Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Girls outpace boys on tests

In the state of Illinois...
Girls gained the most ground last year, immediately after the state revamped the Illinois Standards Achievement Test. The state made the tests more colorful, gave pupils extra time to finish, added questions with longer reading passages and replaced state-created test items with those pulled from a national bank of questions.

In 3rd-grade reading, the gap between girls and boys, which had hovered between 5 and 6 percentage points for five years, shot up to 8.6 after the changes. On the 4th-grade science exam, girls outpaced boys for the first time in five years.

Those gaps remained relatively static this year, when no changes were made to the state.

If tinkering with the exams caused the shift, it raises questions about the validity of the tests and the decisions that are made based on the test results. Schools are judged -- and can be punished -- according to how well students perform on the exams.

"It's important to recognize that very subtle changes in tests can have quite a significant impact on the relative performance of different groups," said Bob Schaeffer, of FairTest, a non-profit group that monitors the quality and gender-bias in achievement exams. "Because of the judgment calls that go into building exams, there is a fundamental squishiness to the results. You can make one small tinker and unwittingly propel girls, or boys, forward on paper, but not in true achievement levels."

The Tribune analysis was conducted as part of the release of the annual School Report Card data. The Tribune looked at the math, reading, writing and science results on the 3rd- through 8th-grade, and the 11th-grade exams students took in the spring.

The gender gaps, most pronounced among black and Hispanic students, exist at all grade levels and are largest in reading and writing.

On the 8th-grade writing exam, for example, girls scored 18 percentage points higher than boys. In 3rd-grade reading, girls bested boys by nearly 9 percentage points.

In math and science, girls outscored boys anywhere from 0.5 to 3.3 percentage points and, in math, the gap grows wider as students age. By 8th grade, girls were scoring 3.2 percentage points higher than boys.

Some of the differences reverse themselves at high school. Boys continue to outperform girls in math and science on the 11th-grade Prairie State Achievement Exam. Unlike the state elementary school exam, there have been no major changes to the state high school test.

That matches decades of national testing data, which have shown that girls, in general, perform better on reading and writing exams, while boys do better in math and science. This also holds true for Illinois students on national elementary and high school exams.

Some researchers and educators attribute the variations in performance to the differences in the physical makeup of the male and female brains. But there is mounting evidence that the content and structure of achievement exams also plays a role.
My next question about this would boil down to race, and this excerpt I pulled answers that question. That's not to say this is an exclusively a black or Latino problem. There was a story about this on 60 Minutes a few years ago.

The question as always is what can we do about it? That's the question this article - where I pulled the excerpt- from the Tribune seeks to answer.

This has taken my interest in recent days

Well I saw in this video from Wandering West Michigan that one can actually make their own beer. Someone can literally have their own breweries in their own homes and it doesn't require any expensive equipment. All you need are pots and pans and buckets. You might also need the recipe and the necessary ingredients.

Anyway this sparked an interest in seeing if blacks have started their own breweries or at the very least have a microbrewery. It seems that Google hasn't been a great help. I have to look far and wide to find a good website or article on any blacks in the brewing business. To be sure however there are plenty in the business of serving alchohol. Besides all they do down here in Atlanta is promote an event at some club.

Still, why shouldn't a black businessman get into that business. And let's be honest here, unfortunately blacks like to drink. It can be as much of a detriment as it could be anything else.

That reminds me (I imagine that I have to search far and wide for this too). I remember over a decade ago some black ministers were attempting to market this liquor to their communities. Hey why not? Since they know blacks like to drink why not get some of that money into the black community instead of it going elsewhere. At the same time I thought it was messed up.

Think about it, ministers cashing in on the fact that blacks like to drink. I would have thought they would have attempted to discover ways of discouraging it instead of profiting off it. Yes I am referring to their capacities as religious leaders. A person without a cloth or a businessman would probably be better spokesmen than a minister. At I thought so.

So anyway here are links to two articles I have found out there about black-owned breweries.

This first is about what is considered the very first black owned brewery in this country called People's Brewery. It didn't last long because it came at a time when consolidation was the rule of the day and the brewing giants (probably Miller and Budweiser) ruled supreme. Ultimately though the brewery was finished.

The owner's of this brewery didn't just face resistance from white customers...

Mack told the Star, "The Whites are saying that they don't want no n----- beer and I don't know what the Blacks are doing." He balked at accusations that Peoples beer wasn't up to snuff.

As difficult as Indiana was, Mack cited figures that it took only a week in Gary to sell as much Peoples beer as he sold in Milwaukee in a month, and his disappointment was clear.

"Here you have over 100,000 Black people saying we want to do our thing and when you give them this opportunity, they don't respond."
Well this has been a common complaint especially now when black urban communities have been struggling. People complain that blacks refuse to patronize their own neighborhood businesses. There are a few blacks who are obsessed with this, I could even say they came from that era where it was cool to do that. Although I've read things out there about how black business owners could learn a thing or two about customer service.

And here's another article about Black Pride Beer. I've never even heard of them and it's not like I go around looking for beer. It appears that the beer was discontinued in 1972. And this business was close to home based right out of Chicago.

You know I was talking to a friend who thought this product was racist. Well that's going to be another post. I'm gonna have to explain that, at least if it needs one.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The hits keep coming doesn't it.

MyUrbanReport discusses a video made by some white college students mocking the part of the Jena 6 story where the six black teens beat the white teen. It seems they decided to put mud on themselves to simulate blackface and then...
If you listen closely, you can hear one of the students saying, “Niggers put the noose on.” According to TheSmokingGun, the video and pics were posted on freshman nursing student Kristy Smith’s Facebook page. After drawing attention to herself she apparently made her Facebook page private and removed the pics and video. Smith later apologized in other Facebook postings.

County Board members get 27% hike for offices

Interesting how the county seems strapped for cash yet somehow there's money for offices. I could apply this to raises for state official and city alderman. From the Sun-Times...
Enough of the belt-tightening, already -- it's time to spend some money again.

That's what some Cook County Commissioners said Monday in defending what is a 27 percent increase in spending for their offices and new jobs for each one of them.

Board President Todd Stroger is proposing the hikes as part of his 2008 budget, and while some say they won't take it, others say they want it and more.

"I'm not going to cut any staff -- I'm just not going to do it," said Commissioner Earlean Collins, the only commissioner to defy demands last year to cut 17 percent from her office budget.

Commissioner Tim Schneider said he never asked for, nor will he take, the $90,000 in extra salaries Stroger is offering his office, saying the county's "in dire straits" and the board should "keep county government at the most efficient level we can" by giving back extra money.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Blackhawks' home game televised Nov. 11

I just read a report from Crain's...
Comcast SportsNet will televise its first Chicago Blackhawks home game of the season on Nov. 11.

That 6 p.m. game against the Detroit Red Wings is expected to be the first “in a series” of Blackhawks home games the station will broadcast, according to a statement from the team and Comcast SportsNet. The statement didn’t provide details on other home games that Comcast SportsNet would televise.

“We are entering a new era and putting home games back on TV is the first step to supporting our great players and fans,” Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz, son of recently deceased Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz, said in the statement.

The Blackhawks and Comcast SportsNet last week said they were in talks about televising some of the team’s home games this season.

Todd Stroger's misspeak

Gaper's Block said about Todd Stroger that he "apparently doesn't write his own speeches". If I had left it there I'd have just said what politicians write their own speeches at a certain level anymore. Then I followed the link to a post by Tribune Columnist Eric Zorn who said that, "If you can't write your own speeches, at least read them before you deliver them".

In that last sentence I would agree Cook County Board President Todd Stroger should have read his speech before he gave it. It has to do with polish and he definitely didn't show that here.

The Governor and Recall

The Governor of Illinois has been taking hits over the weekend. On Sunday I linked to a Tribune editorial over at Illinoize. Rich Miller touched upon it on his blog today and here's his syndicated column about how Blagojevich is polling around the state. Here's a clip from it...

