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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

This is what I get for not frequently watching C-Span...

If C-Span did more programs like American Writers, The American Presidents, and a few years back a program based on Tocqueville's Democracy in America I would probably watch more. Instead there is often rather dry coverage of public affairs. Perhaps dry isn't the right word but I suppose that for a long time it just doesn't interest me much.

Then I switch onto C-Span tonight and I find their latest special programming, The Capitol. And I'm liking it so far history has always been such an interesting subject for me. History was why I enjoyed the series American Presidents which aired back in 1999.

Either way this program is going to be aired over the next three nights. Tonight they talked about the history of the capitol itself. They looked at the early history of the Capitol, then the dome of the Capitol, and finally the looked at the bowels of the building. To my astonishment there was even a tomb that was meant for President George Washington!!!

The next two installments will looks at the House wing of the Capitol on Thursday and the Senate Wing gets its day on Friday. I hope you enjoy and you have your record buttons on!!!

Now I want to start watching C-Span more. This channel was the earliest way I got tuned into politics. And right on the heels of passing my eighth grade constitution exam with flying colors.

News from Harvey...

A couple of articles about this struggling south suburb. I remember that the Sun-Times within about the last year did a series about the filming of The Blues Brothers in Harvey. They filmed at a now shuttered shopping mall which still stands on Dixie Highway. The lot now has a government office (DCFS I believe) and a police station. Dixie Square Mall as I've known it was host to a chase scene right in the mall.

As I understand it they had major retailers come in with merchandise and security guards were apparently finding ways to steal the merchandise (this was in the article). John Belushi was able to crash at a home nearby the set slept on the couch and was a guest at a dinner. He must have been lucky enough to find some good people out there especially if Harvey is as rough as a lot of people believe it is today.

In redeveloping Harvey there have been numerous false starts like for instance Dixie Square Mall would have been razed and a new housing development in its place. I don't know what exactly happened but that never went forward. DePaul University was supposed to build another campus there and apparently that plan never went forward either.

Now there are plans for some new condominiums in downtown Harvey according to the Chicago Defender.

Local and county politicians touted “A New Harvey Rising” as the new slogan for the south suburban municipality as they unveiled plans Tuesday for the first ever condominiums development in the city’s downtown area.

The three-building, $1.5 million project, located at 153rd Street and Broadway, is the first move in attracting back young middle-class professionals to the predominately African American community, once a thriving suburb for upper-mobile Blacks many decades ago. The 13,500-square feet, nine-unit development will be completed in approximately six months.

Harvey Mayor Eric J. Kellogg told the Defender yesterday that this has been dream of his since being elected two years ago to help change the image of a city suffering from perceived corruption, high crime and violence.
Here's another good story about some double dipping into some Harvey Park District funds...
Three Harvey Park District leaders dipped into taxpayer funds to pay for a vacation, home improvements and even a child's college tuition, federal records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times indicate.

Talk of an investigation into the park district's finances has swirled around the south suburb since the FBI paid a visit to its offices two years ago.

Now, a federal affidavit alleges that the park district director, board chairman and assistant director used credit cards for thousands of dollars in personal expenditures. The board chairman used "dummy companies" as a way to obtain tens of thousands of dollars in park funds, according to the recently unsealed affidavit.
If Harvey is to ever gentrify then there is no doubt a long process and a lot of work to do there. And here's another story in which Harvey's park leaders have been urged to resign.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Wrasslin News...

I was watching Raw Monday night and it proved to be worthwhile. I'm mostly disappointed by what the WWE has offered. The women has turned me off the most. I like women wrestlers but I really like it if they can actually wrestle. Most of the ladies in WWE today are nothing but eyecandy and trained to take some bumps. And some of the gimmicks have proven to be flat in my opinion.

To my delight I have found out earlier this year that there will be another ECW:One Night Stand. And even better and this was reiterated tonight that ECW will be back full time no more once a year pay-per-views. Indeed last years One Night Stand seemed to be billed only as a one time deal. I guess it proved to be a success.

Before I get to the point I was honestly disapointed when I saw ECW and WCW fizzle out in the alliance angle almost five years ago. The once great promotion of WCW was turned into a joke and ECW was lumped right into that group. It would have been cool if the two promotion so be it a McMahon was only an onscreen presence for either ECW or WCW. This never came to pass however.

So tonight I saw The Hardcore Legend Mick Foley go face to face with former ECW owner Paul Heyman. It was a great segment Foley and Heyman traded barbs with each other until finally Paul started talking about ECW business. He talked about how Rob Van Dam (RVD) when he wins the WWE title would turn that belt into the ECW title and they announced that he was allowed to draft picks from Raw and Smackdown. Heyman even talked about a new vision for ECW which will include (all be it in a reduced mode) barbed wire and the pile driving women.

And this has made be really want to see some ECW. The first draft pick was the a-fore-mentioned RVD from Raw and then the bombshell that might reverberate in the wrestling world. Heyman says that they've been looking at this guy for a while. It was Kurt Angle and when I saw this I was leaping for joy because I didn't believe it and this seems like a great addition. I wonder ho Kurt Angle will work out with the hardcore aspect of ECW.

So Kurt Angle is a part of the new vision for ECW and it makes sense. Kurt Angle can actually wrestle a good match. While the bloody hardcore action of ECW attracted me to the action, ECW has some pretty good straight wrestling matches. Imagine this a straight wrestling match with no brawling, barbed wire, thumbtacks, tables, ladders, etc. Just straight wrestling the way I can see on ECW when they were on before they went bankrupt in 2001.

So it appears finally that Vince McMahon has lived up to a promise he made years ago. That ECW will ultimately become WWE's third brand. It almost didn't seem like it was going to happen either. I won't be able to watch the next ECW PPV but I really want to get the eventual DVD like I got the recent one which I haven't stopped watching since I bought it last Christmas.

But if you have PPV please purchase ECW:One Night Stand live on June 11, 2006.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Friday, May 26, 2006

Ald. William Beavers on the Cook County Board race...

This was from Tribune columnist Eric Zorn's blog. The response to Ald. Beavers comments are pretty good on this issue. This is what the Alderman had to say at a city hall press conference on Wednesday...

