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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Chicago Tribune: Storied Chicago high school nears last dance

Austin High School is located on Chicago's west side. It's to be closed this year after years of low test scores. Seniors are the only ones who walk thru the hallways these days. In the place of Austin High School will be three smaller schools. From this Tribune article...
Yet Austin's future was anything but. The administration changed frequently in the late 1990s and early 2000s, primarily as a result of poor school performance.

By May of 2004, during Scott's first year as principal, the faculty was informed by Chicago Public Schools officials that the Austin High would be phased out.

"I was told that I would not be taking any freshmen," Scott said. "I thought I had an opportunity to change the school, but that changed. The community was in a short uproar."

Austin along with Calumet Career Prep Academy High School and Westinghouse Career Academy High School are being phased out this year. Austin is being transformed into smaller schools, including the Austin Business and Entrepreneurship Academy, which is already open, and Austin Polytechnical Academy, which will begin classes in the fall. The small schools concept, part of Mayor Richard M. Daley's Renaissance 2010 project to replace older schools with new innovative ones, promises to relieve overcrowding and provide different educational options for the district's children.

'Opportunity' on horizon

While the school's closing is a sad note for many, Diondai Brown, president of the Austin High School Alumni Association, sees it as the next step for the community's children.

"I think it's an opportunity," Brown said. "When one door closes, another one opens. We need to try to give support to the students who are there."

Scott partially blames the lack of stability the students had in school for the disappointing test scores. But the tough neighborhood surrounding the school didn't help, he added.

"They have a lot of competition from the streets," he said, referring to gang violence.

But neighborhood troubles will fade into the past as the seniors gather for the last prom on Friday. The prom committee selected as the theme "Make It Last Forever."

Although the seniors are excited about their last high-school rituals, they are saddened too. .

"This is it, the final chapter," senior Adriane Reed said glumly as a friend signed her shirt recently. "No more Austin."
There are a lot of material in this story. Even a great history lesson about the racial turnover at Austin High and the west side in general. Even Austin High's history as a suburban school before this neighborhood was annexed into Chicago.

Some HBCU's need to get in on this action...

Whenever I'm at school I would see Georgia license plates with Morehouse College or Spelman College on them, I wondered if I could have such a plate from Illinois. It looks more likely that it will, although I don't know how many Morehouse alumni lives in Illinois. I found this story in the Capitol Fax Morning Shorts from Pantagraph.com...
The Illinois Legislature has approved a bill to allow a handful of private out-of-state colleges to sponsor Illinois specialty license plates to raise money for Illinois student scholarships to their schools.

The measure, which won final passage in the Illinois Senate Wednesday, is limited to private out-of-state schools with at least 10,000 alumni living in Illinois. Supporters say those criteria are met by perhaps 10 universities in the nation.

“The only ones we’re sure of are St. Louis University, Notre Dame (in Indiana), and Marquette (in Wisconsin),” said Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, a sponsor of the legislation.

The bill passed the Senate 37-18, over objections of some who questioned whether Illinois license plates should be promoting out-of-state schools.

Link countered: “If they’re going to help an Illinois resident get a scholarship to go to that university, God bless them.”

If Gov. Rod Blagojevich signs the measure into law, those colleges would be able to sponsor Illinois specialty license plates with their school logos on them, for sale to Illinois drivers.

The specialty-plate fee a first-time $118 payment and $105 a year after that, compared to the regular $78 annual license registration fee in Illinois would be used to provide scholarships to Illinois students to attend those sponsoring schools.
If you wanna know this article lists this bill as SB169.

Nike outlet opens in the Chatham neighborhood...

I saw this news on Channel 5 and also online at Channel 2.

If you don't already know and are too lazy to see on this blog, Chatham is a stable mostly black middle class neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. This Nike store is located in a shopping center that already contains Target, Radio Shack, Walgreen's, and a Game Stop. What's even better is that there is a locally owned neighborhood bank across the street too.

You know Nike wants to be a good corporate citizen and was said to be utilizing a local bank. This is no doubt a good thing for the community. And honestly there were rumors of Nike coming to the neighborhood for a while.

Of course, since young black men and women love some sneakers. It's often that I would see some youths wearing a pair of Air Jordans, it's great to know that Nike is not only going to be selling sneakers but bringing to the neighborhood 50 jobs and seeking to be a good corporate citizen. Welcome to the neighborhood Nike.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Capitol Fax: Question of the Day

A lot of good thoughts as to whether Illinoisians should vote on having a constitutional convention over at The Capitol Fax. Many of the commentors stole my answers to what should be considered at another constitutional convention. Here's what prompted it and I will agree...
Next year, voters will get the chance to cast their ballots for or against calling a state constitutional convention.

I usually don’t express my opinion on QOTDs, but I’m heavily leaning towards the idea. Unless you’re a fan of gridlock, the system sure appears to be broken. It’s too easily dominated by powerful players with axes to grind. Individual legislators have few, if any, rights, and they too easily give up whatever they have. The list goes on and on.
If you want to chime in please do.

Dolton casino would be winner for Shaws

The Shaws have been a frequent topic of discussion over time. These two brothers from Arkansas have a rather colorful history. They were players in Chicago until they moved with other blacks to the south suburbs.

One became Mayor of Dolton while holding a seat in the Illinois state senate (a seat he would lose to Rev. James Meeks). The other held a seat on the Cook County Board of Review (he would lose that to an ally of Jesse Jackson Jr.). They've attempted to find a Jesse Jackson to run against Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. It can get colorful.

So where am I going with this? Well Carol Marin talks about how a casino in the mostly stable middle class suburb of Dolton, Illinois could be of benefit to the Shaws. So let's take a look, shall we...

As Illinois legislators work this week to pass a gigantic new gambling -- sorry -- gaming bill, I am gripped by a fearful vision. I imagine that despotic duo, the Shaw brothers, gleefully cutting the ribbon on a new Dolton casino -- a civic nightmare that could actually become reality. The proposed legislation provides for four new casino licenses, one of which would be for the south suburbs, specifically designated to be within "eight miles from the Indiana border." Again, I am haunted by the specter of the Shaws, two-armed bandits, overseeing the one-armed variety.
...
I've never had any luck dialing the Village of Dolton. Mayor Bill Shaw, 70, is never in. Nor is his twin brother, Bob. Bob Shaw is the inspector general of Dolton, appointed by Bill to a $70,000-a-year corruption-busting post. Bob's mandate: to fearlessly investigate wrongdoing anywhere he finds it, with two notable exceptions: the executive and legislative branches of village government, where he and Bill get their paychecks, village cars and expense accounts.

The only thing about the Shaws to be grateful for, I suppose, is that their mother had twins, not triplets. These two have wreaked enough havoc on the notion of good government in 50 years of elective and appointed office.

That includes a civil racketeering suit against the village, convicted felons getting honorary police badges, and the testimony of a convicted drug smuggler in federal court saying he paid Mayor Shaw $30,000 to join the force.

In recent years, voters have gotten restless. Bob was deposed as alderman of Chicago's 9th Ward, dumped as a commissioner of the Cook County Board of Review (but not before voting to reduce his brother's property taxes), and defeated in a run for mayor of South Holland. Bill, meanwhile, only narrowly won a third term as Dolton mayor a couple of years ago after being clobbered by state Sen. James Meeks, who ejected him from his legislative seat in 2002.
So she wonders why we should care if the Shaws get their hands on the cash windfall of a south suburban casino on the Little Calumet River. Well think of it this way, we're still in Illinois...

And the Shaws still have powerful friends in high places, not the least of whom is Senate President Emil Jones, an ardent fan of gaming, a 30-year friend of the twins, and a ferocious supporter of a south suburban casino location.

There is plenty of concern down in Springfield that the Brothers Shaw might be holding a fistful of aces on this deal.

Meeks, no fan of gambling and no friend of Bill and Bob, said he put the question of a Dolton casino directly to the Senate president. Meeks, by phone Tuesday, said that Jones told him, "This would not be a Dolton boat." Was that assurance enough for Meeks that a riverboat is not going to Dolton? "I am not convinced it's not," was the senator's grim response.

He's not alone. That's why it's more important than ever that Illinois thoroughly investigate any and all bidders, businesses and potential casino locations before handing anybody one of these four licenses.

The job of that investigation falls to the Illinois Gaming Board. But guess what? While the casino license bill has been put on a faster track down in Springfield, a separate, urgent piece of gaming reform legislation has been deader than a doornail. That's the bill that would make the Illinois Gaming Board independent of state government, which it currently is not, and would beef up its budget and staff. In recent years, the number of its investigators dropped from 15 to nine.

Today, its staff is too tiny, its budget too small, and its ability to be independent too shackled by the state bureaucracy that willfully impedes its work. In the pay-to-play universe of Illinois politics, that's frightening.

If we don't want a casino in Dolton, and trust me, we don't, then lawmakers better make sure the Illinois Gaming Board gets what it needs. If it doesn't, then lawmakers should cash in this big casino bill and give up the game.
Hmmm I wonder how Nevada's or New Jersey's gaming oversight operates. I hope their indenpendent because if we're trying to use gambling for more governmental revenues then we need to take a page out of their books.

