Friday, July 31, 2009

This is why I don't always support the minimum wage

John Stossel at Reason: "A Minimum Wage Equals Minimum Jobs". Eh?
Several years ago, the city council of Santa Monica, Calif., decided to make the town a workers' paradise by passing a union-backed law requiring everyone to be paid at least $12.25 an hour.

At the time, restaurant owner Jeff King complained to me that that law would "dry up the entry-level jobs for just the people they're trying to help."

He was right. It's why gas stations no longer hire teenagers to wash your windshield. Wage minimums tell employers: "Don't give a beginner a chance."

Such losses are hard to see, but they are widespread. One company closes because it can't afford to pay higher wages. Another decides to produce its product with fewer workers, and another never expands. Perhaps most importantly, there's the business that never opens. The people who were never hired don't complain—they wouldn't know whom to blame—they don't even know that they were harmed. They are the unseen victims.

The good news is that the people of Santa Monica woke up and overturned the "living wage."
How appropriate this article is as Chicago debates whether or not they should allow Wal-Mart to open another store within the city limits. One of the issues that has come up in this debate has been whether or not Wal-Mart should be forced to pay a "living wage" to their workers. There is a perception that Wal-Mart doesn't treat their workers very fairly, although, I have to way to independently verify that.

Anyway here's more from Stossel:
If minimum-wage advocates really believe wages are set arbitrarily, why do they favor only a $7.50 or $14 minimum? Why not $100?

At those levels, even a diehard interventionist knows that workers would be hurt. But the principle is the same at lower levels. If wages are a function of productivity, not whim, then it follows that if the minimum wage is set above workers' productivity, those workers—the intended beneficiaries of the legislation—will be harmed.

The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again. Well, let me correct that. For some minimum-wage advocates, the bad consequences are not quite unintended. Consider the support for the minimum wage from large companies like Wal-Mart and organized labor. Why do they want the minimum raised? Economist Alex Tabarrok of George Mason University answers, "[T]hese employers will benefit from an increase in the minimum wage because it will raise the costs of their rivals. This is why unions have typically been in favor of the minimum wage even when their own workers make much more than the minimum."

Where there's "humanitarian" government intervention, there are politically connected special interests reaping the benefits.
Tell you what, there are more pressing issues than this on the Wal-Mart issue in Chicago. There are issues of traffic and what this store could do to already established businesses in the neighborhood (Chatham) where this is supposed to be built.

As for labor at Wal-Mart what I say is that it is up to each and every individual worker or job-hunter to determine how much they are worth and what benefits they can get from their employer. If such a worker is a valued employee surely an employer will work with this employee to keep them at their company. More often than not it may not do much good to just refuse to pay the worker however much they are worth or to give them the benefits that they may need, especially health insurance.

BTW, I've worked out in my head the "single-mother" problem. She may need better pay and benefits the most. Perhaps more than a senior citizen who may have as much of a need for health insurance. But a single mother, who may not have much support for her and her children (she may only have one or she may have more), may have to clothe, feed, and house her babies. She may even have to worry about babysitters especially if no one in her family are able to take care of them while she's at work. The most important think a single mother should be worried about is health insurance for herself and her children.

Of course that being said, she has to negotiate that with her employer and it might take her some time to convince her employer. That also depends on whether or not she is a valued employee.

Well that's my opinion on this issue of wages. What do you think?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Detroit Riverfront Pics

I'm going to work on the video that I have of my train ride and of the river front. For now however here are some pics that I have of the Detroit Riverfront.

I do believe this is a concession stand. You prolly can buy some food, and also use the bathroom.

This is a map of all the Great Lakes and those cities that are the closest to them. Even I had to re-educate myself on these lakes, Huron, Superior, Michigan, Erie, & Ontario. While Detroit has a namesake river to the east of the City there is a Lake St. Clair to the north of where I was taking pics.

Here on the ground is a map of Detroit and the surrounding area. This was near the glass map of the Great Lakes.

In this pic you are looking square into a foreign country, Canada. Windsor, Ontario, Canada is directly across the Detroit River and you can go across a bridge, Ambassador Bridge or in a tunnel under the river, Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.

Another sculpture that denotes the Detroit riverwalk.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

AKA president sued by fellow sorors

Members of a prominent Chicago-based sorority are suing to oust their national president -- former Chicago Housing Authority comptroller Barbara McKinzie -- saying she misappropriated funds and commissioned a $900,000 wax figure of herself.

She also is accused of taking nearly $400,000 for personal expenses and arranging for a $4,000 monthly stipend to be paid to herself after she leaves office.

McKinzie, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and its current and some former board of directors members are targeted in a lawsuit filed by eight sorority members last month.
So has the Chicago-way infected the oldest black Greek lettered sorority in the nation?
•      •      AKA directors violated the group's rules when they approved a four-year "pension stipend" for a total of nearly $192,000. They also purchased a $1 million life insurance policy for McKinzie.

•      •      McKinzie used the group's American Express card to buy designer clothing, lingerie and jewelry, then redeemed points racked up on the card to get a 46-inch HDTV, gym equipment and other items for personal use.

•      •      The president started a campaign to raise $100 million for an endowment fund to be run by her management firm -- BMC Associates.
Heh, I'm going to guess that the Chicago-way has infected that sorority.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

On visiting Detroit...

Perhaps based upon what has been written about Detroit, I already came in with some preconceived notions. Short of proving them correct, let me just state that there are some things to see in Detroit and some things not to see. Since I took the train and I took the cab to a hotel in downtown, I saw the abandoned buildings on the way to our hotel.

