given the history.<br /><br />MITCHELL: The history includes a point in 2003, when Mayor Daley was running for reelection. He promised to realign police beats. That riled aldermen of lower-crime wards, including some on the North Side. After the election, Daley backed away from his promise. Instead of realigning beats, his administration set up elite police teams to rove across large swaths of the city, from one crime hotspot to another. That way, the low-crime areas didn&rsquo;t have to give up patrol cops. One reporter called it the path of least resistance. But Chicago police SWAT officer Erick von Kondrat points to a downside.<br /><br />VON KONDRAT: These teams out there&mdash;whether they&rsquo;re area gang teams or some of the other citywide teams that move from district to district on a need-by-need basis&mdash;they don&rsquo;t have that opportunity on a day-to-day basis to make the connections that are really going to bolster the trust between the community and the police department.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Officer Von Kondrat says distrust in the police partly explains why West Side aldermen don&rsquo;t campaign for more beat officers. But he says there&rsquo;s another reason. He noticed it when he was a 24th Ward candidate himself (before a challenge to his nominating papers knocked him off the ballot).<br /><br />VON KONDRAT: A lot of these incumbents, because Mayor Daley is leaving, they don&rsquo;t really know what they&rsquo;re going to be stepping into at this point in time.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Again, the mayoral frontrunners don&rsquo;t support beat realignment. So, Von Kondrat figures, no West Side alderman can afford to be on the new mayor&rsquo;s bad side.<br /><br />VON KONDRAT: Going against that force is probably not in your best interest. It wouldn&rsquo;t make much sense to bring that issue up.<br /><br />MITCHELL: The beat-realignment idea has stalled, time and again, since the 1970s. The alternative would be to hire more cops for high-crime areas. That&rsquo;s basically what the top mayoral candidates are suggesting. In this economic climate, though, it&rsquo;s not clear what option the city can afford: financing a larger police department or shifting around the cops it already has. Chip Mitchell, WBEZ.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 17 Feb 2011 21:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/24th-ward/crime-issue-boils-some-ward-races-simmers-others How (and why) those Rogers Park high schoolers made their anti-Rahm/pro-Miguel video http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-02-07/how-and-why-those-rogers-park-high-schoolers-made-their-anti-rahmpro-mig <p><p><iframe height="311" frameborder="0" width="500" allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/afonAiiMTm8" title="YouTube video player"></iframe></p><p>You&rsquo;ve probably seen the video that Chicago Public Schools students put together, attacking Rahm Emanuel and supporting Miguel del Valle for mayor. When it debuted on YouTube a little over a week ago, a lot of folks began to wonder if maybe it wasn&rsquo;t really all that grassroots, if the professionals at del Valle&rsquo;s campaign had nudged the kids to do their bidding. It&rsquo;s an awfully well done piece of politicking.</p><p>Well, it turns out that one of the counseling aids at Roger C. Sullivan High School, the video&rsquo;s home base if you will, is a former student and friend of mine. I asked Jacquelyn Rosa to tell me a little bit about how the video came about. This is what she said:</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&ldquo;Roger C. Sullivan High School, located on the far north side in Rogers Park, is where I work. This neighborhood Chicago Public high school, like the majority of high schools in Chicago, accepts all students.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Sullivan High school is not a selective enrollment school, there is no lottery; there are no admissions requirements. There is, however, a lack of resources; there are fights in the hallways, and high dropout rates. Worst of all, the students are made to feel on a daily basis that they don&rsquo;t matter; they are met with negative comments for attending their neighborhood schools. They are told to go elsewhere if they can, to travel hours away on public transit in order to receive a quality education. They are told that the school in their community is worthless. I cannot imagine being fourteen years old and trying to process this negativity for simply attending my neighborhood school.