Related Posts
Shaw twins robbing Dolton taxpayers
South Suburban politics...

I went to a community meeting Tuesday evening

An important topic of discussion was the electric rates that were debated earlier this year. A very animated representative from ComEd dropped by my community to talk about ComEd's programs. He spent the better part of an hour taking the brunt of the frustration of the handful of people who bothered to attend this meeting.

This rep continued to state emphatically that ComEd must buy the power high but sell it low. I suppose that was what the rate freeze was supposed to do. This rep mentioned that the rate freeze lasted about nine years. Now ComEd doesn't want a rate freeze saying that will cause problems.

I'll get into what this rep attempted to present as far a programs for those who are affected by the rate increases later on. It's funny that this went on because well electric rates aren't really the big news right now. It's the budget battle in Springfield.

Well the big players in Springfield and that includes the leaders of the Illinois House and Senate as well as the Governor of Illinois can't seem to compromise on this budget. Not just whether or not to freeze electric rates. I found something at this meeting I didn't expect to see. I think I'll show that to you later as well.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Chicago Transit Authority worst case scenario...

This was just reported from Crain's. CTA president Ron Huberman's options that he didn't choose...
Last week, Mr. Huberman laid out his recommendation to raise peak fares to $3.25 a trip and cut service on 63 bus lines in the first week of September if legislators in Springfield don’t come through with the money. The recommendation also includes deferring $57 million in capital spending, which would primarily cover maintenance on the agency’s aging bus and rail fleets.

“It is the most responsible way we could work the numbers” while minimizing impact on riders, he said.

Tuesday at a CTA board meeting, Mr. Huberman detailed other scenarios the CTA considered before making that recommendation. One called for raising peak fares to $7 per ride. Another suspended all service on the Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple and Yellow lines, plus 107 bus routes. If the CTA were to do nothing, it would have to suspend all service and lay off its nearly 11,000 employees in October, Mr. Huberman said.

Mr. Huberman said he and CTA Chairman Carole Brown were leaving after the meeting for Springfield to continue lobbying lawmakers. Asked to name legislators advocating for the CTA, Ms. Brown sidestepped the question.

Mr. Huberman said during the meeting that his announcement last week of the CTA’s contingency plan was not a ploy to pressure the General Assembly into loosening its purse strings.

“Let me be very clear: This is not the case,” he said.

The CTA will hold a series of public meetings on Mr. Huberman’s proposal beginning June 5. The agency’s board is expected to vote on it June 13.

You know if that last option is the most likely then the people at What the Helen?! probably has the right idea.

Stroger opens door to property tax increase

Before I went to bed last night, I posted a negative column from Carol Marin about Cook County Board President Todd Stroger. For those of you who believe and expect politicians to make and keep their promises, I got an article just for you. And after that hope that Springfield will pass a tax swap...
Breaking with his father's avoidance of property tax increases and his own campaign promise not to impose them, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger made it clear over the weekend that he thinks a property tax hike is one way to balance the 2008 county budget.

Stroger made the comment in an interview that aired on "Fox Chicago Sunday." In response to a question by hosts Dane Placko and Jack Conaty about how he planned to balance the budget, Stroger replied, "For years, we haven't taken any of the natural growth [in property values]. We should go to the next level that we can."
...
Commissioner Forrest Claypool, a frequent Stroger critic, said asking taxpayers to bear a property tax increase now, on the heels of several mini-scandals involving county officials, shows Stroger is "tone-deaf" and "arrogant."

"Todd Stroger needs to get his priorities straight, and he's shown that his priority is protecting the bloated patronage system and the county system full of six-figure salaries for his friends and relatives and cronies," Claypool said Monday.
...
"Now he's saying, 'I want to raise property taxes on people.' . . . The president is certainly tone-deaf to be talking about raising property taxes," Claypool said.
Stroger acknowledged problems with some county officials in the Fox interview, responding to a question about "incompetence" among some of the county hospital hires made under his father: "That may not be too strong a word. ... In some instances you could say that."

Last year's Cook County tax levy was $720.5 million, marking the eighth consecutive year at that level.

Cook County residents, particularly in areas undergoing rapid increases in property values, already are bracing for a hit if the state Legislature fails to reinstate the 7 percent tax cap put in place three years ago. That cap is set to expire this year.

Marv Rubin, a resident of Norwood Park on the city's Northwest Side, said he met with about 100 neighbors, many of them seniors, on Monday morning and encouraged them to contact their state legislators in the waning days of the session to urge them to support an extension of the cap.

Without the cap, some longtime residents will be forced out of their homes, Rubin said.

As for Stroger's suggestion that county property taxes might go up, Rubin said, "He's doing everything backward as far as we're concerned. The bottom line is he can find jobs for all his friends and he's telling us he needs money. It's ridiculous."


He seems to be getting hammered lately. Check out this editorial from the Sun-Times.

Hmmm, I think that the Todd Stroger blog needs an update.

As a leader, Stroger can't hack it

Before I go to bed tonight, Carol Marin talks about Todd Stroger. He's been County Board President since December and ever since he's had to deal with a budget crisis at the county there's been nothing but bellyaching. First he had to consider cutting county police officers, hospital staff (doctors and nurses), even cutting hospital services. His other cuts are still causing belly aching.

I've always stated how I couldn't stand how things went into motion to get him elected. His ally Bill Beavers could suffer because of it. And I can say that he has suffered since he couldn't keep the 7th ward alderman's seat in the family.

So what does Carol Marin have to say about President Stroger...
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger announced Friday that his boyhood friend, cousin and college classmate, Ima Hack, has been appointed to the $150,000-a-year post as liaison to the 8th Ward. ''The 8th Ward is Todd Stroger's home base and therefore the beating heart of Cook County," read the press release from the president's office.
Stroger didn't make the announcement himself. His press liaison delivered the Hack news after receiving it from Stroger's new communications director, who first cleared it with the county's new liaison for protocol. This, of course, should not be confused with the protocol officer, another 8th Ward hanger-on, who it is believed, actually spoke to the County Board president.

A Stroger aide said the president would discuss the new county hire this weekend as he makes the rounds of Sunday services. That aide is Chinta Strausberg, the county's $95,000-a-year liaison to churches.

You say you didn't know the county had a liaison to churches? Happily, that is the only thing that is true in this tale thus far. But it's the gospel truth.

As Sun-Times reporters Steve Patterson and Eric Herman outlined on Thursday, Stroger has done it again. In the midst of a wrenching county fiscal crisis in which doctors, nurses, prosecutors and public defenders have been laid off and medical clinics closed, the County Board president keeps finding creative new ways to play with the payroll. A payroll that he generously pads with six-figure salaries for relatives, cronies and pals.

Though he reportedly wanted to dump Strausberg, who worked for Todd's dad, former County Board President John Stroger, she had too much clout to be cut loose. So Strausberg, who was the $110,000 county communications director who hardly ever communicated with anybody, still has a hefty if somewhat reduced salary, a big office and a new "liaison to churches" title. Whatever the heck that is.

Doesn't it seem like only yesterday that Strausberg was trying to bamboozle voters into believing John Stroger would recover from his pre-primary stroke to campaign in the 2006 general election? Instead, thanks to the cunning of county ward bosses, his alderman son inherited the keys to the kingdom. Loyal politicos gathered round to endorse him. Illinois senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama, a reformer if ever there was one, jumped on Todd's bandwagon, as did Sen. Dick Durbin and Mayor Daley.

What an enduringly proud moment for the Cook County Democratic Party.

We haven't really heard from those guys lately about Todd's performance or the Todd Squad that surrounds him since the election. Like his $142,820 chief financial officer-cousin, his $116,000 purchasing agent and best friend's wife, his $141,725 human resources director friend, and his $310,000 dad's doctor and hospital chief. All that bounty over at county, while poor women can't get appointments for mammograms.

The latest insult comes in the hiring of attorney Richard Velazquez. He has had a law license for exactly four years now and was hired to work in the public defender's office where, lord knows, they need him because 13 have been laid off and dozens more have been forced to take unpaid leave. But Velazquez? The politically connected young attorney has been specially assigned as Stroger's new personal legal eagle. Salary: $108,000 a year. What explains this budget bait-and-switch, according to Lance Tyson, Stroger's $162,000 chief of staff, is "we're not sure we're getting zealous representation" from the Cook County state's attorney's office, headed by Dick Devine, who also endorsed Stroger, an ally now turned foe thanks to the budget slashing of his prosecutors.

All of this has some independent-minded county commissioners outraged. "I think this is a hijacking of the county budget," said Commissioner Mike Quigley (D-Chicago).

Stroger made at least $20 million in budget changes without consulting the board. And Velazquez, Stroger's highly paid neophyte lawyer, offering no supporting evidence whatsoever, declared it legal, defending the president -- not the indigent.

Do you think that the Stroger administration will have a lot to answer for in 2008 or at least turn their fortunes around?

Good night.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Sad Memorial Day in the NFL...

FOXNews has just reported that New England Patriots player Marquisse Hill's body has been found in Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana. He was jet skiing there and the current took him away. Very unfortunate.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Remember the 60 Minutes story on how blacks view snitching...