I've been stuck in this sinkhole of a legislative session all year. I had to drag myself to the Capitol building all spring, all summer and into the fall to watch Blagojevich pick goofy fights with just about everyone under the Statehouse dome. I've waited impatiently for countless hours while the governor met with legislative leaders, only to discover that the talks actually made things worse. I've seethed while almost nothing of any substance was achieved except a pay hike for state officials. I watched in disbelief while the governor complained bitterly about property taxes in his neighborhood and proposed a Cook County-only solution, when I'm paying much more in taxes than he is and for a downstate house worth less than half what his is valued at. I've had to explain to my wife why there would be no summer vacation and that Christmas break was starting to look iffy because the governor was threatening to call another of his innumerable "emergency" special sessions that never accomplish anything.

Then, in late summer, a poll was released that showed the governor's approval ratings were in the Dumpster. In October, two more polls were published with essentially the same results, greatly buttressing those earlier numbers.

A Rasmussen Reports poll taken in mid-October showed that just 5 percent of likely Illinois voters thought Blagojevich was doing an "excellent" job. Another 11 percent said he was doing a "good" job. Most of the rest, 83 percent, said Blagojevich was doing a "fair" or "poor" job.

Illinois Wesleyan University also released an October poll showing Blagojevich's job approval rating at a miserable 23 percent. Those who disapproved totaled 60 percent.

The poll numbers were bad for the governor across every demographic. No region, no gender, no race, no age group, no income level, no philosophical position believes the governor is doing an acceptable job.

Even his own Democrats have turned on him. The Illinois Wesleyan poll found that just 38 percent of likely Democratic voters approve of Blagojevich's job performance, while 41 percent disapprove. A whopping 54 percent of liberals and 65 percent of independents disapprove.

Everybody finally seems to "get" Blagojevich. I'm not exactly sure what attracted their attention in the first place. It could be the gapers-delay effect. Voters may simply have been fascinated by the ugly spectacle of the massive train wreck that is our state government. The governor's proposals, like his gigantic tax hike idea from earlier this year, may have sparked their ire.
Now think about this. Especially what I put in bold. The people he purports to help the most, the poor, the working class. The people for whom his populist style is supposed to appeal to doesn't like him. He is not doing a good job for them.

You know I was talking to an old friend today. He lives in a state next door, a state that is less of a blue state, but more of a red state. I told him about the dynamics of this state. Early in our conversation he called Illinois a welfare state.

Anyway I told him that Illinois maybe a welfare state but our legislature voted against a proposed GRT to pay for universal healthcare. It failed miserably 107-0 in the Illinois House of Representatives. Another iniative of our welfare state was rejected. Of course I said stuff that could be considered without basis if one didn't back it up with facts that support why such and such is a horrible anything.

With some of this information I was able to provide my friend called Blagojevich a lame duck. Now you could say what does this guy know he doesn't live in Illinois. Rest assured however that at least one blogger in the state is calling the Governor a lame-duck. I also told my friend that the Governor doesn't seem to know that yet.

I don't know if a recall provision is going to be here soon enough. But a few things could happen between now and 2011. He can resign, be indicted, he decides not to run for a third term or he's utterly defeated for re-election. Who knows apparently though people paying attention to the state of politics in Illinois are a little exhausted.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I haven't really kept up with the Nailah Franklin beat

Especially since her body was found earlier this month. Mary Mitchell's column today talk about the man who's linked in the Chicago Police investigation of her murder...
Reginald Potts Jr., the 30-year-old Chicago man whose name has been linked to the Chicago Police Department's investigation into the death of Nailah Franklin, knows his life is messy.

His criminal past includes car theft and escaping from FBI custody. He's separated from his wife and two children, and has a 4-month-old daughter with another woman. Both women have been granted orders of protection for run-ins revolving around child visitation.

At the same time, he was living the single life.

Quite a mess. But that doesn't mean he should be suspected of murder, he says.

"I may talk a lot of s - - - -- pardon my language -- but me putting my hands on somebody isn't really happening.

"Making somebody disappear -- having something to do with their abduction -- having something to do with a murder, that's kind of extreme. That is a huge leap," Potts told me during a three-hour exclusive interview.

Potts has not been charged with the murder of Franklin, a pharmaceutical representative from Chicago whose body was found in a wooded area of Calumet City on Sept. 27. Nor have investigators named him as a person of interest or a suspect. But his name was linked to the Franklin case when he was arrested for an unrelated matter two weeks ago. A BP security guard at a station near his home accused Potts of threatening him.

Critters not city's problem anymore

Roger's Park Rake got to talking about this Sun-Times article saying...
Is it any wonder that Chicago has gone so long with no recycling program to speak of, or that, despite Daley's loud pronouncements, we're one of the worst cities on the green scale? The Sun-Times found, not one but three aldermen ready to declare at least a verbal war on wildlife.

How about, they're harmless, properly secure your garbage (like you should from rats anyway), and live and let live? I didn't even grow up way out in the wilderness, but unless you grow up completely isolated from anything approaching nature, you learn that these animals are harmless. It takes real ignorance (not to mention deeply-ingrained entitlement) to think that you have to bring in a SWAT team to deal with a possum.

There's a sadder side to this. The perception is that these inconvenient animals have invaded "our" territory. The nicest thing I can say about that is that it's incomplete. Our constant process of chopping down forests and dividing increasingly smaller squares of land with larger swathes of pavement that crisscross every wilderness for hundreds of miles, to a greater or lesser degree. I suppose we could view the entirety of the world as "our" territory. I just don't think it's a good approach. It's a question of values - values that are right at the surface of complaining that a 12-pound possum was "scary."

Some people are still stuck in the 1950s, with the desire to kill all that is even momentarily inconvenient. That approach is killing the planet. There's another way to live, one that accepts the presence of nature around us. Sometimes, you forget how many people haven't advanced from the 1950s. Then, they pop up again.

Nature happens. Get over it.
Here's what the article says...
Chicago homeowners will have to fend for themselves when it comes to getting rid of the opossums, raccoons, bats and feral cats invading their backyards and rummaging through their garbage.

Unless the critter is in your home or is responsible for a bite, the Commission on Animal Care and Control is no longer making house calls to deliver animal traps.

The change that will force Chicagoans to call a private wildlife service was a concession to reality, executive director Anne Kent said Friday during City Council budget hearings.

With 146 animal traps and 13,000 annual requests to set them, there was simply no way to respond in a timely fashion. Not with 30 animal control officers who also respond to more serious requests, including dangerous dogs, bites and mistreatment of animals.

"If it is attacking somebody -- whether it's your dog, a citizen or a child or if it's around a school -- obviously we'll use our judgment to assist you. . . . A raccoon in a yard is not a priority," Kent said.
During budget hearings a year ago, aldermen complained about the two-month wait for traps. They were told Animal Care was planning to distribute 300 traps to ward superintendents and residents could pick them up -- with directions on how to use them -- instead of waiting for traps to be delivered.

Now the service is ending for backyard critters. After checking other major cities, Kent made no apologies. "We were the only ones in the wildlife trap business," she said.
A sign of the times. This is obviously a cut-back. And why not? Appaprently other major cities aren't in the trapping business.

I could look at this like privitization. Except that Chicago city government doesn't appear to be offering contracts for trapping wild animals in resident's backyard. So perhaps no one should gripe too much call a good pest control company and they'll get to you faster than the city of Chicago would.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Daley has big plans for City Colleges

I wonder how he's going to pull of another Kennedy King. There are some colleges that needs it more like say Olive-Harvey and that's one place that doesn't need to be isolated. Then there's Daley College where you're likely to need a car to get to class there. Harold Washington College doesn't need it because they're in a very good location in Downtown although perhaps they could use a gym or a park or something. From the Sun-Times...
Mayor Daley said Wednesday he wants to duplicate at all seven City Colleges the showcase campus that cost $254 million to build at Kennedy-King.

It might sound strange for a mayor who's preparing to sock it to Chicago taxpayers with $293 million in higher taxes, fines and fees. But if the General Assembly ever gets around to authorizing a Chicago casino; if the city ever privatizes Midway Airport and Chicago parking meters -- the mayor knows what he wants to do with the gravy train of new revenue.