In addition downtown itself looks vacant some buildings had storefronts waiting for a business to come in. Some buildings look like they could use a good cleaning and some downtown buildings were as boarded up as any building in the neighborhoods. I must add however that downtown may be buzzing with activity in the evenings, there are things to do and places to go. There are restaurants, clubs, and bars and on top of that I can only imagine the activity on game day whenever the Detroit Red Wings, Lions, and Tigers play in their respective arenas near downtown.

BTW, I really liked the people mover. It's just that my impression is that it's not moving the people around the area or at least not serving the amount of people I would have imagined it would have, had perhaps there had been more activity downtown.

I'm sure many of you remember this video I posted two years ago about journalists taking a video camera on a tour of Detroit. I didn't have a chance to do that this trip since it was so brief. I would have liked to have seen some of the neighborhoods whether rough, middle-class or wealthy. Indeed it would have been nice to see the Ford Museum.

I did hear some of my relatives (well I did go to a family reunion up there), however, talk some Detroit politics since well there has been some upheaval. A member of the city council wife of a powerful congressman forced to resign and copped a plea for bribery. The resignation of a young mayor forced because he lied about a relationship with his own chief of staff and at that caught texting on government owned cell-phones. A mayoral election is coming up as well next month. This year have seen two mayors already in Detroit.

Currently Dave Bing is the mayor, however, he had to go through Ken Cockrel who reverted back to City Council President after losing his bid to remain mayor of Detriot by Dave Bing. Now Bing seeks the office in his own right as the recent election in May was only a special election.

Hey let's talk about that young ex-mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick. I can only imagine that he still has his supporters, unfortunately I can only wonder if that will matter in the long run. He may never rise higher than being a big shot in a big city thanks to his legal troubles that took him from the mayor's office. The thing is is he young enough to recover he may be and I'm sure his supporters may overlook the mistakes of the past.

Anyway it was mentioned that his mother a state representative for Detroit has the ability to get state funds for Detroit. That's probably another good reason to support Mr. Kwame Kilpatrick although he may not be in office any longer, that money may contiue to flow. I must say while Detroit has stuggled over the years Michigan is doing so as well, economic conditions currently may not favor the state at all.

That being said touring Detroit at night I saw some of the handiwork of Kwame Kilpatrick. There was a plaze where it was said you could come in and see a movie, you know like movie in a park, although there wasn't a park here. The movie was The Blues Brothers playing on that particular evening.

What was more impressive in my mind was what was said to be Coleman Young's (another former mayor of Detriot) handiwork, the riverwalk. Across the Detroit River you are literally looking at a foreign country, Canada! The Riverwalk is nice there are concession stands, monuments, maps of the surround Detriot area, artwork, etc. Before Mayor Young turned his attention to the riverwalk, this area was a filthy dump. Beyond that I didn't have a favorable opinion of Coleman Young.

I won't say too much more negative things about Detroit. What I will say is this!

Detroit may have come a long way down and certainly will come a long way up! As a city, especially the ones that have fallen, I can see potential. With a decent vision Detroit can be rebuilt although if Detroit relied primarily on the auto industry the challenge is certainly diversifying industries within the city. How can a city that has fallen on tough times be able to attracts new residents and new businesses?

I would imagine that Detriot with some of the nice areas I have seen, will have that challenge ahead as they decide who will continue to lead the city in the future!

BTW, I intend to post some pics. I have video, but that takes time to upload and edit and then present it to you. Let's just say I would like to show you some video, but don't be surprised if all you get is video. Thanks! :)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Taking Amtrak to Detroit

Basically this is the all-time shortest trip I have ever taken on Amtrak. It's about five hours between Chicago and Detroit. The train I was riding "The Wolverine" terminates in Pontiac, Michigan (the former home of the Detroit Lions location of the Silverdome). In my lifetime my shortest ride on Amtrak would be riding on "The City of New Orleans" where I would get off from that train in the we hours of the morning like maybe 5 or 6 AM in Memphis, Tennessee that train continues to New Orleans, LA. Recently the shortest ride would have been riding on the "Capitol Limited", but the all time longest would be riding  the "Southwest Chief" that was almost 40 or 42 hours going to Los Angeles, California.

BTW, that is too long to just ride away in a coach seat and when I do go back by train, I plan on getting a sleeper berth. That's more money, but nothing beats hopping on a train for that length of time with a bed ready to go and with complimentary bottled water, coffee, orange juice, and even complimentary meals in the dining car. Of course for the meals that's included in the price of a sleeper car ticket. Essentially this is considered first-class for train passengers.

Anyway Michigan is known as the center of the automotive industry, but they're also home to the breakfast cereal industry. We stopped in Battle Creek, Michigan which is home to Post and Kellogg's. In fact we would ride by a Post plant and Kellogg's was on the other side of the train and I couldn't get a good look at that site. By about Dearborn, Michigan, the next stop before Detroit we saw hints of Ford seeing the site of a research building and even the Ford Museum.

Well, I saw the Ford Museum leaving Detroit on the train. Not sure why I didn't notice when the train was pulling into Detroit. I saw buildings and trains that indicated this was from The Ford Museum, but it took me a while to recognize that I was looking at the museum from "The Wolverine".

Also my train would pass thru two college towns in both Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo. We see some magnificient small city skylines passing thru Michigan in Jackson, Albion or Kalamazoo. Detroit from a distance looks great as our station is quite away from downtown Detroit.