I think it aired sometime in April. If Ed Bradley was still alive I would believe that it would have been his story. That's not to say only blacks can do a story on this.

A rapper (gangsta' rapper) has as part of his act a no snitching message. I don't recall his name sadly, but I do remember that the 60 Minutes journalist asked if he would alert the police to a serial killer next door. His response was that he would just move.

We saw some impressionable teens talking about not snitching to the police. So they're being influenced by it sadly. What could be nothing more than a stage act or gimmick is turning into a real truth. And the result could be that criminals may get away with a lot if law-abiding citizens refuse to cooperate with police.

This is not to say I believe entertainment can cause violence or any other "anti-social" messages (I use anti-social for a lack of a better term), but I think mass media can provide good messages instead of the negative. If you want negative and "anti-social" messages in media make sure the more impressionable don't get wind of it, keep it for the older people who do understand that this is not acceptable. It's idealistic though, children will find their way into so much crap over time.

So this brings me to a Mary Mitchell column from May 22nd. She talks about this phenomena of no snitching...
More important, there's a misguided notion among black youth that it's not cool to "snitch" -- as if there is really such a thing as honor among criminals.

But here's the really sad part:

"No-Snitch" didn't start out as a plea for black youth to protect carjackers, rapists and murderers.

"No-Snitch" is a response to the prosecutors' practice of locking up low-level workers in the drug trade and leaning on them to give up somebody in order to avoid long mandatory sentences.

It doesn't seem to matter that these workers have about as much information about the drug kingpins' operations, as say, reporters had about how Conrad Black was allegedly stealing millions from Chicago Sun-Times' shareholders.

Obviously, when suspects are facing decades in prison on drug conspiracy charges, they will tell prosecutors anything they want to hear.

Cooperating with police to put heartless criminals behind bars isn't snitching. But too many people are giving cover to murderers, rapists and carjackers because they don't understand the difference.

Frankly, if former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Hyde Park had been mugged in a different neighborhood, police would probably still be looking for the suspect. Thankfully, two students from the University of Chicago heard Braun's screams. One of them called 911. The other chased the attacker.

Joseph A. Dixon was charged in the case. He was apprehended after he was arrested allegedly trying to rob the tip jar at a fast-food restaurant in Hyde Park.

But who killed 14-year-old Tashima Nero Smith?

Last week, the teen was found in an abandoned building at 829 N. Homan Ave. Tashima's guardian had reported her missing two days earlier.

Who beat 13-year-old Lazarus Jones to death with a baseball bat near his Albany Park home Feb. 19?

Who shot and killed Donta Martell Seals Banks near Karlov Avenue and Division Street Oct. 26, 2002?

And there are plenty of other examples.

Last week, Blair Holt's short life was honored because he died a hero trying to protect someone else.

Helping to get a pair of armed carjackers off the street would be a similar act of heroism.
If you want to look at this as a phenomenon of black culture, this surely has to be a low point. It's been years since I've been in high school, but I've heard a lot about what youth had valued in my day. It's almost sad.

I remember in the 8th grade I heard about how you were white for doing well in school, making the grade. Almost like to be black you had to dumb yourself down. Not cool but that was a value probably instilled by someone who didn't care about school and didn't want everyone else to value an education.

Others might be taken in by the culture of the street. One thankfully I never got to know. It's where swagger and street cred rule more than anything else. I can imagine that in some neighborhood, young children are forced to grow up fast, they skip a step.

I think it can be agreed that a lot of people want safer neighborhood. I'm glad to watch Chicago Crime Watch to see that in many neighborhoods people are active in taking a stand against criminals. One thing that needs to be done is to encourage our young people to cooperate with police and drop this no snitching act.

Memorial Day closings

Here's another day to celebrate our veterans and there service to our country in the various campaigns of the United States. From the Chicago Tribune here are some closings...
Monday, May 28, is Memorial Day. The following public services will be affected:

Schools : Chicago public schools will be closed. Most suburban and parochial schools also will be closed. Check with local school district offices.

Government offices: Federal, state, county and city offices will be closed.

Postal service: No mail service except Express Mail.

Courts: Federal and state courts will be closed. County courts will be closed, except for Cook County Central Bond Court.

Banks: Major banks will be closed.

Financial markets: Will be closed. Chicago Board of Trade will resume electronic trading Monday evening.

Parking: Meters do not need to be fed.

T ransit: CTA and Metra will run on Sunday schedules. Pace will operate only major routes, which will run on Sunday schedules.

Waste pickup: Trash normally collected on Mondays will be picked up on Tuesday.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Lem's BBQ

This weekend I paid a visit to Lem's on 75th. I've had other BBQ over the years particularly Robinson's. I would go to their location at Union Station (indeed whenever I would take the Amtrak from there I'd get a rib tip dinner there), still nothing can beat a small tip from Lem's BBQ.

I took this picture on my phone while I was waiting to place my order. It's a cramped place and it slowly thinned out before I got my order. You know I should tell you something.

You may have seen this establishment in the Tribune in recent weeks. There was a clipping right on the partition from the Tribune. There was a picture of the place and a picture of the owner, James Lemons. I've found other things just looking around on the internet.

There have been sites where many people have chronicled their visits to Lem's BBQ at 75th and even another location near 58th and State (almost next to the Englewood line L tracks). I mentioned that Lem's was in the Tribune earlier this month. And I wish that article was still free.

Not too far behind me were a couple of white guys. Not to be racist, but for whatever reason I'm still amazed that they will find their way into black neighborhoods. It's not a problem though they're paying for a quality product and patronizing a black owned business.

This place is worth a visit if you like BBQ and you're on the south side of town. I haven't decided if I'm going to have a good cookout for Memorial Day, but if nothing else I can consider this my Memorial Day BBQ.

Julian students' call to action

Last week we saw the funeral for Percy L. Julian High School junior Blair Holt. This week Julian students are making strides to end the violence. From the Chicago Tribune...

Two weeks after their classmate was shot to death on a CTA bus, a group of 25 Julian High students gathered on Friday with CeaseFire, a group that tries to defuse gang violence.

CeaseFire members invited Julian High student leaders to discuss with them what they think the organization can do to stop the violence that killed Blair Holt and 27 other Chicago Public Schools students this year.

Many questioned why it took Holt's death to prompt CeaseFire and prominent clergy to pay attention to the problems they encounter daily.

"We can talk all day until we're blue," a Julian student said, "and it's still just talking."

Tio Hardiman, director of mediation for CeaseFire, said he understands their frustration. But he assured them that CeaseFire members are determined to be a presence in the neighborhoods around Julian. Students can call the CeaseFire hot line and anonymously report on gun and gang activity in their neighborhood without fear of being discovered, Hardiman said.

"You don't have to stop the violence," Hardiman said. "You just have to spread the word that we're here."

One student questioned how he could ask a friend to stop selling drugs when the friend uses his money to pay the rent and buy food for his family. Others said that Julian students need safe, fun activities that would give them another option to hanging on the street.

The CeaseFire members said they understand the reasons for the violence are complex. They promised the students they would return over the next six months and brainstorm long-term solutions.

"You can pour all the money you want into the CPS but if the problem is outside of the school in the community, then it will continue to spill over into the school," Hardiman said.

I was just looking at a Russ Stewart column right now

I want to note something, and I think it's a bold prediction...
7th Ward (South Chicago): Bill Beavers, who has been a committeeman since 1984, was an alderman from 1983 to 2006. When he resigned to become a county commissioner, Daley appointed his daughter, Darcel, as alderman. But she lost big to Sandi Jackson, the wife of U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., by a margin of 6,462-3,703. Expect Beavers to lose for committeeman in 2008 and for commissioner in 2010.
I think I can possibly see Beavers defeated for 7th Ward Democratic Committeeman, but he loses his commissioner's seat. I wonder what's Stewart's justification for it. I get the idea that people don't care about the Cook County Board of Commissioners enough to want to get ride of Beavers.

It's a long shot, but who knows people might still be upset at him for his role in installing Todd Stroger as a replacement on the ballot for his father John Stroger. I wonder if voter have long memories. Indeed last year during the time they was negotiating how to get Stroger to replace his father, there was a lot of cynical ideas going about.

Hmmm, if Stewart's prediction is going to be true this can only mean that the Beavers machine is falling hard and quickly.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Do You Know Your State Capitols?

You Really Know Your State Capitols

You Got 19 State Capitols Correct

You're either a geography buff... or you have an excellent memory.

Glover & Venezuela's Chávez

I really wish that Danny Glover could have done better in his choices of partners for such a worthwhile partner in making a movie about Haitian leader Toussaint L'Overture. L'Overture beat back French control of Haiti in the early 19th century. I have know Glover's affinities for another Latin American dictator Fidel Castro.

Anyway here's a little bit of commentary from Afro-Netizen...

Case in point: actor/progressive activist, Danny Glover, has just inked an $18-million deal with Venezuela's new Villa del Cine, a state-owned movie studio, to produce a feature film on Toussaint L'Ouverture, the father of the New World's first Black republic, Haiti. Kudos, Brother Glover!

This is not the first time Glover has worked with Venezuela and its internationally popular president, Hugo Chávez.