Ald. Bill Beavers (7th): It’s disrespectful to talk about replacing (Cook County Board President) John Stroger. There’s nothing wrong with him! Other than a stroke, which people have every day. Every day they have strokes. OK. He will be back, and he will retake the presidency of the county board.

Andy Shaw: You’re sure of that?

Ald Beavers: I’m positive.

Fran Spielman: Do you think there’s a double standard here, Bill? in terms of –-

Ald. Beavers: --It’s always a double standard when it comes to black folks and white folks, OK? Old Man (Richard J.) Daley had a stroke and was out for a year. Nobody said one word. They were even afraid to whisper that he was sick around here, OK? President Stroger is alive and well, and until he decides that he don’t want run again, it’s up to him. And whoever he decides is going to replace him, that’s what’s going to happen.

Andy Shaw: That doesn’t sound very democratic.

Ald. Beavers: Listen, if white folks can do it, black folks can do it, OK? Easily, all right? We’ve got control of the votes in the city and the county, so we do what we want to do, all right? Remember that.
The other news from the Cook County Board President race also include:

The Stroger family sells their home on East 91st Street from Capitol Fax Blog.

The GOP nominee for County Board President race demands to know if Stroger is well enough to perform his duties from Capitol Fax Blog.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thursday items...

I try to stay away from such a subject but check out this story about a gay transgendered teen being denied admission to his prom in Gary, Indiana.

Check out some footage from Meet the Vloggers Midwest from LimeBlog. According to the post from LimeBlog, Andrew Marcus who was responsible for some video shot during Cindy Sheehan's campout at Crawford, TX last year, is now a member of Chicago Videobloggers.

Cal Skinner has a good post about the lottery's ancestor, policy.

And check out some of the information from Illinoize and Capitol Fax Blog with regards to Blagojevich's new plan with regards to education funding. I've yet to dissemenate all the information.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I found a good link...

A regular commentor here, Cynthia, responded to my post about the Voting Rights Act of 1965. She gave a great link which talks about those rights that we take for granted which are not concretely in the US Constitution. Yes even voting rights which it says...

The Right to Vote

The Constitution contains many phrases, clauses, and amendments detailing ways people cannot be denied the right to vote. You cannot deny the right to vote because of
race or sex. Citizens of Washington DC can vote for President; 18-year-olds can vote; you can vote even if you fail to pay a poll tax. The Constitution also requires that anyone who can vote for the "most numerous branch" of their state legislature can vote for House members and Senate members. Note that in all of this, though, the Constitution never explicitly ensures the right to vote, as it does the right to speech, for example. This is precisely why so many amendments have been needed over time - the qualifications for voters are left to the states. And as long as the qualifications do not conflict with anything in the Constitution, that right can be withheld. For example, in Texas, persons declared mentally incompetent and felons currently in prison or on probation are denied the right to vote.

Thanks to Roy Neale for the idea.

So many rights that we take for granted not solidly in the constitution. So many things we say like "it's a free country" and it's not even in the constitution. Interesting.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The state of black voting rights.

Originally posted in the first month of this blog's operation (exactly January 23rd, 2005), I thought it was about time to repost this. People are actually reading this blog now unlike back in early 2005 and this issue is coming up more as it gets closer to 2007. Enjoy!!!!

It has just come to my attention that there is a way to debunk this rumor that black voting rights will expire in 2007. That rumor has apparently been going around since January of 1997. According to this rumor the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is set to expire in 2007 which means that a black person's right to vote will expire at that time. In addition, this piece of legislation was merely an ACT not a law. Also this act was extended by President Ronald Reagan in 1982 for another 25 years after that, so I suppose it would have expired sooner. This rumor sought another extension of this act and to make this a law.

The rumor is false of course. The NAACP on November 19, 1998 in a publication, The Internet Tourbus, had to address this issue,

"African American voting rights were granted by the Fifteenth Amendment, which was passed immediately after the Civil War. Expiration of the Voting Rights Act will not terminate the rights granted under the Fifteenth Amendment."
The Justice Department even issued a statement on April 2, 1998,

"The basic prohibition against discrimination in voting contained in the Fifteenth amendment and in the Voting Rights Act does not expire in 2007 — it does not expire at all; it is permanent."
That being said the source that I got this information from says,

"...that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is indeed set to expire unless it is renewed by Congress before 2007. The rest is false. The basic right of all Americans to vote, regardless of race, is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights and can't expire with the Voting Rights Act. "
This act from 1965 isn't the only thing that guarantees a black person's right to vote. It's in the bill of rights and the constitution. Of course our voting rights have been stepped upon in the past by racism, but this email was only designed to scare black Americans. Even one famous black attorney Johnnie Cochrane came to a Border's in Chicago and discussed this and even he believed this rumor to be true.

And for your personal information as this journal seeks to be here is something from the Department of Justice of the United States about the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Hopefully this rumor will rest in peace.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Rev. James Meeks is out of the running...

The news over the weekend was that state Sen. James Meeks is out of the race and had come to an agreement with Gov. Rod Blagojevich on school funding. It seems that there were those who thought this wasn't serious. For a not so serious campaign though I'm quite sure that he would have had a lot of support. I think there could have been a potential for realignment in Illinois politics had he gone forward.

This new plan he and the governor forged is expected to be unveiled on Tuesday.

Meanwhile read this post from northside state Rep. John Fritchey. He linked to a Chicago Defender article which talked about the future repercussions of Meek's third party candidacy. Check out this quote...
Though Meeks has dropped out of the race after brokering a deal with Blagojevich that will mean a new comprehensive school funding plan – to be announced on Tuesday - the decision to challenge a Democratic ally may be an example of an effective way to get attention for African American issues.

“A lot of research suggests Blacks have become a captured constituency,” said Reul Rogers, a political science professor at Northwestern University.

The Black state lawmaker’s threat to run against the governor, who needs Black votes to retain office, was a “bold tactical move to hold white Democrats accountable,” said Rogers.
...
“The Black vote has become all too predictable and because of that politicians on both sides feel the Black vote can be ignored,” said Rogers.