<span style="">&nbsp; </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">&ldquo;It has also been through working at this very school that I have met some of the most amazing, dedicated and resilient young men and women. These students, regardless of their socio-economic background, have dreams of achieving a higher education much like students who attend charter and selective enrollment schools. Although they do not have the ubiquitous &lsquo;college prep&rsquo; attached to their school name, many of them know that ultimately college is where they are headed.<span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">&ldquo;Gerardo Aguilera, Alexandra Alvarez, and Cristina Henriquez are all juniors at Sullivan High School. <span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34);">These students&rsquo; efforts to mobilize their community to support Miguel Del Valle has been developing since Gerardo attended the mayoral forum for high school students put on by the non-partisan Mikva Challenge organization last month. Gerardo was inspired by what he saw and took it upon himself to research each candidate individually. What he discovered was that Miguel Del Valle was committed to improving the quality of neighborhood public schools.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal">&ldquo;On Sunday January 29th, a group of volunteers for the Miguel Del Valle campaign from the Northside got together in Rogers Park to canvass the 40th&nbsp;ward.&nbsp;&nbsp;The group included&nbsp;Roger C. Sullivan high school students Gerardo Aguilera, Alexandra Alvarez and Cristina Henriquez, as well as CPS graduates, Julissa Castaneda, Carlos Daniel Rosa, and Sandi Gutstein. We collectively identified and discussed key issues we thought Rogers Park residents might ask us when canvassing. We watched the January 27th&nbsp;WGN debate online and focused our attention on the issue that affected us all the most: education policy in the city of Chicago. Rahm Emmanuel and Gery Chico made it extremely clear that they both were in support of a charter school agenda. Neither candidate had a plan for fixing our broken two-tier public school system.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&ldquo;And then we all heard it. Rahm Emanuel said: &ldquo;When you take out Northside, and when you take out Walter Payton, the seven best performing high schools are all charters.&rdquo; With a smug smirk on his face, Rahm Emmanuel had insulted every Chicago Public School student with misinformation about the academic efforts of even the elite selective enrollment schools.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&ldquo;Alexandra Alvarez immediately caught the comment that Emmanuel made about the city&rsquo;s seven best performing high schools. &lsquo;What about Whitney Young and Lane? I thought they were on the top list? They&rsquo;re not charters,&rsquo; she said. Gerardo Aguilera then asked: &lsquo;We don&rsquo;t go to a charter. Does that mean that our school can never be a top school?&rsquo; Finally, the comment that sparked the students to create the &ldquo;Invest in Our Public Schools&rdquo; Youtube video came from Cristina Henriquez: &lsquo;I don&rsquo;t think Rahm Emmanuel cares about us. We don&rsquo;t go to a charter school. We don&rsquo;t go to a top school.&rsquo;</p><p class="MsoNormal">&ldquo;What initially began as Saturday morning canvassing session turned into a full-on action. The students researched and found several articles listing the top Chicago public schools (including the one they used as their source from the <em>Chicago Tribune</em>). Armed with a flip camera, the students set out to film a video that would not only expose the inaccuracy in Rahm Emmanuel&rsquo;s statement but let the rest of Chicago know that there are thousands of students that attend their neighborhood schools who deserve to be invested in, deserve to be acknowledged and rewarded for being students in their community. <span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34);">Their message is clear: Del Valle is the candidate who will invest in public education for all students who, like them, do not go to selective enrollment or charter schools.&quot;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34);">&quot;</span><span style="color: black;">The video was filmed, edited, and posted to YouTube on the same day.&rdquo;</span></p></p> Tue, 08 Feb 2011 05:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-02-07/how-and-why-those-rogers-park-high-schoolers-made-their-anti-rahmpro-mig What Chicago's North Side business owners need to stay vibrant http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/what-chicagos-north-side-business-owners-need-stay-vibrant <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/devon.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>February 's 2011 municipal election is just around the corner. So &quot;Eight Forty-Eight&quot; head out into the neighborhoods to get a jump start on the issues and on WBEZ&rsquo;s municipal election coverage.