I have no beef with this union. In fact, I think it's a good thing. However, it is sad that a respected actor such as Glover cannot raise a measly $18mm (by Hollywood standards, anyway) for a Black, 18th-century version of 'Braveheart' which his old 'Lethal Weapon' sidekick, Mel Gibson, could raise (even post-anti-Jewish rant) by close of business today.

It's a testament to the general public's appetite for all things Black and non-stereotypical. Or perhaps, more accurately, it's indicative of how Hollywood and Madison Avenue grossly underestimate the general public's interest in all things Black and non-stereotypical. Remember 'Roots', anyone?

30 years ago it was aired (before sweeps) as America's first prime-time (unintended) mini-series because the white TV executives didn't think it'd last as a regular weekly TV series. 30 years later, it still remains the most watched mini-series in American television history.

I suspect much of the problem (besides good old-fashion racism qua industry myopia) is that the folks best able to market substantive Black-themed movies, etc. are rarely the ones doing it.

Put such marketing in the right hands (how about qualified, experienced and creative folks who just happen to be Black, for instance) and with a sufficient budget, and I'm certain things would look much better at the box office for past and future movie projects.

(Granted, these folks aren't magicians. So, don't go thinking they could've made 'Soul Plane' worth watching.)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

CTA lays out el, bus cuts; moves to hike fares

The rumbling has been there so let's put it out there. CTA may have to make some cuts in order to continue operating. The last time this happened, the state of Illinois bailed the CTA out. The way things are looking in Springfield, I would be surprised if the CTA got the money they needed.

This story is from Crain's...
Under the proposal unveiled by newly installed CTA President Ron Huberman, single-ride fares would leap to as much as $3.25 a trip during rush hours, and the cost of a monthly pass would rise 63% to $122. Service on 63 bus lines — those which currently do not operate on Sundays — would be suspended, as would the Skokie Swift and Evanston Express trains.

Draconian as those measures are, they could have been worse. Mr. Huberman’s plan proposes to fill half of a $110-million hole in the CTA’s 2007 budget by shifting $56.9 million from maintenance on buses and el train cars to operations, an expedient he conceded could not continue long.

Mr. Huberman said the cuts and fare hikes will have to be implemented around mid-September unless the Illinois General Assembly approves one of several pending plans to boost aid to the CTA, Metra and Pace. Absent those plans or a legislative bailout, the CTA “would be out of business in October, unable to make payroll,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Regional Transportation Authority on Thursday proposed to solve the crisis by authorizing new taxes that would raise $400 million a year. Included would be a quarter-cent sales tax in the six-county RTA region and a 0.3% real estate transfer tax in Chicago.

Mr. Huberman, who succeeded Frank Kruesi as CTA boss just a month ago, termed his proposal “painful” but says the CTA has little room to maneuver, given that it now is nearly halfway into its budget year and was counting on an additional $110 million in public aid this year.

“After careful analysis, I am recommending the approach I believe most fairly distributes the impact on our customers,” Mr. Huberman said. “Of all the options available to us, this plan puts the least direct burden on our riders.”

Hmmm perhaps those of us rides on public transit needs to get on our leaders about getting the state to bail out the CTA. Hopefully at the same time CTA will manage it's money better.

Attorneys argue for Gov. Ryan to keep pension after conviction

So the disgraced former governor of Illinois wants to retain his pension. Last year he was convicted in federal court of mail fraud, money laundering, extortion, obstruction of justice and bribery during his time as Secretary of State and Governor during the years of 1991 to 2003. George Ryan is currently free on an appeal bond as he seeks to appeal his conviction to a six year sentence in federal prison.

Anyway here's a little snippet from the Chicago Tribune...

Attorneys for Ryan, who filed a lawsuit to keep his pension in December, argued at a Wednesday hearing that the former governor should be allowed to keep his state pension earned during 24 years as a county board member, state representative and lieutenant governor.

Attorneys said Ryan was not accused of crimes in those years.

State retirement officials argued that Ryan must forfeit all pension benefits because the corruption occurred while he was a state employee.

Ryan was sentenced to 6{ years in prison in September for mail fraud, money laundering, extortion, obstruction of justice and bribery during his time as secretary of state and governor, from 1991 to 2003.

In November, the General Assembly Retirement System board vote unanimously to take away Ryan's entire $197,000 annual pension, ruling that his conviction wiped out benefits built up from a 35-year career in public office.

Ray Mitchell, one of Ryan's attorneys, said Wednesday that unless the court steps in, "his family, his wife ... will be left with nothing," the Chicago Tribune reported its Web site.

Assistant Attorney General Ronald Rascia, representing the state retirement system, said giving Ryan his pension would set a bad precedent. He said corrupt state officials would be able to protect pensions by changing jobs often, knowing only their current position is at risk.

"Don't take the teeth out of (the state pension) statute, your honor," Rascia said at the hearing.

Cook County Circuit Judge Martin Agran is expected to rule next month.
In the last gubernatorial campaign in Illinois an issue that has come up often was the pensions. Pensions I believe of those employed in the service of Illinois. Now Ryan wants the pension he could have kept by not engaging in his corrupt practice.

I don't know if he's gonna pull this one off. At least not without proving that he's actually innocent of those charges against him. Then again I was somewhat amazed that Governor Ryan was convicted in federal court.

Amtrak sidetracked...

When I saw this article earlier this week I wanted to comment on it.

I consider myself an Amtrak supporter. I took the train to Texas on Saturday and I experienced many of the delays that caused us to arrive at our destination about three hours late. I was ready to get to our destination because I was tired of riding already.

First an equipment problem kept our train from leaving Union Station for an hour. There wasn't an announcement until maybe a half hour in. You know this was the first time I heard about delays on the airlines that could last hours where passengers were forced to sit on board their planes without being allowed to get off for a second. I heard that an ATA plane sat for 10 hours keeping their passengers on board. That's very unacceptable.

Next, we kept running into freight trains and unusual signals. You know on a train back from DC our train attendant told us that we may not be on-time but we got back safely. Engineers in the locomotive can't just pass up a signal even if there are no reasons for it.

As for freight trains. Well I learned on my first trip to California two years ago that on many rail lines freight trains have precedence. That means that if a freight train approaches a passenger train has to move over and let the freighter by and then the passenger train can go forward.

We were waiting in the Texas country for the better part of an hour because of a "freight problem". At this point I was restless. I wonder what was this "freight problem". Was it that this train broke down at the wrong moment. Who knows?

Well the aforementioned article from the Chicago Tribune mentions that Amtrak has ridership gains in Illinois but they will face some of the issues that I faced on the way to Texas. It's mostly the condition of the tracks but it's also cooperation with the freight railroads. Amtrak personnel doesn't always know what they will face as they move forward to insure their trains run on time.

So if you're an Amtrak supporter read this article and sound off about the state of affairs of passenger rail.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Jesse Jackson III Segways to Daycare

His mother was recently sworn in as the 7th Ward Alderman. She knocked off the daughter of a machine politician who wanted to keep that aldermanship in the family back in February. Anyway Jesse the third was in the newspapers in time for his mother's inauguration...

That's how much 3-year-old Jesse Jackson III -- known to his parents as "Tre" (pronouned Tray) -- appeared to enjoy the ceremony that saw his mom, Sandi Jackson, sworn in as 7th Ward alderman.

When Sandi Jackson entered the City Council chambers as her name was called, she gave a thumbs up to Tre and his sister, Jessica, 7.

Tre and Jessica then sat on either side of their father, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), as Sandi Jackson took the oath of office. When it was over Sandi Jackson turned around and gave the kids and her husband giant hugs. Tre was smiling from ear to ear.

Tre and Jessica are finishing out the school year in Washington, D.C., before transferring to still unidentified schools in Chicago, where their mom plans to be a full-time alderman.

But Monday was not a school day. It was a day to celebrate. "They're very excited. ... They're very proud of their mother," said an aide to Sandi Jackson.
He's even in the Washington Post...
It's a good thing the National Transportation Safety Board doesn't know about this.

Two Sleuth spies tell us they were having breakfast at the venerable Capitol Hill dive Tune Inn one morning last week and did double takes when they saw Rep. Jesse Jackson (D-Ill.) whiz past them riding a Segway down the sidewalk with his toddler-sized son.

Our spies, who remain unnamed as they are regular informants in the Sleuth protection program, walked out onto the sidewalk to get a better view of the spectacle. They said Jackson's son rode in front, and started whining at one point when his dad playfully drove the two-wheeled electric upright scooter to the front door of the Hawk & Dove restaurant next door.

Turns out, little Jackson - Jesse Jackson III, who goes by the name "Tre" - was intent on getting to daycare and apparently had little interest in pressing the flesh with the breakfast crowd along Pennsylvania Ave. on Capitol Hill. (He'll have plenty of time for that later in life, though the adorable 4-year-old already seems plenty comfortable on the House floor, where he's been spotted with his dad on a number of occasions.)

"The Congressman had to take Tre to daycare," Jackson's spokesman, Kenneth Edmonds, told us. "That's his primary mode of transportation."

Good thing Tre made it to the school yard without injury. Neither he nor his daddy were wearing helmets.