"The example was the dedication of the Kennedy-King [College] -- a real campus for the first time. Our goals and our dreams and the vision is to really build campuses like that. ... That campus reflects the future, I believe, of every City College in Chicago," Daley told a news conference held to showcase a new hospitality training program at Harold Washington College.

"When you look at the old Kennedy-King, it was really one major building. What you're doing is the campus effect. It's a college. That alone has changed the whole feeling of Englewood -- the whole South Side. ... The excitement that both the staff has and the students have -- it's just reinvigorated everyone."

The mayor's vision was music to the ears of City Colleges Chancellor Wayne Watson. "Taking community colleges and making them into campuses changes the culture of the educational setting. It allows students to see" all possibilities, he said.

High court frees man in consensual sex case

From the Sun-Times. I wonder if Georgia is really uptight or the prosecution can just be overzealous...
A former high school football star given 10 years in prison for having consensual oral sex with another teen was freed Friday by Georgia's highest court, which ruled his sentence amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

Genarlow Wilson's case led to widespread protests of racism and heavy handed justice. Wilson and the girl -- both black -- were only two years apart.

''I was in total disbelief,'' Wilson told reporters outside the prison. ''I'm finally happy to see we've got justice now.''

Wilson, 21, offered advice to other teens: ''They should be very hesitant before they join certain crowds and make certain decisions.''

In its 4-3 decision, the Georgia Supreme Court noted that state lawmakers later scrapped the law that required a minimum 10-year prison term.

That change, the court said, represented ''a seismic shift in the legislature's view of the gravity of oral sex between two willing teenage participants.''

The justices also said Wilson's sentence made ''no measurable contribution to acceptable goals of punishment,'' and his crime did not rise to the ''level of adults who prey on children.''

Wilson, a former honor student and homecoming king, was convicted of aggravated child molestation after a 2003 New Year's Eve party in a hotel room where he was videotaped having oral sex with a 15-year-old girl.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Ald. Howard Brookins is on Public Affairs

Well many of you have probably seen this episode already, however, if you haven't you can watch this episode here.

He is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Cook County State's Attorney. A position that will have a new person filling the role since the incumbent Richard Devine is not running for re-election. Brookins has a website for this campaign here. It should be noted that Brookins is also an alderman of the 21st Ward on the south side of Chicago.

ADDITION: I'm liking his position on allowing citizen to have guns. He mentions his position in this Public Affairs video. He doesn't want to go the route of Concealed Carry, yet. I can at least say he isn't on the gun control bandwagon.

EXTRA-ADDITION: I'm watching one of Brookins' rivals for the State's Attorney race Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin on an episode of Public Affairs. His positions on guns are in contrast to Ald. Brookins. He wants to pass more gun control laws. He wants guns off the street and he points to the Englewood neighborhood as an example. Englewood being the neighborhood that has lost many to gun violence.

He knows people gets shot in the ghetto, but I think he's wrong on the idea that removing guns are the only way to make Englewood or any other community in Cook County safer. It seems very typical and knee-jerk of a good number of politicians. Even worse I don't think he trusts the people to be responsible with fire-arms. I don't think that's safe.

Can someone tell me something?

Can a seven-year-old child concieve of suicide? I'd really like to know because I can't believe that I could conceive of killing myself at that age. What happened?

Reason for this thought from

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What about the other Chicago area transit agencies

The CTA gets more press with regards to the whole transit situation playing out in Springfield as lawmakers there continue to hammer out a budget. Now they're trying to figure out how to fund the CTA, Metra and Pace. We about know how the CTA will fare. What about Metra.?

From Crain's...

Metra riders could face 10% fare hikes or the loss of Sunday service next year under budgets proposed Thursday by the commuter rail system’s top official.

Under one proposal, Metra would raise all-day weekend fares to $7 from $5 along with the 10% fare hike, Executive Director Philip Pagano said at special Metra board meeting.

Under the other proposal, fares would jump 5% and Sunday service would be eliminated, while all-day fares on Saturday would increase to $7 from $5.

In both scenarios, Metra commuters would face dirtier trains as the agency would cut some janitorial services as well as 100 administrative positions. Additionally, both budgets call for 10% fare hikes in 2009 and 2010.

In adopting either proposal, Metra would “head back to the dismal days of 1983,” when the commuter rail line was “an economic and service disaster,” Mr. Pagano said.

Ever since the whole Jena 6 story broke out...

I've seen nothing but stories about the liberal uses of nooses directed towards blacks and not just because they say under the "white people" tree, but we see this in the workplace and all that. The school district in Jena, LA might have seen this done by a bunch of high school kids as nothing more than a prank and in that regards I could deride them as a bit out of touch. In other situations I can see this as these people know exactly what they are doing in display a noose.

The State of discusses a plan by the Rev. Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III wants to organize a march on Washington with regards to these recent noose stories. I'm leaving some of their snide comments intact. Hopefully you'll either laugh or think about what is said...

"Several African-American leaders, including the Rev. Al Sharpton (does this guy have the market cornered or what?) and Martin Luther King III (nice name, but do something else to make yourself relevant, like get married and have kids), are expected to gather in Atlanta on Tuesday morning to announce a march on Washington, D.C., to demand that federal authorities intervene in the "huge outbreak" of hate crimes nationwide."

"In the history of the civil rights movements, we have often had to appeal to the federal government to intervene. That was certainly the case during my father's era of leadership," King said Monday night. "[The march next month] is an appeal to the federal government to do something about the crimes, such as the nooses that seem to be popping up all over the nation."
The rest of the post argues that the current crop of "black leadership" is doing nothing more than seeking to recreate the 1960s. I suppose this is something that Rush Limbaugh would refer to as "playing from an old playbook".

Anyway here are some stories that I have found overtime about these "harmless" nooses.

Nooses: When Retro Goes too Far by Jack & Jill Politics
Hangman's Noose Found on NYC Prof's Door from
Nooses from a Black Perspective by IllinoisReview

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Two posts about the governor of Illinois

I really want to know why Illinois was more willing to return this man to the governorship than Judy Baar Topinka. I'm sure some may have thought she wasn't much better but this man was destined for disaster. We're looking at it right now.

Check out this info from The Capitol Fax Blog. Governor Rod Blagojevich is doing much worse pollwise than President Bush. People even bring up the fact that Illinois is said to be a blue state. A Democratic controlled state and the governor is woe-fully unpopular.

ArchPundit is saying that the Governor has lost to his rival Michael J. Madigan, Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives...
All Madigan has to do is sit, avoid headlines, and he, or his daughter, will be around far longer than the guy there now. The thing Jones needs to seriously think about is whether he wants anyone in his caucus tied to this guy. While I think that relationship is far more tenuous than those that claim it’s the defining issue in Illinois, Jones gets nothing out of this relationship besides headaches.

George Bush, probably the President who has sustained low poll numbers longer than anyone else is twice as popular as a Democratic Governor in a blue state. And we haven’t even had any good indictments lately.
ArchPundit probably saw these numbers and in that post he declared these numbers Nixonian. I know people were hoping for an indictment so that Lt. Gov. Quinn could become governor but I see a much better solution. Perhaps the Governor could finally realize he's ineffective and resign. His political prospects may never go back up but at least he can save face.

BTW, I also wanted to post comments on the Governor's unpopularity from the Illinois Reason blog...
Don’t get me wrong, Blago wasn’t terribly popular when his current term began. He won re-election with less than 50% of the vote. But he has dropped to 16%. 6 point drop in one two months.

I’ve complained about this Governor quite often in the past. I’ve never really liked him. One of the first things he did upon entering office was cut funding for higher education (with my Alma Mater taking the biggest hit, I believe (UIUC)). Coincidentally, UIUC’s tuition has risen astronomically since Blago became governor.

But his handling of the budget situation and the RTA problem has been absurdly awful. He issues fiats saying this is what’s going to happen and takes everyone by surprise. Then he complains when the legislature won’t play ball. He fights Mike Madigan at every opportunity, no matter how ridiculous. He is willing to risk sinking the economy in Northeastern Illinois so that he can abide by a campaign pledge.