The clientele on the train was diverse. People of many different backgrounds coming back and forth thru Indiana and Michigan by train. If these riders chose not to drive the train was the only option especially if there were no airports nearby to take them where they needed to go. Or perhaps you don't need to hop on a plane if you were within hours of home.

Anyway, I know Amtrak isn't without it's problems. There are those who insists that it must be privatized and it must be free from government subsidies. People might focus on the accidents and perhaps the issues of service.

Still I like Amtrak. I may not necessarily have an answer to it's long term viability, but there is certainly need for passenger rail in the state, especially if the idea is to give Americans an alternative to using their cars especially when commuting to work or traveling short distances such as between Chicago and Detroit.

Well let's ask the question. Does Amtrak have a vital purpose as a transport mode in America?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I'm digging these two retro designed autos

Heh, currently I'm in Motor City, MoTown, or Detroit, Michigan. This is a city that's not doing very well right now, but it's forever known for being an important city for the auto industry. Too bad that the two of the big three automakers are struggling enough where they recieve government bailout money to keep them afloat.

Well the purpose of this post is not to opine about the state of the auto industry, but to just highlight the cars I wish I could buy today! Chrysler's PT Cruiser and the Chevy HHR. These two cars are retro and from what I can tell the PT Cruiser would be considered an SUV, in fact the PT and HHR are considered crossover SUVs. However in my mind, both are more like regular cars. They are more like station wagons and you don't see those brand new and for sale as much these days.

For the most part, unlike most guys I couldn't tell you anything technical about these cars such as horsepower, type of engine, even miles per gallon. I respond more or less to not only the design of the car, but for what purpose I may want to buy a car. In my case, it's important to have a car to roll around in preferably not commuting, but at least something that I would feel great about driving around in.

That being said I have a great admiration for retro styling. When Ford re-introduced the Thunderbird (T-Bird) into the marketplace in 2002 it could easily be the car of my choice for it's retro styling and bringing back the sportcar look for a model that had started to become more of a family car as time went on. Of course the T-Bird was styled based upon earlier model years, perhaps based upon the designs of the late 50s, early 60s.

The retro styling of the HHR & PT Cruiser were based on earlier models made by both Chevy & Chrysler. The PT is based upon the Chrysler Airflow. The HHR is based on the 1949 design of the Chevy Suburban. The Airflow certainly was the right size of cars in those days and the 1949 Suburban well it could certainly be considered an SUV even though in the late 1940s the basic design of the automobile would change from it's more oversized appearance. Certainly the Suburban evolved into the SUV many of us are more familiar with although SUV probably wasn't defined when the Suburban was first produced in the 1930s.

The HHR seems much larger than the PT and the PT seems a bit more streamlined than the HHR. Perhaps if I research enough I might be able to find out which car is faster or what is more apt to for hauling. Both might be OK to take on a roadtrip anywhere.

You know who else should get into this "retro" business? Ford. I mentioned the Ford Thunderbird but while it re-entered the market with a new design in 2002, they stopped production once again in 2005. If only they could hire Bryan Nesbitt the designer of both the PT Cruiser and HHR. Surely he can design the modern version of the Model T to compete with his other two creations. And I just threw the Model T out there since older model car was the inspirations for the design of the PT and HHR.

I would be more apt to support Ford especially since they did well enough where they didn't have to ask for any bailout funds. For now if I insist on retro-styled autos I may well just consider either the HHR or the PT and hope that one day Chrysler and Chevy (GM) may do well without the use of government money.


This is what happens when I'm on the road to Detroit:
After I got divorced I met the a wonderful girl but my erections were soft and needed some help. So I tried VGeneric Viagra, 20 minutes after taking the Viagra my erections are enhanced to new levels. And it was the solution to my impotence problem.
This "spam" comment was in response to this thread about a Mary Mitchell column on birth control. I posted excerpts from that column close to two years ago.

Heh, when you think about it, why is the commenter who is known as "Julia F." talking about getting divorced and meeting a wonderful girl, but complaining about soft erections. I didn't know there were men named Julia. :P

BTW, I rejected the comment!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hmm, how do I get these?

Perhaps two days after I wrote about Illinois' Lt. Governorship, I get an e-mail from a Republican candidate for Lt. Governor:
For Immediate Release
July 20, 2009

State Representative Dave Winters Announces Candidacy for Lieutenant Governor

Rockford, IL (July 20, 2009) - After six weeks of testing the waters with an exploratory committee, State Representative Dave Winters plans to announce a bid for Illinois Lieutenant Governor Wednesday, July 22.

Rep. Winters formed an exploratory committee seeking advice and backing from colleagues of the Illinois House and Senate, as well as congressman, community and business leaders. "I'd like to thank my exploratory committee members for their counsel and support through this process; without their unyielding encouragement I wouldn't have such a strong agenda for job growth and reform in Illinois," Winters said.

Press Conferences will be held at the following locations:

   . 9:30 am - Chicago (Union League Club, 65 W. Jackson Blvd.)
   . 11:45 am - Champaign (Flight Star at University of Illinois' Willard Airport)
   . 1:30 pm - Springfield (Capitol Press Room)
   . 3:15 pm - Peoria (Peoria International Airport, Lower Conference Room)
   . 5:00 pm - Rockford (Greater Rockford Airport, Observation Court)
You can see a PDF version here!