And we can't say we're too confident Rep. Jackson wears his helmet all the other times he rides his Segway around Capitol Hill, from his official congressional office to his fundraising office, and even - on rare occasions - to and from work, a several-miles-long ride along busy streets between the Hill and the congressman's home in Dupont Circle.
These are all sweet stories about political parents and their children. That's how I would like to look at it after all.

More on the Illinois Service Federal bank robbery yesterday...

I would just post this in the original post from yesterday afternoon, but I think this Tribune story warrants it's own post. Just look at how serious and out of control these criminals were...
Teller Allan Tooles was in the middle of cashing a customer's check when three masked men stormed into the South Side bank Tuesday, screaming words he couldn't make out.

One of the robbers leapt over the counter and forced co-worker Tramaine Gibson at gunpoint to the vault, but Gibson didn't have the combination, Tooles believes. Gibson, who had worked at the Illinois Service Federal Savings and Loan branch for six months, was then shot.

Gibson, 23, a married father of two, died later at Mt. Sinai Hospital. A customer and a security guard were also wounded. The FBI and Chicago police launched a manhunt for the three bandits, who escaped after the brazen, morning holdup, one of Chicago's most violent in many years, authorities said.

The robbery at 87th Street and South King Drive was over in about five minutes. The three men escaped in a maroon Oldsmobile with only a small amount of cash, police said.

Two nearby schools were temporarily put on lockdown while police searched the area.

Later Tuesday, police found what they believe to be the getaway car abandoned at 66th Street and Wabash Avenue.
...
One of the armed robbers disarmed a female security guard, police and witnesses said. But a second security guard, Earl Coleman, 53, exchanged gunfire with the robbers, they said. At least 20 shots were fired.

Coleman and a bank customer, Dorothy Sanders, 73, a retired Chicago Public Schools teacher, were shot, authorities said. One robber may also have been wounded.

Coleman was shot in the chest and legs but was "doing good" at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, said the mother of two of his children. Sanders underwent surgery Tuesday, a family member said. Police said both individuals had non-life threatening injuries.

The men rushed into the bank at about 9:30 a.m., all wearing dark clothing, gloves and disguising their faces, authorities said. Because of the disguises, a surveillance video, which is being edited to remove graphic content, hasn't given authorities a much better description of the men, authorities said.

FBI spokesman Frank Bochte said agents are investigating whether the men were also responsible for a similar robbery on May 10 at a nearby Cole Taylor Bank branch. Three people wearing disguises pulled off that robbery, the FBI said.

The violence was all too real for Tooles, 24, who was still shaken Tuesday evening as he recalled hearing the sounds of gunshots, screaming and breaking glass from his hiding place under a table in the cafeteria. When he came out, he found Gibson, who had been working the drive-through, lying face down near the vault, his white shirt soaked with blood.

"He was trying to get up and I grabbed him and whispered to him 'Stay down,' " Tooles said. "I didn't think it was that bad. I said, 'You're going to be OK,' and he was nodding like, 'I know.' "

Tooles said he cried later when he found out his friend had died.

On Tuesday evening, Gibson's family and friends trailed into his parents' home in the Englewood neighborhood.

Verton Gibson Jr., his father, said his son had worked at the bank for three years, though he had been at the 87th Street location for only about six months. Verton said he was proud of what his son had accomplished given the challenges of growing up in a poverty-stricken neighborhood.

"There's a lot of hopelessness here," he said. "We stayed on Tramaine because we knew you could slip through the cracks here in Englewood."

He told of how Tramaine, who was named employee of the month recently, planned to buy his first home.

His father nearly choked up when he recounted how Tramaine would call his mother every day and ask her, "How's the most beautiful woman in the world?"

"We are drawing on our faith right now," he said. "It's just a lot of hurting. Just like that, your whole life is changed."

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What happened the past three days???

I took a trip to Texas this weekend and I got back this afternoon. My brother was getting sworn in as a lawyer in Texas so we went down to see him take his oath in the state capital Austin. I would like to show a few pictures over at The Eye.

In anycase we were at a stadium with his family on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin. This ceremony was presided over by the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Appeals. There were moments which seemed to take too long such as the introduction of the Texas Law School deans and the justice on the Supreme and Appeals courts as well as other prominent attorneys and the top scorers on the Texas bar exam. In additon my brother allowed us to take home a copy of the oath he and those other lawyers took to become an officer of the courts. I'll share that with you here too.

Before I go further the night we arrived in Austin, I had some of the best tacos ever at Pappasito's Cantino. Texas style tacos they were big with lots of lettuce and tomatoes. I had to eat some beans and rice but when I was done with those tacos, I couldn't eat anything else. Before that I had some nice nachos, because our server threw away our nachos he gave us a fresh bag and hopefully we'll use those in the future. These tacos were the real deal, more so than the toacos were at Pepe's. I still thank Pepe's for being the type of tacos that caused me to reject Taco Bell.

Moving forward we left the ceremony to look around the grounds of the Texas state capitol. A reddish structure, with statues of Texas state history especially one statue of Texas' time in the Confederate States of America. There was a memorial to Texas Police Officers and a stone for the military personnel who were Killed and Missing in Action. There was this historic tree on the grounds of the state capitol which was being held up by steel wires. It's still alive but most of the branch are resting on the ground.

Oh yeah I want to mention something. I got a good question for the people of Illinois. I may post this over at Illinoize. This is where I'm coming from.

Texas is known as the "Lone Star State". On many of the expressway overpasses there were either imprints of the state of Texas or the "Lone Star" that Texas is known for. My brother told us that Texas is a very proud state, his wife said that Texans has thier own pledge to their own "Lone Star" flag.

Anyway this is my fourth trip to Texas. The first time we only passed thru. We went thru the panhandle and spent the night in Amarillo. The next trip we spent a night with my brother and his wife who were staying at Houston where my brother was going to law school at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. Unfortunately for me and my mother we didn't get to make it to his graduation, our uncle was the only family that made it. How fitting that we were able to actually make it to his oath as a lawyer.

The second trip was this past Christmas. And that's not a bad time to go, especially since it's cold in Chicago and it's cooler down in Texas. We didn't do much just stayed at his nice home in the Dallas suburbs until it was time to take a train back to Chicago.

This time around Texas was warmer but not steaming. Kind of glad too since I don't want to be around a lot of heat anyway. Still this was an interesting trip to make and it was great to see aspiring hot shot lawyers take their oaths to start their professions.

Anyway that's where I've been stay tuned for photographs!!!

Oh man I just got back home but this story has my attention first...

A bank robbery today at the Illinois Service Federal branch at 87th and King Drive. I saw the report on Channel 2 a few minutes ago. 6th Ward Alderman Freddrenna Lyle was talking tough at a press conference outside this branch letting the crooks know that they're not Queen Latifah and that this is real life. If you don't what what the Alderman is talking about, she's talking about this movie Set It Off with Queen Latifah (before Chicago and Bringing Down the House), Jada Pinkett (before she married Will Smith) and Vivica A. Fox (who was seen in Kill Bill Vol. 1).

Anyway the detail are that there are injuries including to one of the robbers. $100K was stolen from the branch. A security guard was shot and he shot one of the robbers. Also a teller was killed in this exchange. A customer was also injured in this exchange. There were three men who robbed this bank today.

The FBI is going to get involved with $50K reward offered in this case. I will get some stories to be compiled here.

Hopefully I will tell you about what I did the past couple of days or so.

Chicago Sun-Times
Teller dies after South Side bank robbery

CBS2Chicago
1 Killed, 2 Injured After South Side Bank Robbery

Chicago Tribune
Bank heist shooting victim dies

WBBM Newsradio 780AM
3 Shot In South Side Bank Robbery, Teller Dead

Friday, May 18, 2007

Evan Coyne Maloney on C-Span tomorrow

He will be on the weekend edition of Washington Journal for roughly 30 minutes at 9AM Eastern to talk about his film Indoctrinate U. This film is about political correctness at American universities. I want to help support an interesting film and I hope it opens some eyes.

I've talked a lot about Maloney in these parts. He made a name for himself over four years ago documenting anti-war marches in New York and San Francisco. His videos have made it onto FOX News Channel, the Rush Limbaugh program, and even the Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal. And now he's a documentary filmmaker. You can see his videos and other commentaries over at Brain-Terminal.com. You can access it thru the links in the sidebar.

This news of course comes from his website.

I've neglected that fatal CTA bus shooting...

I saw a blurb of a service for Blair Holt on CLTV today. Father Pfleger of St. Sabina was giving an anti gun diatribe. I changed the channel when Rev. Jesse Jackson stepped up to speak.

Blair Holt was only 16 when he died. The son of a Chicago Police Officer and a Chicago Fire captain, he was killed shielding one of his classmates from a bullet. There have been two arrests already thankfully. And this story is typical, all the shooter sought to do was shoot at a gang member who he's had a running feud with. Instead of hitting his target the bullets caused "collateral damage".

A very unfortunate story all around. One of the assailants surrenders in the parking lot of a White Castle and was reportedly suicidal. I don't know about the other guy, but it sounds like a good sign that this individual was at least remorseful about what happened. He must not be the hardened gangster I could have easily believed him to be.

I'm going to compile as many stories I can possibly compile from this story. And I'm going to start with yesterday's column from the Sun-Times Mary Mitchell...