Democrats feel Blacks will automatically support them and Republicans counter that Black voters are spoken for, and as a result, don’t make a serious effort to capture them, he explained.

Meeks told reporters that the agreement reached with the governor showed not “rubber stamping” candidates can yield results.

“I got what I wanted,” he said.
He sure did. Hopefully Blagojevich will make good on this agreement. And then this has to get through the General Assembly. Still aside from this aspect of getting something in return for not running against Blagojevich I think this could have been a great opportunity.

Let me just state at this time that in this article it is mentioned that Meeks said he would have taken more votes away from Judy Baar Topinka that he would have from the governor. Although ther convention wisdom and the fear was that he would take votes away from the governor for this upcoming gubernatorial general election.

This article closes at this point...
Changes to school funding may be an important immediate payoff, but there may also be a longer term benefit to Meeks’ challenge of Blagojevich, Rogers said.

“You’re changing the equation. The issue is whether Blacks will come out in support of Democrats and that’s where the strategic power of African Americans lies, if the Republican Party made real overtures, it would be sensible to trade on that,” he said.
Perhaps more politically saavy independen-minded individuals can come forward and step up to the plate as Meeks had.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Judith Miller: I Was Tipped Off About 9/11

I had to post this from an email from Newsmax.com. I post this article in it's entirety.

Judith Miller: I Was Tipped Off About 9/11

Judith Miller, The New York Times reporter at the center of the I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby case, reveals that she received advance word about a terrorist plot that turned out to be 9/11 - but the Times spiked the story.

Miller spent 85 days in jail before finally disclosing that Libby was the source who confirmed to her that Valerie Plame was a CIA operative.

Miller - who's no longer with the Times - never wrote a story about Plame. But she's more troubled by another story that didn't run - the one about 9/11.

Miller began investigating al-Qaida after the terrorist group's October 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole in the harbor of Aden, Yemen.

Over the weekend before July 4, 2001, there were strong indications that terrorists were planning to attack the U.S. or a major American target elsewhere, Miller said in an interview with Scott Malone and Rory O'Connor that appeared on the Web site NavySEALS.com. The attack never materialized. But that weekend "I did manage to have a conversation with a source," she told the interviewers.

"The person told me that there was some concern about an intercept that had been picked up. The incident that had gotten everyone's attention was a conversation between two members of al-Qaida. And they had been talking to one another, supposedly expressing disappointment that the United States had not chosen to retaliate more seriously against what had happened to the Cole.

"One al-Qaida operative was overheard saying to the other, "Don't worry; we're planning something so big now that the U.S. will have to respond.'

"I was obviously floored by that information. I thought it was a very good story - the source was impeccable, the information was specific, tying al-Qaida operatives to, at least, knowledge of the attack on the Cole, and they were warning that something big was coming, to which the United States would have to respond. This struck me as a major Page 1-potential story."

However, when Miller met with her editor Stephen Engelberg, he was critical, noting that Miller didn't know who the operatives were, where they were overheard or what attack they were planning.

"At that point I realized I didn't have the whole story," Miller said. She continued to probe, but couldn't turn up enough information to satisfy Engelberg.

The story never ran. And two months later came al-Qaida's Sept. 11 attacks.

Engelberg, now managing editor of The Oregonian in Portland, told the Columbia Journalism Review: "More than once I've wondered what would have happened if we'd run the piece. A case can be made that it would have been alarmist and I just couldn't justify it, but you can't help but think maybe I made the wrong call."

Said Miller: "Sometimes in journalism you regret the stories you do; but most of the time you regret the ones that you didn't do."

Saturday, May 20, 2006

ILLINOIZE: Big box ordinance or Wal Mart ordinance?

ILLINOIZE: Big box ordinance or Wal Mart ordinance?

I haven't been following the Wal-Mart in Austin story for a while then I see this post from Illinoize I just had to blog about this.

First and foremost there does seem to be a war against Wal-Mart in this country. It seems to involve wages and benefits. The unions seem to dislike Wal-Mart. I've really yet to figure out why and the forces on the city council couldn't care less about struggling communities such as the recipient of this new city Wal-Mart Chicago's 37th ward.

Check out what 37th ward Ald. Emma Mitts said in the Chicago Defender...
Mitts and people from her community said the council should honor the wishes of the 37th Ward. Two years ago, the council granted zoning approval for Wal-Mart to open a store in Austin, but passage of the Moore's ordinance would halt the development if the company refuses to pay the higher wage.

"I don't think it's a good idea to just target Wal-Mart. Don't support me on one end and then turn around and back-door me on the other end. That's not right, and they can't really tell me why they're doing that," Mitts said of her fellow council members who support Moore's ordinance.
And then here's another article Bill Barr linked to and this is a kicker to me...

...this past Friday I got an eyewitness account of how the city does it. I was at LaLa Banquet Hall. LaLa’s is John Young’s newest business venture. Most everyone in Austin knows John. He owns the Citizens National Bank building at Laramie and Chicago avenues. You know the place (he has a 20-foot picture of himself on the sign for the building so that everyone can know what he looks like). Anyway, there I was when two people with badges and a laptop came in. They were from the city’s Dept. of Revenue, and they were serious. The wanted to check his licenses and snoop around to make sure everything was in order.

I asked them if the city were really serious about cracking down on those violating the laws, when would they begin to rid the sidewalks of those "corn carts" that are now popping up at every other corner in Austin—you know, the carts where the people have no running water to wash their hands, no bathrooms to go to and have the audacity to serve room temperature mayonnaise with who knows what kind of bacteria growing in it. The woman snapped at me and wanted to know if I owned the place. I told her no, but my journalistic nature was curious. She shot back and told me when they get complaints about it, they will do something.

So I watched while she pored over every document, making sure the "I"s were dotted and the "T"s crossed. She checked for the food handler’s license. She checked for the business license. She called someone on the phone and sounded disappointed that everything was in order. John, who has had several strokes, began to get visibly upset about the city picking on his business. I have since learned that the city likes to visit them regularly. And from what I saw, it looks more like harassment rather than enforcement.

With black businesses being held to the letter of the law, arrested, fined and closed while others are overlooked, we cannot afford to continue to "be in denial."