Well I know how I get these. I've been in the bloggosphere or "Blogginois" for quite a while. Statewide attention and distribution through many blogs such as Illinoize or Capitol Fax. That's to name a couple of places oh yeah the good folks at Gaper's Block as well. ;)

The CapFax provides this interview with Rep. Winters just before he announced on Monday that he's running for Lt. Governor. He talked about flying on a plane and suffering a mechanical failure. He is a pilot anyway, but I'll let him tell his story.

BTW, this is already old news to many people but I had to offer some of my thoughts on it. If you represent someone who's running for Lt. Gov, I don't mind if you hand a press release my way. Or if you like to comment on any statewide race in Illinois, this is one place you can do it!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Blair Holt's killer gets 100 years

WOW! I'm going to just say that this individual got the book thrown right at him!
The teenage gunman who admitted gunning down Julian High School honors student Blair Holt on a packed CTA bus was sentenced this afternoon to 100 years in prison.

Michael “Mario” Pace, 18, could have served life in prison for his role in the May 10, 2007, killing.

Pace pleaded guilty last month to two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated battery.

Kevin Jones, the 17-year-old accused of supplying Pace with the .40-caliber gun used in the shootings, already has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit murder.

Holt died shielding his friend Tiara Reed when Pace, a reputed gang member, stormed a CTA bus at 103rd and Halsted and began shooting, trying to strike a rival. Holt, 16, was not the intended target.

Reed was shot in the foot. Three others were injured.
If 100 years in prison isn't life, I don't know what is. If there is a lawyer in the house does 100 years in prison mean something else? Is it possible he'll get parole in 10? How come this isn't considered life in prison because 100 years is close to life in prison to me!

BTW, read the whole article! Focus on the thoughts of his parents, they spoke at this sentencing.

Also, I don't think this guy cared what happened to him as I read the rest of this article. He didn't care who he shot at and the fact that he got sent away to prison for 100 years, the article made it seem like it was no big deal to him!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

About Illinois' Lt. Governorship...

Levi Moore who is the "statehouse examiner" at talks about the position of Illinois Lt. Governor. It's up for election next year and currently it's vacant since our current Governor, Pat Quinn, ascended to the office of Governor upon the removal of Rod Blagojevich in January. Vacant because apparently there is no provision similar to the US Constitution's 25th Amendment to provide for succession to the Lt. Governorship.

I saw on Eric Zorn's blog in a recent post that there have been proposals to either eliminate the Lt. Gov. post or at the very least allow gubernatorial candidates to be able to select their running mates. You know almost similar to the process that a Presidential candidate make to select a running mate who will run with him as the Vice-Presidential nominee. Currently voters choose the ticket for both Gov. or Lt. Gov on a primary ballot and the winners of this primary become the Gubernatorial ticket in the general election.

Here's another Zorn post from this past May on this very subject. That is the arguments to eliminate this position were outlined, but one minor thing keeps Lt. Gov. post alive. This office and another non-essential office, Comptroller (the office that Sen. Roland Burris was elected to in the late 70s to become the first black to win election statewide in Illinois) or even Treasurer, are used as stepping stones. To create a minor-league of sorts for those who have aspirations for higher office in this state.

In Illinois, you might be considered a big deal if you run the offices at least of Secretary of State or Attorney General. While it was noted on Zorn's blog again that no one went from state Attorney General to Governor, I do know that two recent Governors, Jim Edgar and George Ryan, were elected directly from the office of Secretary of State. Both of those offices have significant staff and responsibilities.

BTW, the office is significant only that the Lt. Gov. is second in succession to the state Governorship when a Governor dies, incapacitated, or removed from office. There is some responsibility given to the office although these responsibilities may only be provided by the Governor himself (or herself) of course that is provided that these two individuals who had no choice since the voters essentially put them together have a decent working relationship.

Once upon a time before the enactment of the 1970 constitution of Illinois, Lt. Gov could actually preside over sessions of the state Senate. There wasn't always the position of Senate President unless you want to count the position of President Pro-Tempore. Remember the structure of government in most state matches somewhat loosely the structure of the federal government, especially as established in the US Constitution. Thus up until 1970 the Lt. Governor had a responsibility similar to that of the Vice President of the United States and the state Senate had their own President Pro-Tempore just like the US Senate.

Anyway, the structure of state government in Illinois is what it is today and there are those who advocate for the restructuring of offices or even how they are elected or still the elimination of that position. Perhaps it was a mistake to put both offices up for election in a primary and keep them together in a general election. Perhaps it was a mistake to remove the Lt. Governor's role as the presiding officer of the state Senate.

Still I wouldn't advocate for it's elimination. There are probably better more numerous aspects of government that can be cut that maybe a couple of statewide offices. Perhaps Cook County government could use some contraction in executive elected officials or there have been discussions of say consolidating school districts in the state.

Still, there is a virtue to having offices that may not have the importance of either Governor, Secretary of State or Attorney General that may allow an aspiring politician to move up in state politics. The minor-league system or bench that allows a very ambitious pol to make of their position what they will and not merely draw a paycheck. In doing so such a person hopefully will have the ability to advance themselves as a future candidate for much higher office.