"I think we are starting to get some momentum," said the Rev. Michael Pfleger. "The thing that people can do right now is search their homes. Every parent, grandparent, auntie and uncle have to look for the guns, The gun that was used to kill Blair Holt was not just laying on the street."

A bus driver on CTA Route 103 -- the bus Holt was riding near 103rd and Halsted when he was fatally shot by another 16-year-old -- called me after reading Tuesday's column to apologize for not taking action sooner.

"I've thought about calling, but it got off my mind," she said. "I've watched this gang activity that they are now talking about. I'm willing to join with you to find solutions because this is not going to go away."

Dr. Gloria Jackson Bacon, founder of the renowned Altgeld Health Center, also called. She is already working with a group of parents, but is willing to do even more.

"If we have to call a meeting to figure out what to do and how do we do it, then please include me," she said.

Before Holt's murder, the executive director of Black-on-Black Love Organization had already asked me to co-chair a memorial service for mothers who have lost children to violence. Now, participating in the event is critical.

"We are launching the 'Godmother' program and putting a call out to moms all over the city of Chicago who have lost their kids to violence to let them know they are not alone," said Frances Wright. "We know these moms can speak to young people and appeal to them to stop the violence."

The event takes place on May 28 at 6 p.m., at Liberty Baptist Church, 4849 S. King Dr. Call (773) 978-0868 for more information.

Chicago Sun-Times
Girl visits parents of 'hero'
Bus riders on edge day after shooting
Teen killed on bus acted as shield
Principal IDs alleged CTA gunman
War among blacks is too easy to ignore

Second City Cop
Wrong Actions - Wrong Lessons
Shooter in Custody?
School Shooting - Guess Who's Fault?

CBS2Videos
Teen Slain In Bus Shooting Remembered By Friends, Family
Emotional Prayer Vigil Held For Teen Victim Of CTA Bus Shooting
CTA Bus Shooting Survivor's Emotional Recovery After Friend Saved Her
Teens Accused In Fatal CTA Bus Shooting To Be Tried As Adults
Teen Victim Of CTA Bus Shooting Remembered As A Hero
Students, Parents Shaken After Gunman Opened Fire On CTA Bus
Details Of Deadly Bus Shooting Near South Side High School
Students At Far South Side School On Edge After Bus Shooting
Patrols Increased At 2 Schools After CTA Bus Shooting
Shooting Rampage On CTA Bus Leaves 1 Teen Dead, 4 People Injured
Gunman Shoots 5 People On CTA Bus On Far South Side

Chicago Tribune
Thousands mourn teen ‘hero’ slain on CTA bus

Don't take this as a complete compilation by any means.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Casinos in Chicago...

I was looking at the Capitol Fax Blog just now and there are stories about the possibility of a casino in the city. To be sure this is something I've never been big on. Why does Vegas and Atlantic City have to come closer to those areas without gambling instead of gamblers going to Vegas and Atlantic City?

Anyway gambling is a way to get in some revenue for government check this out...

Sources told CBS 2 Daley signed off on a tentative deal that could, after years of discussion, finally bring a casino to downtown Chicago, as well as to south suburban Cook County, north suburban Lake County and a site still to be determined within 8 miles of O’Hare Airport.

Chicago’s casino would have up to 5,000 positions for slot machines, card and dice games and roulette. City Hall’s tax take could be 20 percent of the anticipated $1 billion plus annual gross, or more than $200 million a year.

Nine existing casino boats would get thousands of new slot machines and other gambling positions. Horse tracks would share millions in new dollars from a so-called impact fee, tentatively 3 percent of gross receipts of all the new gambling.
Last month Illinois lost a politician who was the long time mayor of a Chicago suburb Rosemont. An issue that came up was a casino that just couldn't get off the ground no matter what they tried to do. You know I remember years ago that this proposed casino was to have some minority owners too, two of whom I'm somewhat familiar with (they're involved with a black owned bank). And charges came up that the mob had some influence in this proposed casino.

Still Rosemont might get their casino and if Daley gets his casino. How about some depressed minority communities like Roseland or Englewood or even the west side? Or how about some depressed south suburban city like Harvey, Dixmoor, Robbins, or even Phoenix? Areas like these could use some of this action if gambling is to be this cash cow it's supposed to be.

Look to be sure I read somewhere about proposals to put slot machines in race track. Thinking about it I'd say why not. At least instead of opening more casinos.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has died...

Yolanda King at age 51 news from today's Sun-Times...
King died late Tuesday in Santa Monica, Calif., said Steve Klein, a spokesman for the King Center. The family did not know the cause of death but that relatives think it might have been a heart problem, he said.
Born on Nov. 17, 1955, in Montgomery, Ala., King was just an infant when her home was bombed during the turbulent civil rights era.

As an actress, she appeared in numerous films, including ''Ghosts of Mississippi,'' and even played Rosa Parks in the 1978 miniseries ''King.''

One of her father's close aides in the civil rights movement, the Rev. Joseph Lowery, said Wednesday he was stunned and saddened by the news of King's death.

''Yolanda was lovely. She wore the mantle of princess, and she wore it with dignity and charm,'' Lowery said. ''She was a warm and gentle person and was thoroughly committed to the movement and found her own means of expressing that commitment through drama.''

King -- an actor, speaker and producer -- was the founder and head of Higher Ground Productions, billed as a ''gateway for inner peace, unity and global transformation.'' On her company's Web site, King described her mission as encouraging personal growth and positive social change.

King also was an author and held memberships in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference -- which her father co-founded in 1957 -- and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Her death comes more than a year after the death of her mother, Coretta Scott King.

She was the most visible and outspoken among the Kings' four children during this year's Martin Luther King Day in January, the first since her mother's death. At her father's former Atlanta church, Ebenezer Baptist, she performed a series of solo skits that told stories including a girl's first ride on a desegregated bus and a college student's recollection of the 1963 desegregation of Birmingham, Ala.

She also urged the audience to be a force for peace and love, and to use the King holiday each year to ask tough questions about their own beliefs on prejudice.

''We must keep reaching across the table and, in the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, feed each other,'' King said.

When asked then by The Associated Press how she was dealing with the loss of her mother, King responded: ''I connected with her spirit so strongly. I am in direct contact with her spirit, and that has given me so much peace and so much strength.''
Her two brothers and her baby sister survives her. Arrangements will be announced later.

Jackson: Alderman expense accounts too low

7th Ward Alderman elect Sandi Jackson hasn't even taken the oath yet and she already has a gripe about the benefits of being an alderman...
On Tuesday, the incoming alderman who's expected to be the star of the freshman class complained about having to front expenses that should be covered by her $33,280-a-year aldermanic allowance.

Jackson said she has hastily arranged a fund-raiser for Thursday to raise the $50,000 she contends should be covered by taxpayers.

"I just discovered that, unlike any other governmental entity, the city does not provide aldermen with funds to start up their offices," said Jackson, who will be sworn in Monday. "I think that's awful."

In 1999, aldermen raised their annual expense allowance for the first time in nearly 20 years -- from $23,280 to $33,280.

Since then, aldermen have complained repeatedly about running out of money in mid-year, forcing them to either dip into their political funds, go into their own pockets or go hat in hand to Finance Committee Chairman Edward M. Burke (14th), who controls a contingency fund.
I could look at this as whining, but I can see her point. Especially if an alderman is expected to oversee services to their respective ward. They should have an adequately staffed and furnished office to take care of the needs of their constituents.

The Shield

Oh boy I only regret that I haven't been watching the current season from the beginning. Last season one of the members of the Strike Team, Lem, was killed by his partner Shane by a grenade. A shocking conclusion that I've never had a chance to see at least only in flashbacks.

Shane did this without a clue to his friend Vic Mackey and Ronnie. The first episode of the season I saw tied up some loose ends. First Shane admitted that he killed Lem and Mackey is obviously upset saying that if he doesn't get out of Mackey's sight he will kill him. It appears Shane isn't coming back to the Strike Team. Shane's misdeed from last season was eating him up inside and it came to a head.

This episode dealt with the aftermath. His wife didn't know where Shane was and she came to the barn looking for him. And then mentioned a few magic words and got very uncomfortable with Mackey. Shane and his family makes plans to leave LA although Shane plans to use what he knows about Mackey against him should his former partner ever come after him.

He even went to the wife of an old foe, who used to be a higher up in the LAPD before he was disgraced and murdered in Mexico. He was hoping to get some Mexican money contacts doing this by blackmailing her, exposing the truth to her daughters about what happened to her husband. Mackey is left to clean up that mess at least before he runs into Shane near the end of the episode.

Mackey and Shane are in their respective vehicles when Shane drops an envelope into Mackey's lap with evidence and documentation of the misdeeds of the strike team. Shane says that if anything happens to him, his wife, mailman or anyone close to him that the original copies will be left with Internal Affairs. This surely was enough to give Det. Vic Mackey pause as he is close to being forced out and retired by the LAPD.

Oh man this series is getting deep. From season one to now, Mackey seemed to keep getting very close to his own arrest, trial, and conviction. That would be an awesome end to an awesome series. And this isn't even the last season yet.