</p><p><a href="http://rogerspark.com/" target="_blank">Rogers Park</a> is Tuesday's area of focus. The North Side neighborhood is driven by two vital commercial districts: Clark Street and Devon Avenue.</p><p>Much of the enterprise is the work of immigrants. So how are things faring and where is this neighborhood economy headed?</p><p>To learn more, &quot;Eight Forty-Eight&quot; turned to Amie Zander, the executive director of the <a href="http://www.westridgechamber.org/members.html" target="_blank">West Ridge Chamber of Commerce</a>.</p><p><em>Music&nbsp; Button: Bar Kochba, &quot;Abdiel&quot;, from the CD Lucifer: The Book of Angels Vol. 10 (Tzadik)</em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 30 Nov 2010 14:16:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/what-chicagos-north-side-business-owners-need-stay-vibrant Revision Street: Andres Flores (IV) http://www.wbez.org/blog/anne-elizabeth-moore/revision-street-andres-flores-iv <p><p><em>Andres used to be a partier, a drinker. He didn&rsquo;t want to settle down. Then he met Maria.</em></p> <p><em> </em></p> <p><em>Where did you meet your wife?</em></p> <p>She used to wash dishes with me when I was the cook in a Greek restaurant. The chef, he usually call her <em>little</em>, you know <em>chiquito</em>, <em>chiquito,</em> because she short. Then we all started calling her <em>chiquito</em>, making fun of the chef. We was very, very good friends, we always together. A lot of people thought we were boyfriend and girlfriend but we were only friends. We spent a lot of time together. We both like to talk, we don&rsquo;t like very expensive things, simple things. Like our dates were in McDonalds, Burger King, this little store. Five dollars, you have fun you know? We went to the park and I told her, If one day you marry me, I will open a restaurant and I&rsquo;m gonna name it Chiki&rsquo;s.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3002/3380807891_1cbd6dbe46.jpg"><img width="500" height="366" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3002/3380807891_1cbd6dbe46.jpg" alt="" /><br /><em>Rogers Park (photo by Michael Banks)</em><br /></a></p><p style="text-align: left;">I knew Maria was not going to marry me. I knew that because I wasn&rsquo;t the right person for her. I didn&rsquo;t have any intention to settle down. Me, if I don&rsquo;t like it today here, I run away. I go to Pennsylvania, I go to Texas, I go anywhere. I&rsquo;m more the free guy&mdash;I don&rsquo;t like to stay in one place.</p><p>So she did marry me four years later. I go to Mexico to talk to her mom, can she give me her hand in marriage? She didn&rsquo;t want to give it to me. So I come back to Chicago, and three months later I go back and see her again. So I ask my aunt for her car, I say, Hey, can you loan me your car, I&rsquo;m gonna go see Maria. I go see her, and I say, you know what? Let&rsquo;s go. She says, I&rsquo;m leaving with you. I say, You cannot leave with me, I have to go back home and bring the car back. I have to bring my aunt her car. She did this at the end of the town, so we&rsquo;re on the road to come here, so OK, we left. I called my aunt from the next town and said, I&rsquo;m gonna leave the car here, you come back and pick it up.</p> <p>That&rsquo;s how I marry her, and 21 years later I open the restaurant and I named it Chiki&rsquo;s, and she&rsquo;s the owner. But it&rsquo;s bad for her &lsquo;cause she has to work a lot now. So it wasn&rsquo;t really a good idea [<em>laughs</em>]. . . .</p> <p>The pizza good here, you taste it? We make good food, they say. I make the business plan, and I have a lot of people to help me. I have a lot of chefs and a lot of cooks. Once I get them here I bring them right straight to the kitchen and say, Let&rsquo;s come up with some recipes. I brought a lot of books. Books don&rsquo;t work that much. I think books&mdash;I mean, they give you an idea, but you cannot follow a recipe exactly. I always change it. I make a minestrone with two different books, I combine it. I make my own minestrone, and that&rsquo;s the way you learn how to cook. I&rsquo;ve been around the business for about 30-some years, so I know a little bit about cooking.</p> <p>I like what I&rsquo;m doing. I love what I&rsquo;m doing. I try to teach my son, I say, If you learn how to cook, you never go hungry. I believe you gonna be the most popular guy in the whole world, because people eat everywhere you go. If you know how to cook they gonna love you.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 13 Sep 2010 13:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/anne-elizabeth-moore/revision-street-andres-flores-iv