Interesting, this reminds me of a scene in a movie Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored. Honestly though I'm not totally sure what to make of this situation.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I was watching Tyra today...

It was much more interesting than I thought it would be. Can you believe that in doing this episode she was processed like any other inmate? She has to strip naked, then bend over, cough and some other things before she got into prison. How humiliting and cold, unfortunately I can only imagine what other convicted criminals go through when they go through these motions. I'm sure some guys were thinking how hot Tyra naked being checked out by prison guards, but don't forget that this is what a human being goes through who has been convicted of a crime. This may seem like a turn on but it won't be if a woman realizes what she is going through when she loses her freedom. This just has to be humiliating for any human being.

That being said a story caught my attention. A woman was convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia. She called the police to tell them that some one had broken into her house and it turns out that she had drugs in there. They arrested her although it was her boyfriends drugs but it didn't matter. It was HER home.

This was an episode of COPS once. A girl was stopped drugs was found in the car and then they found her boyfriend, who actually owned the drugs, but he let his girlfriend take the fall for it. The officers knew what was up but there wasn't much they can do. The girlfriend was left in the back of the squad car to yell, scream and cry about the fact that her cowardly boyfriend left her out to dry.

If there is a lesson in this it is to watch who YOU make friends with. I had to look up some information on drug possession this is what I found disturbing...
Some jurisdictions have mandatory minimum drug possession laws, which dole out punishments for possession in cases regardless of specific circumstances in a case. Mandatory minimum drug possession laws do not take into account a defendant’s background, involvement in the crime, or threat to society when determining punishment.
This is really a good reason to watch the company you take.

Also there was another unfortunately story. One of the ladies Tyra met in a California women's prison was a daughter whose mother gave her up after they both plotted to kill an abusive boyfriend. Man not only you have to watch your friends, you have to realize you can't trust no one, even sometimes your mother.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Dan Ryan reconstruction issues...

According to the Chicago Defender, some black alderman are on the war path with regards to the lack of contracts or jobs for blacks. Check this out...

Although the project runs through the heart of Chicago’s Black communities, Hispanics have more jobs on the project than African Americans; fewer than 2 percent of the firms working on the project are Black-owned; and the Illinois Department of Transportation failed to make infrastructure improvements to wards where highway traffic has been rerouted.
The article mostly talks about how IDOT Secretary Tim Martin lied about the impact of Ryan reconstruction on those communities affected by the Dan Ryan reconstruction. Also the issue is not of inconvience, the south side alderman contend that their communities have been locked out of working on the project. This is what 20th ward alderman Arenda Troutman said...
“This was a half-cocked proposal and an unorganized, ill advised effort,” Troutman said. “It was a great idea, but shouldn’t we have some community input?”
And here's something else that strikes me...
Troutman, whose ward runs alongside the expressway, asked Martin why so few Blacks are working on the $600 million project.

Martin told her that trade unions rejected his proposals to buy back members’ dues that were in arrears and to target certain zip codes for union membership.

“That really frustrates me,” Troutman said. “Historically we’ve been shut out and we’re still shut out of the unions.”
Now this bothers me. Of course Martin's chief of staff Clayton Harris has this to say about Ald. Troutman's charge that black contractors have been kept from profiting from this project...

“There are no Black road building contractors working on the Dan Ryan. Blacks have no more than 2 percent of the Dan Ryan or the Kingery (Expressway reconstruction) project,” she said.

Harris said few Black companies were available with the ability to take on a project of this magnitude.

“We can encourage a Walsh (Construction) to partner with someone, but we cannot force them,” Harris said.
I don't think I like this quote by Ald. Troutman. It's an outlandish suggest to me that she makes of these unemployed by tradesman...

Though there are about 200,000 construction jobs in Chicago, there could be as many as 10,000 unemployed Black people in construction trades in the city who want to work on projects in their own backyards. Instead, those people are left to suffer through and commit street crime, Troutman said.
Ouch. I can agree that IDOT may need to do a better job of getting black contractors onto this project but I think an umemployed black person in the construction trade should be insulted by the alderman's comment.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Blame Harold Washington???

Daley's former Patronage Chief, Robert Sorich, is currently on trial in federal court. And in this recent column by Mark Brown, we see the responses of two black alderman with regards to the defense made by Sorich's lawyers...

In response to allegations by federal prosecutors that Sorich and the others rigged city hiring and promotions in favor of politically-connected job candidates, three of their defense lawyers argued Monday that their clients' actions were in large part driven by a 1985 executive order from former Mayor Harold Washington setting affirmative action goals for city hiring.
Alderman Ed Smith thought this was a joke and laughed. Brown said later on that Smith wants to get along with the Daley administration so Smith asked Brown to not mention the laughter in the column. Here's more...

Lawyers Thomas Anthony Durkin, Patrick Deady and Cynthia Giacchetti each said that the Mayor's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, where Sorich and two of the others worked, properly played a role in hiring because of Mayor Daley's concerns about providing racial diversity in the city workforce -- in furtherance of Washington's order.

In other words, when the mayor's men flouted the Shakman decree by arranging for job applications and interviews to be fixed, they were doing it largely for the benefit of minorities and women.

Never mind non-minorities Donald Tomczak, Daniel Katalinic, the boys from the Coalition for Better Government and others whose political organizations were at the front of the patronage line for a long time before the mayor's favors turned to his loyalists in the Hispanic Democratic Organization.
The key name was Harold Washington. The late mayor of Chicago who died when he just might be able to pass some of his programs through a council which was no longer hostile to him. Obviously Smith who served on the city council during Washington's mayoralty found this defense to be outrageous.

Here's a little more from Smith and the column...
"I don't have any jobs that have come through them," he said of the intergovernmental Affairs office. "No one has come in the office and indicated to me they got jobs through Intergovernmental Affairs."

Maybe Smith got a few jobs through some other route at City Hall. I don't want to put him in a box. But it's well-known that the mayor's favorite alderman on the West Side is the 29th Ward's Isaac "Ike" Carothers, whose job candidates did receive favorable treatment from Sorich's operation.
Brown also talked to Alderman Toni Preckwinkle...