Can't wait for next week's episode.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hotline on Call on Jerry Fallwell

A great post over there check them out!!!

UPDATE: Falwell in 'Gravely Serious' Condition

Jerry Falwell is a person I'm sure many of you reading this blog has heard of. This man has been around a long time as a TV evangelist and currently head of his university Liberty University (I say it like that because he founded Liberty in the 1980s). In recent years he's made statements that 9/11 was our punishment for our acceptance of homosexuality.

I'm sure people are dancing over this. Only because they may disagree with his views. It would be unfortunate to celebrate a man's demise. That's not to say he's not made his share of controversial statements that aren't PC. As much as I would like to wish him a speedy recovery, things don't appear to be looking too good for him. From the Tribune...
The Rev. Jerry Falwell was hospitalized in "gravely serious" condition after being found unconscious Tuesday in his office at Liberty University, a school executive said.

Ron Godwin, the university's executive vice president, said Falwell, 73, was found unresponsive around 10:45 a.m. and taken to Lynchburg General Hospital. Godwin said he was not sure what caused the collapse, but he said Falwell "has a history of heart challenges."

"I had breakfast with him, and he was fine at breakfast," Godwin said. "He went to his office, I went to mine, and they found him unresponsive."

Godwin said Falwell was receiving emergency care. A hospital spokeswoman said she had "no information to release at this time."

In any case, I may not always agree with his political and religious views, but I have to accept them. He's led a long life and I'll give him that much. Hopefully the reports that are coming out today aren't as bad as they're being made out to be. Of course either way there will be more updates during the day or until he finally passes away.

UPDATE: Jerry Falwell Dies After Falling Unconscious in His Office from FOXNews.com

Sunday, May 13, 2007

This was bound to happen wasn't it...

So Blagojevich has finally gotten some play on the blog of On The Fence Films. You know for whenever he unveiled his plan as well as his other health care schemes (for lack of a better term) I was wondering what took those guys so long. Right now when you read their blog their often taking aim at the health care system opposing the idea of a government run health care system. They especially take aim at the Canadian system.

So as a resident of Illinois we can look at the prescription drug import program that Blagojevich unveiled during his first term. Then kid care just last year and finally the gross receipts tax to fund another health care program in Illinois. Yeah what took those guys so long.

BTW, the GRT was voted down in the Illinois House this week. So this is without a doubt a loss. Of course there are those who think this is what the Governor wanted and if only to hammer the legislators as against his plan for a health care program for the people.

So when they looked at the GRT and Blago's dream of universal health insurance in Illinois. He even looked at Rev. Jesse Jackson's opposition to the Governor's plan making the statement...
However, even acclaimed friend of free markets and liberty Jesse Jackson thinks he's going too far:

"It would come through the small-business community like a tsunami," he said in an interview. "For a substantial number of small businesses and many of our established businesses, the tax would be higher than the profit. That is the real problem with it."
I'm thinking that if Blagojevich could target only white-owned businesses for taxation, he could possibly get Jackson on board.
Old news to be sure, Rev. Jackson was attempting to take care of the black business community. This was not a good statement to make on Jackson's oppostion, but still a good point. We already know that a black business group was in oppositon.

Still what took those guys so long to take a look at Illinois' health care politics?

Last night...

I was driving along 79th Street from about Cicero to Dan Ryan. It was great to see some of the changes along this stretch from a new building being constructed near 79th and Cicero (it was where at one point the 79th bus would go off the street to pick up passengers though probably not any more, it was directly behind a Dunkin Donuts). A house was getting a second story further west and not much to report beyond that until we finally reach 79th and Damen.

At this point the neighborhood starts to turn rough but there are some changes coming. However, we know it's about to be rough because in a four block stretch was Chicago Police cameras. One before Ashland and then another after Ashland.

On the northeast corner of 79th and Ashland was a building I'm somewhat familiar with. My cousin had her high school graduation ceremony there and there are rooms where churches who doesn't have a home will hold their services. In another life though this building was a theater. Now it's more or less a church or a series of churches. Though on this day there was advertisment for theater shows from the Black Ensemble Theater a Marquee as it were, with animation and such.

Now from about Ashland to about Halsted was see a new street scape. It's starting to look a lot cleaner with wrought iron fencing around pots of dirt for flowers and trees. The sidewalks look fresh. There are restaurants and other establishments. Don't get me wrong the area still is full of some rough looking characters, but change is coming and it will take some time.

The changes have been occuring for years though. Oh yeah BTW, did you know this stretch was in a neighborhood called Auburn-Gresham. Now back to the changes.

I remember once upon a time my mother would visit a beauty shop on 79th but for the life of me I couldn't tell you where that beauty shop was. There is a senior building on the northwest corner of 79th and Racine. Once upon a time there was a building there that obscures the famed St. Sabina, home of Father Pfleger. I remember watching channel 23 and they took a look at this sculpture on the grounds of this senior building. It would have been nice if it had been made by a black artist.

Directly across the street of this senior building is a BJ Market. It's a restaurant that serves some soul food. They make some good ribs tips and they have some greens and that good stuff. Haven't had much food from them in a long time. They do have establishments around the south side. There's one in Beverly across from Evergreen Plaza and another near 87th and Stony Island.

I should mention Walgreen's built a new store on 79th and Racine and it basically replaces the Walgreen's that used to be on 79th near the Dan Ryan. I'll get there in a minute. Now we just head further west.

There is a new city building. I couldn't tell you if it's a city bureau building or a library but it's brand new. There are some shuttered storefronts along the way. Near Leo High School there is a vacant lot or more like a field for Alumni. Just an area with nothing but grass. I gotta good look at Leo and I never recalled seeing a column on the top of the build with Leo painted on it.

I noticed a restaurant as we head toward a railroad viaduct past Halsted. It was operated by the Nation of Islam and the NOI has an office nearby. The restaurant is still used for special occasions having been closed years ago because of the parking situation. We see some more buidling past the railroad viaduct and near Vincennces. We see a billiards and dart store across the street from the new housing. Then past Vincennes is the CTA bus barn.

Now finally I arrive at the shopping center I'm somewhat familiar with near the expressway. I heard that the Dominick's that we shopped at various time over time was closed. But the whole shopping center which also housed a laundromat and at one point a Walgreens appears to be abandoned. Sad sight but finally we reached the expressway.

You know random questions to be asked. Why and the big time banks opening branches in these distressed neighborhoods when it's likely that they won't be opening many checking and savings accounts? Maybe most of their customers are from outside the neighborhood. I saw a Citibank and a Chase in the stretch from about Western to the Dan Ryan.

Anyway just a random observation.

I was watching NBC this afternoon and...

I was just thinking how far NBC Sports has fallen. It seems for awhile they didn't know what to do with themselves after not only losing the NFL in the early 1990s but eventually losing the NBA within the last 5 or so years. Yeah they've gotten the NHL and NFL back but something's still missing.

Yeah I could have watched the Kentucky Derby and after this it appears golf is coming next. Still I wonder how far have the fallen to cover some poker championships. My definition of sports are funny but I never thought of poker as a sport. And please understand this is not a knock at those who play poker to win and generally do win a lot of money.

My problems with watching sports on TV is just magnified watching the play by play of the poker championships this afternoon. Or maybe not sports but news in general, especially watching the 24/7 cable news channels. Just a lot of over analysis and no only that but the hype. Too many sports cliches like "you've gotta want it more."

Still I may not be liking this but I do wonder why I'm still watching this right now.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Ex-Imus producer calls Sharpton 'race-baiter' in TV debate over host's comments

Remember last night the debate between Imus producer Bernard McGuirk and Rev. Al Sharpton. I blogged about that last night and today it's made the Chicago Sun-Times. So let's see an excerpt...
McGuirk called Sharpton a ''crude ... opportunist, a race-baiter'' who campaigned against Imus to help his own career and raise his profile.

While McGuirk acknowledged that ''these words did hurt these girls,'' he added, ''until you, Reverend Al, got involved, they probably never would have heard of it. They would have probably never, quote unquote, got scarred for life until you got involved for your own self-serving interests.''

Sharpton said he wasn't looking for more attention -- ''if you have any recollection at all, I had been in the papers all year,'' he said. He said Imus and McGuirk may have apologized for the remark, but ''forgiveness is not the point. The question is the penalty.''

''Consumers have the right to say to advertisers, 'Are your standards going to be where people are attacked based on your gender and race?''' Sharpton said.

McGuirk countered that Sharpton ''terrorized these spineless, thumb-sucking executives'' into taking Imus off the air. In an earlier appearance on ''Hannity & Colmes,'' he said the executives ''were in a fetal position under their desks sucking their thumbs on their BlackBerrys, trying to coordinate their response.''

McGuirk said Imus ''made one small mistake. He ran a red light'' and shouldn't have been fired.

''Who elected you the p.c. police chief?'' he asked Sharpton. ''Who elected you to anything?''
Well I can say great points by McGuirk but Sharpton probably is still virtually unhurt by these statements.

Michele Obama is getting some exposure

A post about her on the Hotline On Call blog and just in time for Mother's Day too. She is getting more exposure as of late. I found this post over at Marathon Pundit talking a little about Mrs. Obama. Haven't had time to really read this but hopefully you will.