Friday, July 17, 2009

My has downtown Chicago changed

Som pics I took around downtown Chicago yesterday!
I could literally cross Madison St from Chase Tower to the building on the North side of the street and find myself in the pedway system. Can't do it anymore, I don't remember when I noted that bridge over Madison street was removed.
Carson's on State & Madison closed just over two years ago. I miss being able to browse in this Louis Sullivan designed building. If only Carson's had chosen to instead just scaled back operations instead of just simply closing their store here. Also noted is that while this was considered Carson's flagship store, Carson's parent company no longer owned the building.
Again looking at State and Madison this is where Sears now has a store, but up until maybe 2001 or 2002 it was home to a Walgreen's. I've seen pics of this corner going back 50 or so years and Walgreen's was always there, but now there is no Walgreen's on this corner anymore. Just around the corner on Madison was Garrett's which is still on Madison but East of State now, but where ever Garrett's was it's merely windows for Sear's downtown store.
The city was finally able to find a developer! Well this is old news of course as construction has been ongoing for a while here on Block 37. Now this place is home to CBS2 you can see them on Dearborn.

This place was supposed to be home for a superstation for the CTA, but that project was cancelled because it was simply costing too much money. I don't know what else is supposed to be on this formerly vacant block however.

I can say this in the winter it was a skating rink, in the summer it was a place that provided work for talented students in the arts. It was called Gallery 37, and now the city has finally built on it. Once upon a time over 20 years ago, this was the site of some architecturally significant buildings that were razed by the city, unfortunately it took a long time before any development took place on this site.

Thursday, July 16, 2009 signs on CTA Blue Line

Marathon Pundit, I do think I have something for you. Those Obama-like Stimulus signs you talk about are seen on the Blue Line. I took the first pic at the stairway at Monroe across the street from Chase Tower, the other pic was at Clark/Lake.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Videographer Fail

Well this person isn't what you would consider your typical railfan. And this isn't to generalize, however, I'm not sure I would expect a tirade from a person who's hobby is to take video or photos of trains. Also the guy who got into his shot really does need to put his Ipod away!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

From excellence to exodus, Harlan strives for rebirth Part 2

I promised in last Sunday's post a part 2 the next day, well there were other things of interest going on. Indeed I haven't posted the last two days so it should have been either Thursday or Friday, but I didn't commit. Today I commit.

So Part 2 is supposed to be about leadership. I mentioned that one of my classmates had his two cents about our principal during our time there. Of course let me preferace that by saying he doesn't blame her for everything and nor would I for that matter. Although in that position well the turnaround either didn't take or she was in over her head.

So we take you back to December 2001 when that Catalyst article was written and the excerpts will focus on the school's leadership:
Achievement continued to decline, the building to decay. Harlan’s principals may have felt too overwhelmed to fight for the school or were simply resigned to their circumstances, Foster speculates. “Somebody should have been over at the board beating on the table, ‘We’re dying out here.’”

By the mid-‘90s, only 7 percent of Harlan students scored at grade level in reading on the Tests of Achievement and Proficiency. Oehmen recalls that era as a low point for student morale. “Most had been sent here and didn’t want to be here. Somehow, Harlan had become the school of last resort.”

In September 1996, the mayor’s new school team placed low-scoring schools like Harlan on academic probation. Schools were to select a university or non-profit organization from an approved list to help them improve instruction and school management.
My algebra teacher went off on us one day. He was temperamental guy, but he wasn't always. I think he may have brought it up. The school being on probation was likely the first time I have ever heard that. I don't know if we were supposed to know about that. If we were then just as easily the parents should have known about this. I would imagine that many would have shrugged it off, parents or students wouldn't have had any interest in either transferring or turning that school around or whatever.

To the first paragraph of the excerpt, I wonder how overwhelming was the problem. Prior to the takeover of the schools by the City of Chicago, I remember there was always talk of budget deficits, something amazingly enough we still don't hear much about. Even though before former CPS CEO Arne Duncan became the Secretary of Education he was talking about more money for schools.

I remember this concept suffered a quiet death. We had small schools then the next year there were no more small schools...
Harlan went through a revolving door of external partners. The school dropped the University of Illinois’ Small Schools Workshop, reasoning that dividing staff into smaller “schools-within-schools” was impractical given the small student body, an administrator recalls.
There were other partners, but for some reason these partners didn't fit very well with the school. The article doesn't explain but all this switching was taking its toll on the school's faculty:
“Each time, it’s all new paperwork, all new routines,” one veteran teacher says of the constant switching. “You learn to use new materials and next year, start all over again.”

Teachers say they were inundated with paperwork. Under probation, staff are required to document their efforts to improve achievement, such as contacting parents and planning curriculum.

“Each year it became more and more insane,” one teacher recalls. “There were 1,000 things to do.” Between the spring of 1997 and the spring of 1999, Harlan had the fourth highest teacher-turnover rate of any high school in the district, according to data provided by the Consortium on Chicago School Research. Over 20 teachers left.

“It got to the point of ‘Why are we doing this?’” another teacher explains. “We get paid the same as people who don’t have to put up with this.”
This is when I found out that my classmate was telling the truth about our former principal. Not that I didn't believe him but this next excerpt brought what he said home:
Some describe their principal at the time, Barbara Edwards, as likable but ineffective. She failed to clamp down on teachers who were repeatedly late to work or neglected paperwork, one veteran recalls.

The school’s test scores remained stagnant. In the spring of 2000, the board ousted Edwards, and scrambled to find Harlan a new leader.
Then it came time to find a new Principal for Harlan, the one selected used to be a principal at a  grammar school. The students weren't very happy:
Students were less receptive. Grissett introduced herself at an assembly and laid down some new rules. “Everyone booed,” recalls Anthony Ellis, a junior. “We liked our old principal—she let us do whatever we wanted.”