At this point, it’s all about the Governor’s ego. He has to beat Madigan at something. I never thought I would see the day where Madigan looked like the good guy. Well, that day is here. Mike Madigan is the good guy in Springfield. It’s time for the Governor to govern, not fight with the Speaker.

Governor, you will never win another election in this State. This approval rating should show you that. Give it up. You lost. It’s over. You are now a lame duck.

You are almost as unpopular as Dick Cheney, sir. Twice as many people in this state think George Bush is doing a good job than think you are doing a good job. Those 16%? They are on your payroll.
BTW, he mentions another Capitol Fax Blog post about the Governor's new plan for the Chicago Transit Authority and it's sister transit agencies in the Chicago area. He's pulling something else out of his A double-crooked letter. The post is aptly titled, The mystery meat may not even be meat.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ward Connerly on

You can see part one of this interview on and part two is said to be coming tomorrow. If you're somehow not familiar with him here's a little background...

Last week, I sat down with Ward Connerly, the controversial founder and chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute, a national non-profit organization created to oppose racial and gender preference, commonly known as affirmative action.

In 1996, Connerly was instrumental in getting Proposition 209 passed in California. The controversial initiative amended the state's constitution to prohibit public institutions, such as universities, from taking race or gender into consideration in hiring or admissions.

Connerly has now come to Missouri. He has been brought in to be the spokesman for a group based out of Grain Valley, Missouri which is organizing to get an initiative passed next year which is very similar to the passed in California.

BET Racist Against Black People?

Local conservative activist Dan Proft has a commentary about how BET compares the Jena 6 to the Little Rock 9...

If the Aryan Nation plotted to develop a media property designed to denigrate and destroy black culture, could they do a better job than Black Entertainment Television (BET)?

This question occurred to me after learning that BET executives invited two of the "Jena Six" to present the award for Best Hip-Hop Video last week at their annual hip-hop music awards.

The answer ossified into the indisputable after hearing one of BET's newsreaders actually compare the Jena Six to the "Little Rock Nine" from a half century earlier.

Let's explore this comparison.

In Little Rock in 1957, nine black students were systematically victimized by unprovoked attacks for seeking out an education.

In Jena in 2007, six black students committed an unprovoked assault against one of their white classmates ostensibly in response to three other, unrelated white students who had hung nooses from a tree on the grounds of the high school.

In Little Rock in 1957, nine black students endured state-sponsored racism and the torments of their white classmates while coming to symbolize the end of the disgraceful "separate but equal" era in this country in the process.

In Jena in 2007, the white students responsible for hanging the nooses were suspended by the school board and referred to the Office of U.S. Attorney Donald Washington, an African-American gentleman, for hate crimes prosecution.

In Little Rock in 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower intervened to protect the students, enforce desegregation, and uphold the principle that all are to be treated equally under the law.

In Jena in 2007, Al Sharpton intervened to do exactly the opposite, advocating essentially that the law may be disregarded if one has a racial grievance.

Nine students who held fast against institutional racism in the name of racial empowerment and individual enfranchisement versus six students for which the contended moral imperative is that they be charged with the lesser included offenses.

The courage of the students in Little Rock is blasphemed by BET's comparison.

Springfield to comemmorate the 1908 race riots

From the State Journal-Register...
Mayor Tim Davlin said today that he will appoint a commission to coordinate the commemoration of the 1908 race riots in Springfield.

Davlin, speaking at his annual prayer breakfast this morning at the Hilton Springfield, named Beverly Peters as chairman of the commission.

The August 1908 riots resulted in three blacks, including a 3-year-old child, and four whites dying during two days of violence. Forty black-owned homes and 15 black and Jewish-owned businesses were destroyed. The riots occurred in a seven-by-eight-block area downtown.
Of course if you need more information look no further than this post I wrote over the summer that links to a presentation from the Illinois Channel.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Home games in Hawks TV future

I understand that maybe the late William Wirtz was old school and I can even respect in some respect why he decided to take Blackhawks home games off TV. What I don't understand is why he countinued this policy when it was turning in a disastrous one. As I hope under a new stewart that policy is gonna change. From the Tribune...
The Chicago Blackhawks are in talks with Comcast SportsNet to begin televising home games, perhaps as early as this season.

In a memo to the Blackhawks staff, new chairman Rocky Wirtz said that the Blackhawks met with Comcast SportsNet executives last week "to begin discussions about getting some home games back on television this hockey season.''

"It's important to understand that CSN's current schedule was developed well over a year ago, so fitting the Hawks into that schedule can't be done overnight,'' Wirtz wrote in the memo. "But it can be done, and, while no definitive agreements have been reached, we are convinced that it is the appropriate next step to re-energizing Chicago hockey fans, and creating new fans. We are also working on a long-term strategy for televising additional home games in the future.''

A old case of a missing person in Chicago with statistics

This Sun-Times article talks about another missing person in a case that occured over four years ago. I want to emphasize some of the statistics in this article. I do however expect you to read the rest of this story.

It's a sad fact that it's not that unusual for someone to vanish in Chicago. Chicago Police Department files are packed with missing-person cases -- kids, mostly, but also a growing number of adults.

Of the 20,000-plus people reported missing in Chicago last year, about 8,000 were 17 or older -- 40 percent of the total, up from 35 percent in 2000.

The figures are inching upward nationally, too. Last year, 169,447 adult missing-person cases were logged nationwide, up from 144,209 a decade ago.

Whether the actual number of missing adults is rising isn't clear. The increase might be due in part to better reporting and federal efforts that have spurred more police departments to take a report when anyone says a person they know is missing.

But when it comes to missing adults, law enforcement is severely lacking, critics say, with police opting to put their resources into the very young, very old, and those deemed "endangered."

There's logic to that thinking, the police figure: Adults have a right to disappear; most of the time when they're missing, it's of their own accord, and they almost always turn up fine. Indeed, 98 percent of such cases in Chicago end up "cleared" by police.

But often the authorities here are dismissive at first of what turn out to be legitimate cases of missing adults, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation found, potentially jeopardizing the safe return of victims and adding to the pain their families feel.
Regardless, a Sun-Times analysis of FBI data found that blacks account for a disproportionate number of the missing -- 32 percent last year, compared with a 12.8 percent representation in the U.S. population. A decade ago, they were at 24 percent, the newspaper's analysis shows.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

State-run universal health care

Thru Instapundit from The Atlantic's Megan McArdle.

It discusses the popular subject of universal or single-payer health care. Especially the varieties run by the states. It even provides one more state example for the program called TennCare in Tennessee.

The only reason I post this was that this post reminds me of Illinois Covered. One of Gov. Blagojevich's attempts to build a universal health care program in the state. I wonder if that program could run into the same problems discussed here.

My 2 cents is that right now this seems to be a somewhat popular fix although there is information out there that suggests otherwise. If the problem with health care is rising costs, then why not address that instead of creating another expensive health care program. Politicians may claim this will address the issue of rising costs I just wonder if it could do nothing more than jack up costs more.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Today's homecoming game...

I was informed that the Maroon Tigers beat the Clark Atlanta Panthers 22-13 today so this was a victorious homecoming.


My next stop is going to be the step show. I may hang there but I'm feeling the effects of the alchohol right now. I didn't drink a lot but I find myself getting a taste of the hard stuff. The type of liquor I like to avoid although many of the homecoming tents do attempt to water that liquor down with juice.

Anyway I didn't get to go to the game and when I did check the score at half-time CAU was leading Morehouse. I'll have to get back to you to see who won. I guess I'm not a big fan of the Morehouse College Maroon Tigers.

I did get to see plenty of old friends. One of whom thickened up a bit but that just means he's doing alright and he's eating plenty. Some I'm dissapointed that I didn't see today but that's OK I got their number.

I wish I had pictures but like I said already I left my point and shoot camera at home and my attempts to have it sent to me failed. So no pics unfortunately, but not a bad day at all.

Friday, October 19, 2007

In or out, Mr. Congressman?

Mike Dumke from Clout City takes aim at Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. and perhaps I can consider this piece a sort of call to action. Especially for someone who's speculated as being interested in the mayor's job and talks a good game, but doesn't go forward. As a result he's forced to use his research as he seeks Chicago's mayoralty and write an op/ed in the Chicago Tribune to oppose the mayor he could have faced this past February who is attempting to institute some tax hikes in the city of Chicago.