"It's preposterous that these defendants should lay this on Harold Washington's doorstep," Preckwinkle said.

But she didn't deny that the mayor's patronage office practiced affirmative action.

"It's political affirmative action," Preckwinkle said. "It's nothing to do with race and gender. It's affirmative action for their cronies."

Now there is a media component to the charges against Sorich too...
In response to prosecutor Patrick Collins' opening line that the case is about "breech of the public trust," defense lawyer Durkin, who represents Sorich, said he believes the government's case "is about the betrayal of normal prosecutive procedures to embarrass if not perhaps unseat with the help of the Chicago Tribune a very popular sitting mayor.''

If there were such a conspiracy, we at the Sun-Times, birthplace of the Hired Truck Scandal, should probably share in the blame -- or credit, as the case may be. But that may sound like sour grapes, and anyway, there's no conspiracy.

You can't really blame Durkin for making it a case about the mayor -- because it is. But Durkin later said this case is really about the mayor's father, Richard J. Daley, not Richard M., a theory that I'm not sure that I can explain other than that the Shakman case dates back to Richard I's reign.
The funny thing here is that if affirmitive action is important to the black community then it's great to see that two black alderman seem to be keeping an eye on this case. Job or contracts that should have gone to minorities don't just go to minorities they go to those minorities or indeed anyone who have given political support. I'm only tepid supporter of affirmitive action, but it is unfortunate that a little trickery is involved here.

Crossposted at Illinoize!!!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Shaw twins robbing Dolton taxpayers

There doesn't always seem to be news coming from Dolton, Illinois but then again I'm not in the loop. The Shaw brothers have been political players for years. They were the powers that be on the far south side of Chicago then they moved to the south suburbs in recent years.

I was surprised to see Carol Marin write about their shenanigans in Dolton. See Robert Shaw ran for mayor of South Holland and lost and lost his seat on the Cook County Board of Review then his brother William (Bill) the mayor of Dolton named his brother inspector general in Dolton. A real interesting column, Marin believes these long time pols aren't exactly thinking in the best interest of the citizens of as Marin puts it, "mostly African-American suburb of their hard-earned tax money."

Check this out from Carol Marin...

It's time to see them for what they are: Frank and Jesse James in bad wigs. They are bank robbers. That bank belongs to the poor, put-upon taxpayers of south suburban Dolton.
...
They are what they have always been, a two-man political tag team grabbing with four hands.

Their latest outrage was made public nine days ago when village trustees hired Bob to be Bill's -- I can barely type this out -- inspector general.

Question: What does an inspector general in Dolton do?

Answer: Nothing, if his name is Shaw.

Mayor Shaw would like us to believe he had no involvement in the hiring of his brother. That the decision was the brainchild of civic-minded, independent trustees who sit on his village board.

Unfortunately, you and I weren't in the room when those righteous village officials gave Bob Shaw his marching orders. But I imagine his instructions went something like this, listed in order of importance:

1. Collect $70,000 annually.

2. Accept a village car, all expenses paid.

3. Take full advantage of a complete health insurance package, even though you are an independent contractor and not a village employee.

4. Fearlessly investigate corruption wherever you may find it, but please note two important exceptions.

5. Those exceptions: us and your brother.

Yes, Bob Shaw is the new corruption-busting Inspector Clouseau of the south suburbs but forbidden by an amended ordinance from investigating the offices of mayor or village trustee.
And also look at the mentality that Marin touches upon here...
I want to be fair here. The Shaws long ago learned government from the pros. After all, Bob was a member of the Chicago City Council, where the notion of an independent inspector general sent them into gales of laughter. That's why even today, the city's new impeccably credentialed inspector general, David Hoffman, and his stellar team of former FBI agents are not allowed to investigate the aldermen. The aldermen passed an ordinance that says so.

...In 2004, he lost re-election to the county's Board of Review. (Not, however, before voting to give his brother Bill a big tax break on his Dolton home, saving Bill about $1,200 a year while neighboring houses, for some strange reason, weren't so lucky.)

Check this out. Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has been feuding with these twins for a while. Robert Shaw lost two elections to candidates who has some support from Jesse Jackson Jr. I suppose the same can be said about Rev. James Meeks who won his state senate seat from Mayor Shaw he is aligned with Congressman Jackson. Another colorful story from that part of town in the last election cycle the Shaws attempted to run another Jesse Jackson against Congressman Jackson. And check out this dirty trick from the recent primary directed against state Rep. David Miller.

So Marin closes this column with this...
I see it as kind of a justice issue.

Stick up a 7-Eleven and grab a small handful of cash and you will go to jail. Stick up the citizens of Dolton and you know what you get?

Seventy grand and a car.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

I just heard something on cable access...

So according to this teacher, Sheila Frazier, who serves on her schools local school council, the Chicago Public Schools has been cited by the Justice Department in 2004 for their lack of complaince with the desegregation order which mandates that the schools not only do schools desegregate but they also have comparable programs across the board. This means that if a school is all black or hispanic, they must have magnet programs or advanced placement programs and so on and so forth. Interesting.

I like to watch Chicago Access Network because I've found good information from there. This made my day.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Year of the Black Republican?

I suppose we'll have to see about that but thanks to Evan Coyne Maloney we see a take on the developments among three races around the nation this year. Ken Blackwell won his primary in Ohio for governor. Lynn Swann is struggling in Pennsylvania but hopefully he'll have time. Michael Steele in Maryland was said to be heavily recruited in the Washington Post article Maloney linked to.

Maloney goes to the traditional issues involved with a black running as the GOP standard bearer. I have always felt that this antipathy (if I can call it that) is unfair, but all I can say for these three gentleman is we will see if they will be able to break the hold of the Democratic Party on black voters. The other articles linked in Maloney's article are interesting as well.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

What happened here???

I heard about this on the news but they didn't seem to know who this woman was. I found a little more about this woman, found lying facedown outside of a building at the Robert Taylor Homes apparently lying there after being thrown or falling 7 stories, in the Chicago Sun-Times. She was wearing nothing but her underwear.