Several honors students say they viewed arriving at class on time as optional and, the day before vacations, routinely cut out after 3rd period— right in front of the security guards. “National ditch day,” they called it.
You know, it wasn't until senior year when I started cutting. Of course it was only on days before vacations or when I knew there was no class. Perhaps there was no excuse for doing it, but then there was a reason why students ditched. Perhaps student morale was low as well as the staff no one wanted to do anything.

But with a new regime things have changed, it's a wonder what leadership would do!
Now, with consequences like Saturday detention, tardies are down 50 percent, one girl estimates. The same security guards are more alert, too, the kids say. “They’re going to chase you,” another girl reports.
Since 1996, the School Board has sunk billions into school renovation and construction, and Grissett got Harlan its share.

“She wrote letters, she called people. ‘How can we not have basic things?’ She just stayed on top of it,” says Associate Principal Gertrude Hill, who is Grissett’s second-in-command.

Foster observes that in this system, principals must squeak to get grease. “She squeaked loud and hard down at central office about her needs.”
Joyce Woldemariam, who has a master’s degree in mathematics, decided to switch schools this year. She says she chose Harlan for its small size and because it was her first interview. She reports she has a cabinet full of supplies and easy access to administrators. “They tend to ask a lot—what do you need? And I like that.”
You may want to know where's Harlan today. Well they have a new principal and are poised for new success in the future. They have an academic center (AC), if I recall before I went to school at Harlan I had this 8th teacher who claimed that he opposed sending 7th & 8th graders to Harlan. Although since ACs are touted at advanced for 7th & 8th graders it might be one way of changing the student culture of a school. I think my former 8th Grade teacher lost that battle. I can't tell you how he viewed this development.

This fall a magnet program in engineering is starting up there. If only there was ROTC when I was there, because I would have been involved, I was already interesting at that time in the military. It's possible that there was a lot Harlan missed out on back then that now today's students will take advantage of.

You know if Harlan's reputation was for violence or lack of academic rigor, it takes time to change that rep. I hope that Harlan can become as well know for it's reputation as a school that can send students to the top schools in the nation. I want to see that happen. It doesn't have to be Whitney Young or any other selective enrollment or magnet high schools.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Interesting day today was

Those who want to run next year are making their moves today. Kirk Dillard, Mark Kirk, even Lisa Madigan. The interesting part about Lisa Madigan is that she's staying put.

She was being courted heavily for US Senate and it was expected she was to run for Governor. In fact between Governor or for the Senate seat held by Roland Burris currently, odds her she'd have opted for Governor. Instead today, we learn she's running for Attorney General (AG) the post she currently holds now!


I can only wonder if the iron isn't hot enough. Perhaps now isn't the best time to make a move and move up. For the Senate well I can understand if she had no interest in uprooting her family and go thru the motions of Washington, DC and gain more seniority or what not in addition to fundraising. But passing up the Governorship where perhaps Lisa Madigan can truly impart her impact on the state.

Perhaps she's not in the mood to touch the important issues of this state. Gridlock for what reason is something that is beyond me. Perhaps it's the problem of family ties, her father is the Speaker of the IL House. Perhaps the budget deficits left by the mismanagement of Ousted governor, the same one she herself sought to at least temporarily remove from office.

It could be the Madigan curse, well not a curse. Perhaps she has the same reticence of her father who was unwilling to challenge Ousted governor himself back in 2006. The main reason is because it took over two decades to elect a Democratic governor. That why as he explained it in a column that he continued to support Ousted governor even when he was found to be corrupt before he got arrested by federal authorities.

Anyway 2010, may well be interesting. People are already predicting that DuPage State's Attorney Joe Birkett is likely to lose if he had to face Lisa Madigan for AG. As for the Governor's race well the Republican field is continuing to form. Dillard just announced today for Governor and Kirk well he's going for the US Senate. As for the Dems, Pat Quinn is looking like the front runner already and the Dem field seems like well they're slower to make up their minds about running against him.

This in spite of the continuing fight over the budget and Quinn is probably not proving himself in this fight. Quinn already starts off weak it seems, but I learned almost 4 years ago to not be very confident that the one who shouldn't get in won't. Quinn could win this race, but it might be he has to hopefully not repeat the mistakes of his first year in office.

Then again this could be a ripe pick up for Republicans. Not just for Governor, but for Burris' senate seat. I can see it happening for both and if resources were available they won't have to pick and choose either.

BTW, here's some food for thought from Eric Zorn: Madigan: `A.G.' doesn't stand for `Aspiring Governor'

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

From Sept. 2005: Our next election...

Our next election...

Looks like things are taking shape for 2010, but for right now we should read my first take on 2006. If only we knew then what we know now!

The CapFax had a couple of posts these past two days on who might be the strongest candidates for Governor with both the Democratic and Republican fields. Perhaps I will do a future post evaluating them.

I already did a post about Dan Proft!

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Cubs sale finalized for TribCo

Cubs sale finalized for TribCo | Crain's Chicago Business

It's about time. That sale seemed to have dragged on forever and ever as Tribune Co. owner Sam Zell had to navigate the economy (with dried up credit markets) in addition to deciding whether or not to sell the team and Wrigley Field separately or as a package. Besides they almost sold Wrigley Field to the state before the arrest and eventual removal of our Ousted governor.

Finally the Cubs have a new owner. I hope they can get the team their first world series in over a century. If they do that's great, but personally I still wish it could've been Mark Cuban!