To be perfectly honest, I have come to the conclusion that Rep. Jackson has some socialist tendencies. I wouldn't put it past Mr. Jackson that he'd have proposed some taxes like these. Of course instead of having to plug up budget deficits as Daley is doing right now I'm sure he would have put this new revenue into the public schools and health services and perhaps other projects Jackson could have in mine. Still I wonder if there would be rumblings on the City Council or even amongst city residents as there appear to be right now.

You know if only the Congressman has a crystal ball, and who knows he probably could have seen this a mile away, it would have been nice if he went after Daley on it. On the other hand if I had seen this a mile away, I wouldn't have faced Daley and let the mayor suffer this painful proposal. Hey if it was me at least I wouldn't have to make the tough choices of raising taxes and then facing the wrath. In another few years I can always come in and say that I'll save the day taxpayers.

Anyway read on. If you've got an opinion speak on it.

Put this in the stupid statement column

Obama wants someone fired in the Justice Department's voting rights division because this person said something stupid. Let's see what it is...

Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama said Friday the head of the Justice Department's voting rights division should be fired for saying voter ID laws hurt the elderly but aren't a problem for minorities because they often die before old age.

John Tanner's remarks came during an Oct. 5 panel discussion on minority voters before the National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles. Tanner addressed state laws that require photo identification for voting, saying that elderly voters disproportionately don't have the proper IDs.

"That's a shame, you know, creating problems for elderly persons just is not good under any circumstance," Tanner said, according to video posted on YouTube. "Of course, that also ties into the racial aspect because our society is such that minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first.

"There are inequities in health care. There are a variety of inequities in this country, and so anything that disproportionately impacts the elderly has the opposite impact on minorities. Just the math is such as that," Tanner said.
Yeah not a very smart statement to make. I imagine that he was going by statistics but I wonder what the real world says. He might be surprised to find out that there are quite a few elderly minority people out there. Perhaps if he leaves his government offices every now and then he'd know that.


Last year I had pictures. This year I left my camera at home. So all I have right now is the written word.

I want to mention something. Last year's homecoming maybe just a few minutes before homecoming I was walking alongside a famous Morehouse alumnus. He's made these wonderful movies over the years.

Such films as Malcolm X, Do the Right Thing, School Daze, Mo Better Blues, Get on the Bus, and more recently Inside Man. And yes I am talking about Spike Lee and no I didn't even say hello. I don't know how to act around celebrities and they may not want attention. Beside how do I know what's going on in their state of mind. So I ran into one of my favorite movie producers and directors. If I had a pen and paper an autograph would have been requested assuming I didn't have to pay for it.

Anyway I might go to coronation tonight for Miss Maroon & White or Miss Morehouse College. Yes I suppose we have queens too since you know Morehouse is an all-male school. Last night was Miss Spelman College's coronation and I went to that last year, this year I left after a few minutes because I wasn't feelin it. Let me just tell you that Spelman has a beautiful campus, you should look at my Flickr AUC slideshow, where you will see pictures from Morehouse, Spelman, Clark-Atlanta University and Morris Brown College.

BTW, did I mention that Spelman college is an all-female school. So it's somewhat fitting that not only do they have a Miss Spelman college but they also have a Mr. Blue and White. Just as Morehouse has a Ms. Maroon and White.

Anyway the game is tomorrow where I hear we're playing Clark Atlanta University. We'll see how that goes, but what's great is to see the alumni and all the Greeks (you know the AKAs, Alphas, Sigmas, Kappas, Deltas, Zetas, & Iotas . Absolutely no disrepect to those orgs I've not listed it's only because I've not seen much of a presence here for you).

There's a huge tailgate before the game. It almost seems to be corporatized because the last two years Chevrolet represented at the homecoming. And they're certainly not the only ones. All the same there's a big party going on there.

Anyway I'm just giving you the flavor of what goes on down here at a HBCU. Perhaps you might wanna visit one day even if you don't personally know anybody here or at least anybody who has gone to school in these parts.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cops shut down West Pullman drug market

Another story from the far south side, in the West Pullman neighborhood. Last week there was a brief strike at Roseland Hospital. The Tribune has the story...
Five people who are alleged to be gang members are in custody and an additional four are wanted on criminal drug conspiracy and possession charges after Chicago police said they shut down an open-air drug market in the West Pullman neighborhood on the Far South Side.

Police said they recovered more than 400 grams of crack cocaine, more than 100 grams of cannabis and nearly $4,000 during the operation, dubbed "Operation Blood Root."

Police said drug sales took place in the blocks bordered by West 116th and 119th Streets, and South State and Wentworth Streets, in an area that police say is known to be controlled by the Black Disciples street gang and has been site of 23 shootings and two homicides this year.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Gary Charter School Fights for Space

Actually I just saved this story in my links. It deserves some play here though.

So I want to attack a point that was made here that Gary, Indiana a struggling city doesn't seem to want to work with charter school such as the one we hear about here....

Back in May, a KIPP school in Annapolis, Maryland, had to close its doors because it couldn’t find a bigger space. KIPP says it’s determined to avoid the same fate in Gary. But the Gary district doesn’t seem to want to help out. The school has tried to purchase one of the district’s abandoned buildings. But the Gary school board was prohibited from selling to competitors. This summer, though, that changed. The state legislature passed a new law. It said districts could not keep charters from buying their buildings. But Goble says shortly after that, the Gary district took all their vacant facilities off the market. Why the resistence to charters?

ROSE: They pull a significant amount of students out of the public schools.

Lowell Rose is an Indiana educational consultant.

ROSE: And every kid that they take out..takes with the kid, to the charter school, the dollar amounts of state support and local support that would have otherwise gone to the Gary public schools.
So these students that they've failed to teach, especially the one I heard at the beginning talking about how the teachers in his Gary public school just gave up on him, represents nothing more than revenue. And that reminds me, isn't this something that's been talked about as reform for our public schools? To allow the money to follow the students instead of remaining with the public school district?

I didn't notice the answer of that educational consultant when I listened this report, but I was about to conjure up another answer. My answer to the hostility towards the charter school in Gary was a certain amount of jealousy. Such as how dare this upstart school do better than us. Well we have no way of knowing that do we.

Anyway I got this from the District 299 blog, they cover the Chicago Public Schools. I've been reading that blog for a while now and I even got them on my blogroll. If you want to know where District 299 came from well I guess that the CPS' district number. These schools districts in this state have numbers. And that's probably everywhere.

Of course I want to point out a couple of other education stories out there.

From the Capitol Fax Blog about the difficulty of removing problem teachers.

And Bill Baar's West Side chimes in on a public high school to be run by the US Marine Corps. I imagine there'd be more resistance to that since the Marines are a military organization but like doing a charter school you gotta do something to help these kids learn something. Furthermore this is a way to take back control of the classroom as well.

Jesse Jackson Jr. talks about the proposed city budget...

Hmm at this moment I'm still not sure if I want him to be my mayor but it's great to see that he's chiming in. Perhaps the more people speak out against the raised taxes in this budget the more likely that there might be some compromises. The compromise being that perhaps the tax bite won't be so high. Anyway here's some of what Rep. Jackson says...
Attention taxpayers: Chicago isn't broke. City officials simply refuse to cut waste, fraud and corruption. Instead, they want to forward the inflated bills to you.

Mayor Richard Daley's proposed 2008 budget includes many unsavory morsels. Rather than comply with a federal court decree prohibiting patronage, the city budgets half a million to defend its inevitable violations. Rather than fund the independent inspector general's office to root out corruption, the mayor seeks $2.5 million to create his own internal "Office of Compliance," which predictably will expose about as much corruption in City Hall as the notoriously inept Office of Professional Standards uncovers in the Chicago Police Department.

Rather than close the gap that allows insurance companies to avoid paying a business "head tax," the city continues the special exemption.

Rather than leveling the taxes paid by utility companies, the city extends a policy that allows one company to pay a fraction of what another pays.

It's just $293 million, Daley is telling taxpayers about his proposed new taxes and fees.