She didn't die though. This 21 year old UCLA students who must not be a native of Chicago was stranded in Chicago. She couldn't get a ticket at Midway and caused a disturbance, ultimately she was kicked out of Midway. Here's a little more from the Sun-Times article....
A man was being sought for questioning. Police were also seeking to confirm reports the woman came to Chicago with another man to dance at a nightclub for several thousand dollars. The woman has worked as a dancer and stripper to put herself through college, the source said.
Uh-oh another story about a stripper and even worse than the news from the past month out of Duke University. The difference is this girl could have been killed after falling seven stories. The similarity is that both may have been allegedly sexually assaulted.

I just have to admit that this is just an awful story.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Riding around the city this past weekend...

So basically I went through the far south side and then I saw the near south side along the State Street corridor and then on 63rd and Cottage. I saw so many new sites since I've been back home it's amazing. I just wish I had thought to bring my camera with me, I'll be smart enough to do so when I take another ride.

I want to talk about Roseland for a second. I left the south suburbs taking the local streets and we found our way on Michigan Avenue. I was amazed to see the strip mall on the corner of 115th and Michigan cleared. It used to house a Christian bookstore (which was once a Perry Drug Store), a cafe, a laundromat, and even a grocery store. This strip mall has been shuttered for a long time until I saw this lot cleared. I found out later in a newsletter from 9th ward Alderman Beale is being developed by Crown Developer with a grocery store to anchor the new development there. The first full service grocery store in that area.

Also along that stretch of Michigan Avenue a new building for the south branch of Seaway National Bank is finally being built on the block of 111th and Michigan. The building that currently houses the branch may be torn down. That building once housed a Walgreen's which is now right across the street from its original location.

We continue north and we see some new homes at about 107th and Michigan. A new home right on the corner and it appears to have a new resident too. A very nice new home. There have been a new development that has been up since the 90s mostly apartments. Then further north at 104th and Michigan a new senior building is being built. I tend to dislike such developments in poor neighborhoods mainly because I feel there are better things to build in poor communities but that is only my thing.

Another day I took a detour away from the traffic jam on the Dan Ryan expressway at about 58th and then turned to ride along State Street. It has been a long time since I saw that stretch near the L tracks south of 58th there used to be a Lem's BBQ joint but I doubt that place still exists. For not being on that stretch for a while it was great to see one familiar place, a Butternut bakery shop on Garfield and State.

Beyond that however we saw nothing but green vacant lots which were sites of public housing high rises which have been demolished in favor of progress. There was a little family history here my mother could point out exactly where her uncle used to live along state street and that building is now gone. Of course we also passed by the historic Overton Hygenic Building along State Street.

We would find our way back that way again when I left from downtown. There was a sign or an office for the new development to be build on 35th and State. Then I headed east toward Cottage Grove to head towards Lakeshore Drive. We passed by what is now a University of Chicago Charter School in the building of Donoghue Elementary School. There is lots of chage to be sure on the near south side.

Finally one night I was on Cottage Grove after leaving Hyde Park along the stretch from about the Midway Plaisance to 63rd Street where there seemed to be a police camera on every block. That must be a rough area if the cameras are that close together. I saw what I thought was an unusual sight, some white people well dressed. I'm thinking what are they doing there. I quickly found out.

My mother was telling me about a ballroom being refurbished south of 63rd and Cottage Grove and as I drove by it, I liked the sight of it. This ballroom really was out of place but give it a few years and one day it won't look out of place at 63rd and Cottage Grove. I have to admire those individuals responsible for restoring and reopening this ballroom. Check out this story from HydePark.org.

Perhaps I'll do some timely Chicago area photoblogging during the summer.

ILLINOIZE: Todd Stroger Set to Replace Dad? Not So Fast

ILLINOIZE: Todd Stroger Set to Replace Dad? Not So Fast

I'm going to learn not to post this accidentally on Illinoize.

This has been in the news a lot lately and this post at Illinoize by Sammy Esposito was a pretty good post. I had written my two cents on Todd Stroger being slated for Cook County Board president over at Illinoize.

Here's another post from Morose Hellhole and then read Mary Mitchell's latest column.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Great Deluge...

A history professor Douglas Brinkley was on The O'Reilly Factor tonight talking about his latest book The Great Deluge. He started on this book during the height of this story last September. He really dices up Mayor Ray Nagin and of course President Bush and Louisiana Gov. Katherine Blanco aren't totally blameless either. Anyway I'd like to bring this book to your attention if you'd like an analysis of the catastrophe.

Monday, May 08, 2006

ILLINOIZE: Maldistribution of Chicago School Resources

ILLINOIZE: Maldistribution of Chicago School Resources

Another Cal Skinner post. He served with Harold Washington in the General Assembly before Washington became a congressman and a mayor.

In any event I would wonder if there is a point here that a serious "maldistribution" of resources in the public schools. There was a bill from way back in which it was required that the Chicago Park District had to distribute its funds equally across the city. The bill was ultimately pass but I can only imagine that the ethnic city whites didn't want this bill to see the light of day.

Any way go to Illinoize and read this post and leave a comment if you'd like.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Kentucky Derby

I saw some of the lead up to the Kentucky Derby today. I was amazed to see Ludacris there are the derby all dressed up almost like a pimp. I had to do some errands today so I couldn't stick around and watch the actual derby.

This reminded me of the many times I was with my dad. We during the day or at some moments during the afternoons or evenings went to the races. We went to them all in the area such as Sportsman's Park, Hawthorne Race Course, Arlington International Racecourse, Maywood, and Balmoral.

It seems that although racing has no season if I recall correctly the harness racers ran during the fall and winter while the throughbreds would run during the spring and summer. I never understood the betting system. For instance I never understood betting to place or show and I never understood the trifecta. All I knew was that my dad would bet on the horses and they would race and whoever was the fastest won.

I miss those days. It's not likely that I'll ever do it myself in the near future though but who knows maybe I can buy a horse that will make it to the Kentucky Derby. I won't merely make a bet. Since we're talking about the Kentucky Derby I'm willing to bet that one would need some serious cash to bet.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Andy Garcia Tells His Cuba Story, at Last

I found this article in an email from NewsMax.com. It's very interesting. Check it out and I post the entire article in its entirety.