I think it's a good thing for Obama to pass her off as something as an asset to his campaign.

Friday, May 11, 2007

I watched a horrible episode of Dr. Phil today...

Not a criticism of the episode but a critique of the situation I saw today.

Yesterday we met a couple where the husband was totally obsessed with his wife. Well that was the title of the episode and the story was so compelling that there were three televised episodes and we'll still see updates. I probably only started to see the episode only about halfway in so I'll just tell you a little about what a know about this situation.

Dr. Phil visits the home of Jeffrey and Jennifer when they find that he will place bugs and hidden cameras around the house just to track her every move. I wonder what's that about? Does he think she's cheating on him. Well that element is still there.

Anyway, Jeffrey is undergoing some type of treatment where we see him discuss with his doctor how he would have liked the treatment to go and he understand that he's the only one standing in his own way. He wanted them to think he was OK but they proved to be tough and he figured out that he was no where close to being well with whatever angst he had. Eventually Jeffrey got to talk to Dr. Phil himself.

This was a rambling segment where he expressed how much he wanted to see his wife and kids. He wanted so much to see his wife and hoped to be able to join her and bring her in for some of his treatment. One guy who was involved in the situation said his (own) head was going to explode. Dr. Phil and his colleague said that this situation was going to be dangerous.

Guess what?

In the next episode we see that after leaving the studios Jeffrey would make his move and bolt from his SUV back to his clinic. He was riding around in Taxi cabs in Los Angeles making demands. Talking about writing bad checks to get a plane ticket back home. All kinds of stuff.

All the while Jennifer got in touch with her attorney and they talked about writing up the papers for her divorce from Jeffrey. She had to have already made up her mind and unfortunately feared for not only her safety but that of her children. She was strategizing on how to get her children squared away with her babysitter on the east coast but she didn't figure on one thing.

Jeffrey got home first and was already looking up phone numbers and email messages of Jennifer. He tried to hug her and she tried to tell him to leave their home. Jeffrey was still acting crazy and decided to take their daughters and out he went. Police was called with him at first convincing them that she was crazy then she had to convince them that he was a danger.

She got her kids and made for the midwest where she's from originally. Jennifer was quite concerned that Jeffrey was gonna to not only contact her there but that he was going to pay her a visit in the midwest. Obviously this situation was getting to Jennifer and definitely unbeknownst to Jeffrey.

In the meanwhile Jennifer's lawyer was making those moves trying to get an early courtdate so that he can deliver some papers to him. Jeffrey wanted to deny this situation and threw the papers back, but the lawyer explained that this was almost like putting some toothpaste back in the tube. When ever they went back to court Jeffrey lost badly in that he could only see his children until he has seen a psychiatrist and that he can have absolutely no contact with Jennifer forever. I mean WOW!!! It was that serious.

You would think that was the end of the story but it wasn't. Jeffrey at some point expressed interest in resuming his treatment and he called Dr. Phil producers. They arranged for him to be readmitted back to his clinic only for him to leave a few day later. During this time he concocted the story that his wife was cheating on him with another man and he wanted to be sure that his children would not get too close to this new man. There were pictures of this man with his face pixelated as his wife explained that she has met him maybe five minutes before that picture was taken.

Well his behavior got more bizzare before we found out what happened to Jeffrey. He disappeared and there were concerned that he would hurt himself. This story even made the local news in their homestate of Virginia. While he was ordered never to contact Jennifer again he continued to call and attempted to visit their home. Before he moved out he even went so far to as to snatch her underwear and sleepwear and post "I love you" notes all over their home.

Eventually he was caught attempting to contact her one last time before he was arrested for violating a court order prohibiting his contact of Jennifer and was put in jail without bond. He is awaiting trial. It was that bad.

If only we could know how far people can go in their behavior. What caused Jeffrey to go to such extremes with his wife? Why would he think it was appropriate? And for him to do all this would it be love? At what point does love become obsession?

There are a lot of questions to be asked. For those of you who saw the show in question, I hope you learned something. I hoped if give someone pause before they fell in love and got married to someone who can be a problem. I hope both guys and gals are re-evaluating their relationships and how they behave towards their partners. There are a lot of lessons to be learned here.

Rev. Al Sharpton and Bernard McGuirk...

They were on for the whole hour on FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes. Talking about a number of issues namely the Imus situation, Rev. Sharpton's remarks about Mormons, and even the Duke lacrosse team rape case. It was a pretty good debate and McGuirk has been mostly civil if not very combative. Sharpton attempts to dominate the discussion and is largely successful.

Well I can attribute that to the fact that he's a black minister. Black ministers don't mind talking. Still when McGuirk makes his point or Sean Hannity or even Alan Colmes attempt to chime in Rev. Sharpton starts talking either interrupting the other players on the set or just trying to keep going when everyone else wants to move on.

Oh yeah I should mention how McGuirk made note of Rev. Sharptons history of using racially charged language during his time in the public spotlight. It's a valid point and it's one reason why I'm not a supporter of his. I see Sharpton as a race baiter even if it could be said he was on the right side in this case.

BTW, McGuirk the producer for the Don Imus show.

It's something worth watching when you see the repeat tonight at 11:00 PM Chicago time.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Another story from the Civil Rights era comes to pass

And it seems like for a change that the person involved is doing the right thing now, finally. It's been in the news how justice or indeed a reopening of infamous cases from the Civil Rights Era. We could be talking about Emmit Till, to the three young men killed near Philadelphia, Mississippi (I would like to refer you to the movie Mississippi Burning for a dramatic account of that story).

Here's the story from the Chicago Tribune...
A former state trooper surrendered Thursday on a murder charge in the 1965 shooting death of a black man during a civil rights protest, a killing that led to the "Bloody Sunday" march and the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

Former trooper James Bonard Fowler, who contends he fired in self-defense in a struggle over a gun, was charged with first-degree and second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Jimmie Lee Jackson.

The first-degree charge is for a killing that is intentional, while the second-degree charge is for one that is unintentional. Both carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Fowler, who is 73 and lives in Geneva in southeast Alabama, was allowed to remain free on a $250,000 property bond.

Fowler said little other than to describe himself as a farmer.

His attorney, George Beck, said the case is prejudiced against his client because of the passage of time and the death of witnesses, and he said he would seek to have the charges dismissed.

A Perry County grand jury returned the sealed indictment against Fowler on Wednesday in the 1965 killing in Marion.

He is accused of shooting Jackson in Mack's Cafe, where a number of people fled after troopers and other law officers broke up a protest on the night of Feb. 18, 1965. Witnesses said the officers were clubbing people in an out-of-control attack that continued into the cafe, where they said Jackson was trying to protect his mother and grandfather when he was shot.

Accounts by troopers say the crowd refused orders to disperse and, when the street lights suddenly went out, they were pelted by bricks and bottles.

Fowler has said he was assisting a trooper who had been struck when Jackson hit him on the head with a bottle. He said he fired the gun when Jackson tried to grab it.

"He was up here quelling a disturbance and someone was killed," Beck said. "It's very unfortunate but it's certainly not murder. Under no circumstances could it be intentional murder or murder. The shooting was justified and the evidence will show this."

District Attorney Michael Jackson, who is not related to the victim, said Thursday that in probing the four-decade-old case, he learned that Fowler also shot a detainee to death in 1966 at the city jail in Alabaster and struck his superior officer in 1968.

Alabama Department of Public Safety records show that Fowler was fired on Sept. 30, 1968, but do not indicate the reason.

Fowler did not comment on the matter Thursday. Beck said he was uncertain about details of the Alabaster shooting, but he said the 1968 altercation occurred when Fowler was mourning the death of his brother in Vietnam and there was a disagreement over sick pay.
Not a well known story of course but one worth mentioning. If an injustice was proven to be done here then there will still be justice even after all this time.

I really ran into this...

First and foremost I just got back home today so I'm just now checking my emails. I just now got DSL set up at home now I just want to make this post now. I haven't even checked out the Capitol Fax Blog today yet.

Anyway two stories that I found today. The first involves the former Alderman Edward Vrdolyak. He was the main man in opposition against the late Mayor Harold Washington. In recent years he's more of a Republican power broker although he used to be Cook County Democratic Party chairman. From Crain's...
A longtime fixture of Chicago politics, former Ald. Edward Vrdolyak (10th), was indicted Thursday on federal fraud and bribery charges in connection with an alleged kickback scheme involving the sale of choice property on the city’s Gold Coast.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald filed charges alleging that Mr. Vrdolyak schemed with businessman Stuart Levine to defraud the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science of the full value of land it owned at Dearborn and Oak streets.

Mr. Vrdolyak allegedly served as a middleman in the transaction between Mr. Levine, who then served on the school’s board and headed its real estate committee, and a developer interested in buying the property, Chicago-based Smithfield Properties.

Prosecutors contend the duo sought to split $1.5 million in kickbacks, with Smithfield initially offering millions of dollars less for the property than it eventually sold for.

Neither Mr. Vrdolyak, 69, long known in political circles as “Fast Eddie,” nor his lawyer immediately was available for comment.
More items from the Chicago Tribune
Vrdolyak indicted in real estate case
'Fast Eddie' finally gets nailed by John Kass