The city's latest tax push, called by some a "Corruption, Waste and Mismanagement Tax" or a "Lazy Bureaucracy Tax," is compounded because it coincides with similarly huge tax hikes proposed by Cook County and state government.

It seems as if Daley, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger and Gov. Rod Blagojevich are in a race to see who can raise your taxes the highest.

The city's "corruption tax" is something I tried to calculate when I was exploring a run for mayor in 2006. While an exact figure is impossible to pinpoint, I conservatively estimated that the tax exceeded $1.5 billion in recent years -- including $300 million for the do-nothing hired truckers; $500 million for illegal hiring under the Shakman decree; well over $100 million in fraudulent "minority" contracts to white-owned businessmen; and at least $25 million in legal fees and settlements for police torture cases. And that's just scratching the surface.

I oppose new city taxes, and I urge the City Council to do so as well.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Story from Milwaukee's Bronzeville

I've been attempting to find some information on this place for a while. Hopefully I'll present a report on some of my findings soon. What I can tell you about this place is that just like in Chicago, blacks had a neighborhood similar to our Bronzeville or Black Metropolis.

Here's a story about some brothers who are starting business in a newly revitalized Bronzeville neighborhood in Milwaukee. This was among some of the links I have compiled looking up thins abou tthis neighborhood.

Of course Milwaukee's Bronzeville fell on hard times because blacks started to spead out. In the case of Milaukee the heart of the neighborhood was destroyed by progress. That is a street was destroyed in favor of an expressway. If you look at some of the historically black neighborhoods around the country I know of another black community destroyed by the construction of an expressway.

Well there might be more on that when I finish my casual research on this subject. For now take a look at that story.

This is interesting

Capitol Fax Blog comments on city tax stories. Hugh in the comments provides links and a basic gist of some comments made by west side Alderman Denise Dixon.

Speaking of goofy quotes, listen to frosh Alderman Denise Dixon (24th) 2nd round question. She’s identified a major revenue leak in her west-side ward: the City sells land to churches for a dollar, then the churches don’t do anything with it! She’d like to get the property tax base working for us, but the City has sold all the undeveloped land in her ward to churches. Can’t something be done?

Seems like a hard way to get to $300M for next year.

We’re in good hands.
Aldertrack has audio from the budget hearing on Oct 15th and you can hear Ald. Dixon's comments if you don't believe the paraphrasing here.

I don't have a problem with the churches but Dixon brings up a valid point. Surely many of us have heard about this program where the city provides churches with land at just about $1. This might be problematic in those areas with vacant land. Especially if you can use the revunue that could be provided by residential or commercial businesses instead of a non-profit.

Aldermen: We won't back Daley's tax plan

Hey I got a new idea and it came from this article with great credit to the Capitol Fax Blog for pulling out a great excerpt from the article this morning.

Ever heard of the Boston Tea party were as a result of some taxes on tea American colonists in Boston decided to take some action into their own hands. They decided to throw tea shipped or sold by the British East India Company right into Boston Harbor. The tea tax they were protesting on the evening of December 16th, 1773 were seen by the Bostonians as a way for the British to quash their freedoms.

Anyway let get to 2007, an Alderman got an angry email from a resident and it led to me to an interesting conclusion...

Ald. George Cardenas (12th) said he got an e-mail from an angry constituent who warned him to "get your hands out of my pocket, you stooge."
Now that my friends is interesting because I started to wonder if this individual has been watching too much Malcolm X. There was this scene towards the end of the film (directed my Morehouse College alumni Spike Lee) where Malcolm returns from his pilgrimmage to Mecca where to converted to Sunni Islam. He was at a press conference when someone yelled out of nowhere, "Get your hands out of my pocket!" It was yelled again just before Malcolm was shot.

I'm just giving you the plot points of a great movie that I like to watch just about every black history month. I want to get back to the article though, I don't want people to be too distracted by the film. Though I hope you do watch when you get the first chance.

Let me just say if you read this article, you're hearing the rumblings of the aldermen who don't know if they're with Mayor Daley on this tax increase he proposed last week. If this was any other time in the city of Chicago this could fly but now that Daley swagger may not do the job it had for years. Maybe this city council won't rubber stamp this, however, I hope for the mayor's sake that this won't turn into the drama that we've seen in Springfield for most of the summer. That is gridlock and a certain amount of humiliation because he would be unwilling to compromise.

Anyway here are some of the comments by some of the Aldermen...
"If this budget would pass right now with all these taxes, I suspect that probably half of the people who voted for it would not be in this Council next time around because this one has eyes. It's going to walk all over the place," said Ald. Ed Smith (28th), former chairman of the City Council's Black Caucus.
Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) was so desperate for a way out of raising property taxes, he proposed raiding the long-term reserve fund created to shore up the city's bond rating after the $1.83 billion deal that privatized the Chicago Skyway.
When Johnson warned that the fund was for "major emergencies like catastrophes," Mell said, "If you talk to some of the people I've been talking to -- to them, this is a catastrophe."

Ald. Pat Levar (45th), normally one of Daley's most reliable City Council votes, added: "This is my 21st budget. I've never been bombarded in my office as I have in the past four or five days about property taxes. ... We need to find other sources."

Levar also took a strong stand against Daley's $13.1 million plan to add 8 cents to the cost of a six-pack of beer, 7 cents to a bottle of wine and 24 cents to a liter of hard liquor.

Former Ald. Terry Gabinski (32nd), who sat through Monday's hearing, is a lobbyist for Anheuser-Busch.
Whenever people talk about tax increases people will invoke the memory of the Boston Tea Party. Now there's a new thing called telling tax revenue hungry politicians to get their hands out of your pockets or pocketbooks or wallets. Hmm that has got to be the new thing in protesting taxes. That's the idea.

Monday, October 15, 2007

How about some Rich Miller today

Rich Miller's syndicated column. If you don't know already he has this newsletter and blog that covers politics in Illinois. This column you can find in the Daily Southtown among other places.

Anyway today's column talks about goofiness downstate. He really goes after the governor, but he also has other people to go after. Like Sen. Bill Brady, who wants to be governor in 4 years. Then there's Senate President Emil Jones. Then there's aspiring congressional candidate Sen. Chris Lauzen. Then there's Speaker Michael J. Madigan who though he may be a part of this circut down there, I do see him as the only true adult in the state capitol. I hate to say that too.

Anyway I want to get at Blagojevich for a minute. Back in August he was doing a line-item veto on the budget passed by the legislature. His line-item vetoes were seen as political in nature as he directed those vetoes against those who opposed him and those whose support he needed. He needed the State Senate so he didn't cut many of those funds that was directed towards them. He was apparently selective in the house because he needed some support from there as well.

So then Miller makes the following observation...
A couple of weeks ago, Blagojevich announced he was using some of the money he vetoed from the budget to pay for free mammograms for Illinois women. The money really wasn't coming from the vetoes, which I've already told you before, and there already is lots of money for mammograms in the state budget.

What I didn't tell you before was that Blagojevich actually vetoed a $40,000 appropriation to a group called Sisters Embracing Life. The money was supposed to be used to provide breast exams for minority women. Perfect.
OK after that last paragraph I haven't decided if I should be upset or cynical. I wonder how well he did amongst blacks for re-election last year.

Oh well I can just say this is all politics. It's unfortunate that these funds just so happen to be a victim while this governor talks about how he wants to help give women free mammograms.

Gun control may give Burns a 2nd chance

I'm certainly behind the curve on this one. I haven't read a Laura Washington column for a while and I regret that I did see this column for last week.

So what is it about?

Well it's mostly a column about an aspiring politician seeking a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives. And it looks like he's facing a nice primary contest against an incumbent Elga Jeffries. And if I am to believe this column this incumbent seems like a bad one...
Jeffries, 61, represents the 26th District, which runs south along the lakefront from downtown to South Shore. She was the longtime assistant to state Rep. Lovana "Lou" Jones, who died in office in May 2006. A slew of veteran South Side pols backed Jeffries for the interim appointment to Jones' spot.