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

From excellence to exodus, Harlan strives for rebirth Part 1

Yesterday, I decided to peruse the home page of my high school alma mater, Harlan Community Academy. For the most part I keep it vague about where I went to school perhaps save for one time. I blogged a story in year one about a shooting that took place within the school. It caused me to post a couple of blogs at The Sixth Ward about Harlan as they have a NING group, a blog, and even a Twitter account.

Awesome news I though as I found those thru their compilation of links, more specifically their "in the news" links, an article from the Dec. 2001 issue of Catalyst Chicago. This website's beat is Chicago's public schools.

Anyway this article, gives a good time line of events which brings you to roughly the time I started to attend the school. First in excerpting this article let's look at some background these numbers are from 2001:
Harlan High School stands on a tree-lined street across from a row of tidy bungalows in Roseland. With its clean brick walls and park-side location, it hardly fits the image of an urban school of last resort.

Yet that’s what it has become. Last year, Harlan lost 77 percent of Chicago public high school students in its attendance area—a total of 1,529—to other Chicago public high schools. That’s the highest “defection rate” in the city.

An 8th-grader at a nearby elementary school puts it bluntly: “Most people who come out of here, if they don’t make the score, they go to Harlan,” she says, meaning grade-level scores on standardized tests. “If they made the score, they go to CVS or Simeon or Hyde Park—any other high school.”
Then what happened to make Harlan from a premier school with an incredible faculty to one which may be considered a school of last resort?
Harlan’s decline was gradual and, by most accounts, began in the mid-1970s. Middle-class Roseland was growing poorer, and the once integrated neighborhood was rapidly losing white residents. Still, the school attracted its share of good students, veteran teachers recall.

At the time, the alternatives were several vocational schools and two elite technical schools. “Permissive transfers” also allowed students to attend schools where they would improve racial balance. For the most part, though, Chicago public high school students of the ‘70s stayed in their own neighborhoods.

Like many South Side high schools, Harlan was desperately overcrowded. The building was designed to house about 1,300 but enrolled some 3,500 students. Twenty-six mobile units stood out back, teachers recall.

The first blow to Harlan’s reputation came disguised as a blessing. To relieve overcrowding, the district opened two new high schools on the Far South Side, Corliss in 1974 and Julian in 1975. Harlan students were given the option of attending either. They left in droves.
Now we go back to perhaps how Harlan became the school to go to in the first place and then when Corliss and Julian opened, they were new and people wanted to be a part of those schools. Although these days Corliss or even Julian probably aren't considered premier schools themselves. Then again this might have something to do with the sudden exodus of bright students from Harlan in the mid 1970s:
Albert Foster, the district’s recently retired director of school intervention, attended Harlan in its glory days (Class of 1962). A March 1999 visit to the school left him deeply discouraged. For one, the building was in terrible disrepair: missing hall tiles, beat-up desks, plexiglass windows that had grown opaque, broken heating ducts that left classrooms cold.
Former Harlan teacher and school alum Janice Ollarvia, now principal of Fenger High School, thinks students were attracted by superior facilities at the new schools. “Harlan was built when they were tossing schools up, and the quality of the construction wasn’t that good,” she explains. “It soon started to show.”
If you thought "community academy" would you think private school? In fact when I talk about where I went to school that's exactly the response I get, but the reality is:
Magnet schools came next. Whitney Young opened in 1975, became a selective magnet school in 1980 and drew top students from across the city. Then in the early 1980s, the district launched magnet programs to attract students of different races to segregated high schools. Harlan’s neighboring high schools got programs in computer science or communications or literature and history, but Harlan was designated a “community academy” that would stress basic skills.

As fewer top students opted for Harlan during the ‘80s, the school’s Advanced Placement offerings in English, math, history, biology and chemistry dwindled to none, [computer teacher Jack] Oehmen recalls.
Would low-achievers make for students who might do sports teams?
Sports teams suffered, too. “You might think: Give me a school of low-achievers, and I’ll have a heck of a sports team,” Foster remarks. “No you won’t. Those kids don’t go out for sports … don’t go out for clubs. Then your school doesn’t have much in offerings.”

You know I wrote about a classmate's comments on our former principal. The article touched upon this in fact an update on the fate of our former principal, but this article is starting to get long winded so therefore I shall continue this. Don't let me forget now!

We might look at more on the leadership at the school because perhaps in our day it sure needed it. The next question is what's happening at the school now. I explore that more tomorrow!

BTW, the pic of Harlan at night is mine and it's an old pic taken about three or so years ago. The Harlan logo is lifted directly from the Harlan website.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Heh, well I'm late currently I'm hearing a lot of fireworks and I'm no where near Navy Pier. I'm just at home watching The Presidents on History. My holiday is safe I hope your's has been.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Give the US Senate some "balls"

I really had to share this with you:
We're urging you to "Give the Senate Some Balls" by sending a couple of ping-pong balls or golf balls to each of your two U.S. senators.  Decorate them, if you like.  Write a message on them if you want to (keep it clean and respectful). As this movement catches on across the country this will send a louder message than any e-mail or phone call could ever do.  Sure, it may be a little on the indelicate side but it gets the point across.  Imagine when the news media start reporting that balls are pouring in to Senate offices from all over the country.
Here's the why?
The U.S. House has passed the disastrous Cap & Trade bill that will destroy 2.5 regular jobs for every green job it creates.  The Democrats admit that your energy bills are going to rise.  They're just not going to be honest enough with you to tell you how high they're likely to go.  Moody's says your electric bill will rise 15-30 percent.  A Heritage Foundation study says it's more likely going to be around 90 percent.  Whoever's right, Congress has voted to increase your energy costs . . . in the middle of a recession!
To be honest I have no strong feelings on this measure and I know that there are many who do. Obviously this radio guy wouldn't have come up with such a concept. The reason for sending "balls" to our US Senators is to encourage them to "kill" this proposal. Of course what he wants us to do is send these balls to not their offices in Washington, but in their respective states.