NewsMax Exclusive

Andy Garcia Tells His Cuba Story, at Last
Breaking From NewsMax.com
By Peter Davidson

Andy Garcia owns two magnificent houses -- one is in Hollywood where he works, and the other is in South Florida where he grew up. But home is in Havana, Cuba, which he fled as a young boy, and Garcia says he will never go back until his native land has been freed from Fidel Castro's tyranny and repression.

"I am opposed to the regime," the 50-year-old movie star said during a recent interview with NewsMax, adding that he would have liked to return to his homeland for a visit but "in honor of all the people who have died and suffered under the [Castro] regime, I'm not able to make that leap."

Instead, Garcia has applied his considerable skills as a filmmaker to recreate the Cuba of his memory and his imagination. The result is the recently released film "The Lost City," his opus to freedom.

The movie is his directorial debut. It's also a film he co-produced and stars in. It took Garcia 16 years to bring the film to the silver screen. "I couldn't get any support; I couldn't get financing," he said. "Selling a Cuban story to Hollywood wasn't easy."

For a long time Hollywood has been sympathetic to Cuba's longtime dictator, even though Fidel Castro gets failing marks from liberal groups.

Amnesty International cites Cuba's "illegitimate curbs on freedom of _expression" and its "detention of dissidents for the peaceful _expression of their beliefs." Human Rights Watch in its 2006 report condemned Castro for continuing "to enforce political conformity using criminal prosecutions, long- and short-term detentions, mob harassment, police warnings, surveillance, house arrests, travel restrictions, and politically-motivated dismissals from employment. The end result is that Cubans are systematically denied basic rights to free _expression, association, assembly, privacy, movement, and due process of law."

Cuba has also persecuted minorities like Havana's Jews (almost all were forced to flee Cuba) and gays -- in past years hundreds were thrown into forced labor camps.

But stars like Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford and Leonardo DiCaprio have made pilgrimages to Cuba, and Nicholson went so far as to gush that Cuba is "simply a paradise."

Garcia is not quick to point to politics as the key reason for his struggle to get his story onto film. "Can politics have an influence on someone's decision?" Garcia asks. "It's possible, but I can't say for sure because that was never articulated to me."

Then, almost as an afterthought, he said: "A lot of movies are set against a political backdrop. My favorite film last year was 'Good Night and Good Luck.'"

That movie, directed and co-written by George Clooney, recounted broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow's effort to bring down Sen. Joseph McCarthy. It won rave reviews and six Oscar nominations. But "The Lost City" was a film Andy Garcia was determined to make, and it didn't matter to him how long it took.

"Not telling this story was never an option," he says. "I figured I could outlast everyone who said no, that if I didn't play [lead character] Fico I could always play the father, or just direct and not play anyone."

Finally, Crescent Drive Entertainment said yes, backing "The Lost City." The movie was filmed in an unusually quick 35 days in the Dominican Republic for $9.5 million -- a modest amount for a major production.

Garcia says his film recaptures "a time when Havana was the Paris of the Caribbean, a vibrant, elegant and cultured city threatened and subverted by violence and social injustice, then torn apart by a revolution that became misguided and, finally, betrayed."

The screenplay was written by famed Cuban novelist Guillermo Cabrera Infante, an exile who died in London in February 2005. It's based on his 1967 novel "Tres Triste Tigres." Co-starring Bill Murray, Dustin Hoffman and Spanish beauty Ines Sastre, the film is set in the late 1950s. It tells the story of a middle-class family ripped apart by the Cuban Revolution.

The history of the Cuban Revolution is clear-cut. Fulgencio Batista was overthrown by rebel Fidel Castro in 1959. Castro appeared to many as a hero at first, but he soon became a pawn of Russia -- an alignment that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
In his fictional account of those days, Garcia plays Fico Fellove, the owner of a Havana nightclub. Two of his brothers become Castro supporters and join the revolution while Fico, who is apolitical, desperately tries to avoid taking sides -- only to see his life destroyed by Castro's repression and Che Guevara's ruthlessness.

About Guevara, Garcia says, "Che has been romanticized over the years, but there is a darker side to his story. People wear his T-shirt like pop art. They don't know who he is. He looks like a rock star, but he executed a lot of people without trial or defense."

"The Lost City" was a big hit at the Miami International Film Festival, where Garcia received a standing ovation from 1,600 moviegoers, mostly Cuban-Americans. Dozens of viewers told him, "This is my story."

It's Andy Garcia's story as well, and it's his wife's story, too. In 1982, Garcia married Marivi Lorido, a Cuban-American whose story parallels his own. They have four children -- Dominik, Daniella, Alessandra and Andres -- and a commitment to each other that has never wavered despite his status as a Hollywood leading man and his selection by Esquire as one of the 100 sexiest stars in film history.

"I left Cuba when I was 5 1/2, and I remember everything," he says. When he closes his eyes he can still smell his father's farm, and recall how the soil felt when he walked on it, and he can feel the cold terrazzo tile floors of the family's home and hear his grandmother playing her piano.

Garcia also remembers what happened after Castro took over: "Conditions became progressively worse for us. The government took our land. Money that was in the bank was taken, too. The state passed a law and parents lost their rights to their own children."

And he remembers the Bay of Pigs Invasion of April 17, 1961, when 1,300 armed Cuban exiles landed in an ill-fated attempt to topple the Castro regime. He remembers the strafing of Havana, hiding under his bed, and going out the next morning to collect spent shells from the anti-aircraft batteries.

Then one day in mid-1961, his mother brought him a glass of orange juice and told him, "We're going to Miami tomorrow." He sensed right then that they weren't coming back, at least not for a while, so he paid close attention to everything that was happening around him.

The next day Andy, the youngest of the three Garcia children, his brother Rene, sister Tesse, mother and paternal grandmother headed for the Havana airport. His father remained behind.

At the airport, the family had to pass through a final glass-enclosed checkpoint before being allowed to board their flight to freedom. It was called the fishbowl, and it was where everyone who was leaving Cuba was searched by Castro's thugs, the Revolutionary Guards, and anything and everything of value was taken from them.