Lately some politicians have soured on her. Like Kwame Raoul. Over a recent afternoon tea, Raoul told me he is pushing Burns, his former nemesis. Why?

"Over the course of the year, I had the opportunity to watch Elga," said Raoul.

"And?" I asked.

"Nice lady." Raoul paused, then added: "Over her head. She couldn't articulate anything on the [House] floor."

"The killer," he added, was House Bill 758. The measure would close a loophole in Illinois' gun restrictions by requiring that anyone who buys a handgun from a private seller submit to a background check.

Last April the bill failed, two votes short of the 60 needed for passage. Jeffries voted against it, even though she co-sponsored it.

It reminds me of that infamous John Kerry moment, when he exclaimed, "I actually did vote for it ... before I voted against it."
For the record I'm against gun control. How about laws that go after those who commit violent crime instead of taking guns away from everybody. If a fellow politician says something negative about you though I suppose that's saying something.

Oh yeah I decided to do some quick research. She's 61 and apparently I can't find any educational information about her. I don't know where she went to college, that is if she went. Though she's obviously been active in her general community Bronzeville. She was even the Deputy Mayor of Bronzville (so who's the mayor?).

She was appointed to replace Lovanna Jones who died in 2006. I'm tempted to state that Jeffries worked with Jones but I'm too lazy to find that out.

Still I think this is a campaign worth watching. Maybe not for the gun control issue but maybe we might see a better leader for that area emerge to become the state rep up in Bronzeville.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Observations about CTA fares

Chicago has been using farecards since paper transfers were eliminated. This was back in the mid 1990s when paper transfers were eliminated in favor of transfer cards. You would pay your fare first then the bus driver or an agent at an L stop we now refer to as a customer assistant would give us this card that would have two transfers stored on them.

On a paper transfer once upon a time, all a customer assistant or a bus driver had to do was punch the necessary holes in the transfer. They had to punch the time and the route. Transfers were normally good for only two hours and if you change buses or trains more than twice you have to pay another fare.

Anyway at least a year or two after the transfer card made its grand debut, there was the transit card. Originally you had to add at least $13.50 to get an extra one dollar onto the transit card. A couple or so years later you would get 1% for every ten dollars.

Then fairly recently, within I don't know the last two or three years a new fare media has entered into Chicago transit. We call this card the Chicago Card of which there are two types. There's the regular one, the one I would use to get around the city and suburbs. Then there's the Plus card.

With this Plus card you get a few more features. You can either pay as you use or use it as a monthly pass (if you put in the necessary amount). You can register this card with an email address. You can add value using a credit or debit card online only and that's something you can't do at a CTA station yet (in Atlanta you can do it on the Marta system but I'll get to that one day). You can also check the amount of the card online as well.

With the regular card or the Plus card you still have to put in $20 in order to get that extra 1% (for the Plus card you have to be in the pay as you use mode. With both cards you can board faster since you don't have to put the card in the machine unlike a transit card. A device scans your card and you're all set.

BTW, I said earlier that a transit card once upon a time offered a 1% bonus for every $10. Since the last time the CTA raised fares, however, you no longer get that benefit. You're better off putting whatever amoung of funds you have to get around. Let's say if all you had to do was pay to go back and forth to work. You still have to take a bus to the L and then back. No problem you just have to put in enough for a fare & transfer to get you there. Then on the way back you have to put in enough to get back.

Of course these days if you're without a Chicago card an L ride costs $2.00 with a transit card or with cash. You still can ride a bus at the increased fare of $1.75, but at least a transfer has gotten cheaper for only 25 cents. Five cents less than it used to be!

If you insist on riding the transit system with cash you won't be saving money. Because you will have to pay $2 on every trip by bus and if you have to change you have to pay another $2. The CTA is forcing you to get with the times and buy yourself a Chicago Card or a transit card.

BTW, did I mention that a Chicago Card costs $5 before you even start loading money onto it? Though at least CTA will waive this fee, and they were going to waive this fee when they talked about raising fares over most of this past summer. And I wonder if they're going to offer that when they threaten to raise fares and make their cuts next month.

This leads me to the point of this post. I notice how people seem to insist on spending their two dollars to get on the bus or to put a few dollars on a transit card when they could save some money by putting $20 on a Chicago Card gaining a $2 bonus. I've never really understood how people never took advantage of these savings. Me personally I liked the idea of paying in advance and not having to worry about scrambling for a one-way fare.

I suppose some of the transit riding public doesn't appreciate what I appreciate. If the CTA raises fares as they have been threatening to do since Springfield hasn't resolved the transit funding issues of the CTA people will appreciate it more as fares could go up to over $2 for a one way ride. It something that I hope they can resolved because if the fares do go up like that, it doesn't seem likely that they'll come back to earth and that would be unfortunate.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Google Street view

I've been seeing this on a few Chicago blogs in the past week or so. I've been playing around with it and as a matter of fact I'm playing with it now. It's a great little toy. You can get a feel for a city you've never actually been so I'm liking it. If nothing else, you can have a look at a neighborhood in maybe any city that you're not very familiar with. Who knows you might find out that one area isn't as bad as the conception you've had in your head.

If you want to play with this program you go to Google Maps, then enter an address and the city and state and click on this button that says street view and you should be good to go.

This almost reminds me of when I could look for satelite images of a place. I did this a long time ago and I suppose I got bored with it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Chatham Pancake House, 700 E 87th St

Over at Illinoize right now Bill Baar links to a blog that basically is a review of pancake houses around the state so I figured why not discuss the Chatham Pancake House. I should admit that I don't know much about the menu at this place except they make a good omlet here apparently.

Anyway, I hear about how neighborhood business people in Chatham host breakfast meetings there. The Alderman here would host a breakfast meeting here. Across the street is the main branch of Seaway National Bank. The officers there might go over there and have a breakfast meeting here.

I would recall that this place was closed down at least once in my lifetime. It's open now, but you'd better get here early because I heard that this place closes at 3PM during the week. I don't know the business hours on the weekend.

I imagine that they'd be open on the weekends, however, they may not do good business at that time. They may have good business on Sundays for the church going crowd. Then again I don't really have anyway of knowing that.

So anyway, this is probably the only entry for pancake houses that I'm gonna do here. I wish I can say that I took this picture myself. I didn't but YoChicago did and posted this on their Flickr account.

If you pass through the far south side you should drop by this place and then tell me what you think of this place.

CTA budget calls for 'devastating' cuts

The CTA is again on their "doomsday" trip. Another proposed budget assuming that the state can't get it together to propose more funds for the CTA. And please don't anticipate a bailout like there were last month. It's not likely that the RTA will approve another "payday loan"...
The Chicago Transit Authority moved on Friday to impose “devastating” cuts in service and yet another fare hike effective Jan. 6, unveiling a so-called Doomsday budget for 2008 that fully lives up to its name.

Unless it gets more help from Springfield, the agency said it will have to eliminate an additional 43 bus routes, three of eight bus garages, lay off 1,800 more people, and raise fares at least 25 cents a ride.
Combined with other cuts that are due to take effect Nov. 4, the CTA will have eliminated roughly 20% of all service and 53% of all bus routes, leaving most areas of the city as much as a half a mile away from the nearest bus.

“The CTA does not want this budget ever to become reality,” said CTA President Ron Huberman. “This budget is about meeting our legal obligations” to present a balanced budget.

Earlier this year and last year, the CTA had pulled a fiscal punch of sorts, shifting funds and taking other financial steps to avoid immediate service cuts. But the agency no longer can do that, Mr. Huberman said. "We're out of options."

Among the 1,800 additional layoffs are those of 168 administrative workers.

The budget would eliminate what the CTA says is a $158-million hole.

While base fares would rise 25 cents, to a maximum of $3.25 per ride for rail riders, the price of CTA’s passes would rise more. For instance, the 30-day pass would go from $75 now to $84 in November and $94 in January.
Another casualty of the new budget, if implemented, will be a precedent-setting deal the CTA struck earlier this year with its employee unions to revamp its pension and health system. The deal has the potential to save the CTA $11 million a month, but automatically will die by Jan. 1 unless the General Assembly by then approves new subsidies or the unions voluntarily expand what has been a somewhat controversial arrangement, Mr. Huberman said.