Let's just say that I would send my "balls" well ping-pong balls to my Senators Burris and Durbin. Of course here's the practical reason for that:
Since Congress is in recess right now and all mail to the Capitol in Washington is being sent to a holding facility before it's sent to senate offices, we need you to send your balls to your senators' state offices.
Heh, since I have no strong feelings on this cap-and-trade issue this is the primary reason I would sends some "balls" to my US Senators. It would be for their handling of Roland Burris, I and many around the country consider them spineless for allowing our then sitting Governor Rod Blagojevich for scaring them into seating Roland Burris.

Blagojevich, who I often refer to as Ousted governor, was arrested for attempting to "sell" to the highest "bidder" Obama's old US Senate seat. Any possible appointment made by Ousted governor was to have been considered tainted and it was expected that well he may not try to appoint anyone. Then he appointed Roland Burris and the race card was thrown about and suddenly Ousted governor's appointment wasn't so tainted after all.

BTW, I know I'm beating on a dead horse here. Burris isn't going away although in light of federal phone taps released in May one can see that he was attempting garner some favor in being appointed to Obama's vacated Senate seat. It may not have been illegal (well he isn't likely to be charged with perjury), however, it doesn't look good. Even then he's not going to give that seat up and will likely serve out the remaining time that would've been served by our current President Obama for whom this unique protest is indirectly targeted.

Let me also say, that Burris has had a great run in Illinois politics. He is the first black to have ran statewide (for Comptroller & Attorney General) and won. Although near the end of his political career he suffered some losses in particular three failed runs for Governor and one failed run for Mayor of Chicago. If this Senate appointment was to be some last hurrah it's SOME last hurrah and definitely one that isn't befitting of perhaps a significant figure in Illinois history.

The unfortunate thing about Burris is that, he may actually attempt to run to keep his Senate seat and if he can't raise the money or change his favorable numbers he may not even make it out of the primary. Almost like what happened with his three runs for Governor. It's very unfortunate when you think about it.

Well I got that off my chest although hey I should've said that during the firestorm over his wiretaps with Rob Blagojevich, Ousted governor's little brother. That being said that would be my reason for sending some "balls" to my US Senators. Some of you may do it over cap-and-trade.

If you don't mind sharing, if you have any other reasons why you'd give the US Senate some "balls", please leave a comment. I'd like to hear your reasons!

The link to Phil Valentine is via Instapundit!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

I hate to see this

Well this is only an assumption, but I was on the #4 Cottage Grove bus heading north and there was someone using such foul language on the bus and I got the belief that it was used on children. It probably came to me because these little babies were crying. Not knowing what the language means but certainly by the actions of their mother who probably wasn't in a good mood.

When I got off the bus, I saw the mother and she had two children one in her lap another in a carriage. The messed up thing about this was that the mother was sucking her own thumb. I thought, heh, it's no wonder she's still a baby herself. She didn't look that much older she might have been a teenaged mother with two babies already.

I have a theory. She might grow out of it I would hope, but if you curse your children out and you did this consistently with utterly no respect for them then they may not know respect when they grow up. A teacher could tell them to sit down and be as polite as can be, but they wouldn't be able to hear that. You might literally have to scream or curse to keep their attention.

It could be more complicated than that, but I think it could explain perhaps some of my experiences in high school. Short of expelling students or suspending them sometimes polite suggestion isn't key to keeping control of the classroom. At the same time some kids you can talk to politely or without making sure that you use some words that they can relate to.

This should also go on the CTA Tattler! :P

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

An answer to Garafalo on "tea parties" being racist

Heh, I haven't really been following these protests consistently, but I have seen pics of many of these events. Just do a search at Instapundit and pics are provided of tea party events around the nation. We're not talking about merely angry white people upset that a black man is President of the United States, but in a lot of these pics you'll see some black faces.

How many of us are really upset about the spending by the current administration. The various stimulus programs started by this administration and the growing deficit because of it. It leads me to suggest that if we're seeing a black woman represent a tea party movement in Dallas, Texas and others involved in some way around the nation something is really up.

It might shake the notion that blacks are all for Obama. They may not be, but for different reasons. Perhaps Obama doesn't have experience or perhaps he's under someone else's thumb. Perhaps they may genuinely be opposed to his policies. I'm sure someone out there knows the answer or an answer.

Anyway this beautiful young lady invited comedienne Janeane Garafalo to a tea party protest after making the comment that these protestors are ignorant of US history and called them rednecks who are against a black man as President. You know I don't know why anyone would listen to her, she's merely an entertainer who should stick with entertaining. She's not likely to say anything earth shattering that will really get people thinking.

On the other hand it would be something if we were talking about an academic who was saying that. I might look at such a person differently only that I would be surprised that this academic, a professor at a top university, would ever get caught saying such a thing on camera or in front of a microphone.

Anyway this vid's duration is about 4 minutes!