His 12-year-old sister was wearing bangle bracelets, but they wouldn't come off over her hand, so one of the thugs picked up a pair of clippers. "I thought he was going to cut her hand off to get the bracelets," Garcia said. Instead, the thug cut the bracelets.

When they landed in Miami, they were so empty-handed that his mother had to borrow a dime to make a call on a pay phone to relatives who had already fled Castro's Cuba. The five Garcias took up residence in a single room in a motel off Collins Avenue in Miami Beach.

One month later, Garcia's father arrived in Florida and went to work for a catering company, which he later bought. He was also in the sock business, delivering socks to retailers on consignment. Every night after dinner the Garcia family would sit at the table and sort the socks, putting them on little plastic hangars. "I was pretty good at it," Garcia says proudly.

He was pretty good at Miami Beach High School, too, where he played on the basketball team and dreamed of becoming a professional athlete. But in his senior year an illness prevented him from playing so he turned to the drama department.

After graduating from high school he enrolled at Florida International
University, where he continued his drama studies. From there he went to
Hollywood, landing a role as a Latino gang member on TV's "Hill Street Blues."

That was in 1981. Other prominent roles followed -- he played a cocaine kingpin in 1986's "8 Million Ways to Die," one of Eliot Ness's men in 1987's "The Untouchables," and a detective in 1990's "Internal Affairs." But his career soared after he landed a starring role in "The Godfather Part III."

Along the way he studied the techniques of master filmmakers such as Sidney Lumet and Francis Ford Coppola, who directed him in "The Godfather Part III." And he reconnected with his Cuban roots, especially with the island nation's music from the '40s and '50s, producing four albums and a documentary.

In 2000, he starred in the HBO film "For Love of Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story," about the Cuban trumpeter great whose passion, like the character Garcia plays in "The Lost City," is music but whose dream is freedom.

Says Garcia, "'The Lost City' is about many things, but it is the music that runs deep in my veins. Neither blockades nor artistic repression can contain it. It is inexorable; like water, it will always get in and out."

Meanwhile, Garcia believes that Castro's tyranny will be swept away. "It breaks my heart that Cuba is not free, but I'm optimistic that one day it will be," he says.

He's certain that day will come. "Absolutely," he says. And when it does, Andy Garcia will, at long last, be able to go home.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Star Trek 11

My photoblog has at least two videos of Star Trek spoofs. One was horrible and I'm willing to bet was something of an amusement for the people involved. It obviously involved a family in front of a blue screen with the original Enterprise crew consisting of McCoy, Uhura, Sulu, Checkov, & Scotty. In other words this family became a part of the Star Trek action. The other was titled Scottish Star Trek and I'm not going to elaborate further you just should watch the video.

The next Star Trek movie is going to be released in 2008 according to StarTrek.com. I've even hear rumors that Captain Kirk might be played by Ben Affleck. The Star Trek franchise normally doesn't seem to spent a lot of money on talent. Thank the Great Bird of the Galaxy for that.

But Ben Affleck as James T. Kirk? I think he'd be a better choice to play Mr. Spock if this Starfleet Academy adventure ever gets off the ground. Though some would say that would be so wrong.

Oh yeah I didn't mention that part. The next movie might be a prequel showing how Kirk and Spock met at Starfleet Academy. I can only hope that they can do this concept some justice when it is finally released to theaters almost two years from now.

ILLINOIZE: Half-Truth from the Rev. and State Senator James Meeks

ILLINOIZE: Half-Truth from the Rev. and State Senator James Meeks

I really like this post from Cal Skinner on Rev. James Meeks proposed platform of more state funding for the public schools. Mr. Skinner touched on one fact of education funding in Illinois. According to the Illinois Policy Insitute, 62% of the funding for public schools come from property taxes. Only 30% of education money comes from the state. So if you go on the basic facts Meeks is correct Illinois is last when it comes to state dollars for local public schools.

Still this would lead me to think that Meeks is still barking up the wrong tree. If he really wants schools to improve on the far south side of Chicago he shouldn't just be looking at tax dollars. There are a number of other factors here. Might the schools still be doomed to failure even if they get more money from the state?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

May Day Protest Videos...

There was a series of immigration protests around the country yesterday. The first glimpse I got of May Day was from DavidMeade.com a local videoblog. Evan Coyne Maloney announced at Brain-Terminal.com that there will be video from a number of cities around the country courtesy of his partner at On The Fence Films, however, there are only video stills up currently. In addition Andrew Marcus also has some video of these immigration protests as well.

Monday, May 01, 2006

More "regnef" stuff...

I blogged about Fenger High School last Saturday. About a teacher who blogged about the happenings at Fenger where he taught. Needing people to read his blog he told some people and things went down hill from there. So today I check out the blog that watches the Chicago Public Schools and I see a link to a Tribune column by Dawn Rice Turner.

Basically this teacher was referred to in this column as Mr. So & So. He helped some students who he taught in a government and economics class prepare for a mock trial. They have to do this for a real live judge. He really helped those kids out a lot and the theme of this column was to prove this teacher's assertions wrong. These kids who were supposedly dealing drugs in the halls and having sex in the staircases went out to prove their teacher wrong.

She definitely didn't like what the teacher said about the sudents. She didn't address what the teacher said about his colleagues. But there is no denial that Fenger isn't without it's problems. But consider what Turner writes about...

The competition, which has been around for more than two decades, isn't designed for students who get the best grades or show the most promise. It's geared toward those kids who haven't excelled and who may be easily overlooked and just as easily cast aside. The teacher seemed to get why this was important.

...Among the students I met, one 17-year-old has a child. Another 17-year-old has a brother in prison for murder. Another is all too familiar with the topicof this year's trial case, which involves shaken baby syndrome, because his young cousin died after being shaken.
Here's something else to look at with these kids according to another coordinator who has since taken over their class...

"This is huge at a school that has attendance problems," said Katie Thaden, who had worked in collaboration with Mr. So-and-so. "These students have shown up on time, and they've been eager to participate from the beginning."
This teacher should be proud. He may not have handled his disgust very well but this teacher did truly care about his students it seems. Hopefully in the future any teacher who chooses to start a blog with regards to their job should be a lot smarter about it.

Cross posted at Illinoize!!!