There are a couple of small pieces of good news in the Doomsday budget: The CTA will preserve all of its overnight owl service, and will not shift more money from capital projects to operations. However, the latter is not voluntary. Under rules from the federal government, the CTA “has no more money to shift,” Mr. Huberman said.

The CTA board is scheduled to vote on the proposal at its November meeting after a series of public hearings. The main public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 5 at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake St.
Now if only this "personality clash" in Springfield can come to a conclusion. The governor apparently is threatening to lay off state troopers according to the Capitol Fax Blog. It's not getting any prettier down there.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Playing hardball to save a field of dreams

How about a story from the west side about a baseball park that is endangered because it is in the way of some expansion by the Illinois Medical District. It's endangered because the land this park sits is actually owned by this medical district. From the Chicago Journal...
The Illinois Medical District has been demanding that a little league baseball field clear its land to make way for a new biotech building-but the field of dreams may not be lost just yet.

Livingston Field has been used for more than 13 years by the Near West Little League, but organizers have been fighting to keep the field since receiving notice of IMD's plan to take back the property at Lexington and Leavitt, which they own.

The Little League and the Chicago Park District received a letter from the IMD on Sept. 25, ordering the league to clear its field at by this week. But last Friday, the Little League was given new hope that its field may be saved after a meeting with representatives from the city, Park District and IMD.

Officials from the IMD proposed alternative sites where the field could be moved, but Bob Muzikowski, founder and president of the league, said they were not acceptable mainly because of safety concerns. He added that more than 150 volunteers have made the park a safe-haven on the Near West Side.

"The biggest issue is safety, and it's the safest park in the area," he said. "We've been nothing but great neighbors, and it's not right."

The park is safe for now, as Mayor Richard M. Daley ordered Muzikowski not to clear the field. Daley, as well as 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis and 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti, have offered continuing support for the league to keep its field. Both Solis and Fioretti have said the IMD will not be granted any permits until a solution is found.

While the fate of Livingston Field is still up in the air, city officials have been in an ongoing dialogue with IMD and the Little League, which has pushed back the scheduled demolition of the field.

Muzikowski said he is optimistic they will be able to keep the field, but recognized that it is a difficult situation.

IMD officials are planning to build a new research center, which would include a greenhouse, at the site and have said the location has proven ideal for the sunlight that's necessary for the studies they plan to conduct.

Gary May Lose Bus Service

I was gonna compare the situation with the CTA and their "doomsday scenarios" with this story I just found from Gary, Indiana. Though to be fair Gary is a much smaller city in not only land area but also in population compared to Chicago. Losing their bus system I suspect is basically just a confimation that Gary is a struggling city.

Here's what happened...
The funding was pulled because the Gary Public Transit Corporation apparently mismanaged the 4-million-dollars it received from the Federal Transit Administration.

Federal authorities say Gary is now ineligible to receiving funding for its city-wide bus service.

That’s leaving Mayor Rudy Clay and the Gary City Council trying to either convince the feds to restore the grant, or finding additional money somewhere else.

But right now, the city says it doesn’t have a way to recoup the cost, which may mean bus service could end by January.
So it's mismanagement the thing that cost a lot of governmental organizations money is mismanagement. Chicago may not be Gary but there's a problem with that accross the border in this state. Unforuntately mismanagement is going to cost Gary its bus system.

Cop's Son Killed Defending Woman At Drive Thru

I certainly hate to hear stories like this and from what I heard about this story at least we can say this guy died trying to do the right thing. It was just unfortunate that in doing so he just so happened to have gotten himself shot 5 times. From Channel 2...
It was four o'clock, Saturday morning. Ronald and his cousin were at a drive thru. A man came to Ronald's window, asking if wanted to buy marijuana. He said no. The man went to another car, asking a woman the same thing. She also said no. Then, he grabbed her through her window. Ronald saw this and went to help. The suspect shot Ronald five times. The man ran, jumped into a car and left the scene.

The shooter was wearing a white shirt and dark pants, but no further description was available, according to police News Affairs Officer John Mirabelli.

Ronald Heard lived in Wrightwood. His father is a patrol officer at a South Side district, relatives said.

"He was just a great kid," said Ronald's uncle John Griffin. "He was what every father wants, he was what every mother's proud of. He was just a good example of how to raise a kid the right way."
Almost reminds me of Blair Holt except while Holt was a cop's son he also was so very young. This story is still unfortunate and at least people will help another person in need, but it also illustrates the risks involved in doing so.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Chicagoist has more on the Roseland Hospital Strike

Chicago Public Radio had a story yesterday and Chicagoist picks it up today.

Most hospital workers strike over staffing levels and quality of care issues, but this strike was purely economic. "People aren't lined up to work at Roseland. And we think by the hospital adjusting the pay rate so that it's comparable to other South Side hospitals, that speaks to better recruitment, better retention and ultimately better patient care," Local 20 President Byron Hobbes told Chicago Public Radio. "We have grown men and women raising children making $7.50 an hour. We have people with 20 to 30 years of experience making $10.35 an hour," Andrew Phillips, a storeroom manager at Roseland and union member told Medill Reports.

For a union with a reputation for devastating entire hospital systems with long-term strikes, Monday's work stoppage was pretty tame. Local 20 members went back to work Tuesday, still without an agreement. They are considering federal mediation or arbitration to settle this contract.

Chicago City Council meeting today starting at 10AM

I just got wind of it. Some time for those of you who are interested to see it. Today is Mayor Daley's Budget Address. So that should be something worth watching for those of you who want to know something about that process.

Go here because the Tribune is handing you the Chicago City Clerk page on a platter.

10:50 AM - The Mayor's budget address has just concluded. He mentioned poverty a lot, he took a few swings at the situation in Springfield, and he mentioned the Olympic Bid.

Swings at Springfield are regarding the lack of action on the property tax cap. He wanted to emphasize that he wanted to find alternatives to finding revenue other than turning to the taxpayers. Close to the beginning he said he was presenting a balanced budget and said something very familiar because I took a course in Financial Management in Local Government, "Unlike the federal government that can run on a deficit, a municipality is required to have a balanced budget."

10:56 - Crain's already has a write up about the Mayor's Budget Message and it starts off with one word, "OUCH!!!"

Blaming bad economic times and Springfield infighting, Mayor Richard M. Daley on Wednesday rolled out nearly $200 million in proposed new tax hikes and fee increases to balance his 2008 budget.

Most notable is a requested $108-million increase in the city’s property tax levy — an item that is already stirring stiff opposition among aldermen and may require all of Mayor Daley’s legendary political muscle to pass.

Also on the table are new or increased fees on bottled water, phone usage, liquor and beer purchases, parking, and lease transactions. In addition, developers of major construction projects would be asked to pay a new first-time planning fee.

The combination of rising costs and other factors “has created a deficit of $196 million, which can be addressed only by further reducing costs, increasing revenues or both,” Mayor Daley told aldermen in his budget speech.

“We have a choice in this budget: Do we maintain city services and make the investments needed to keep Chicago moving forward, or do we cut services, make substantial layoffs and risk falling behind?” Mayor Daley asked. “I believe we have only one choice — we must keep Chicago moving forward.”

Michelle Obama in auto accident

The wife of Senator Barack Obama was reported by to have been involved in an accident in Iowa. This no doubt has something to do with helping her man campaign in Iowa as he seeks the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. Instead of writing up a blog post about it, I'll just link to the two stories that I have found on it. Then I'm going to bed. :-)

Michelle Obama Involved in Car Accident
Michele Obama in Iowa Accident

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Hospital Workers Strike Roseland for a Day

Hey this story was in the Capitol Fax Morning Shorts today. Very interesting I could stay on the Tribune & Sun-Times websites all day or even Channel 2 and I'd never would have known about this.

You can go to the story and listen to the report but here's the gist of it to lead you into it...
People who work in labs, kitchens and in other service jobs at Roseland Community Hospital on Chicago's South Side went on a one-day strike today.

Their contract expired last month.
Go over there!

Successful city schools seek to branch out

This sounds good to me. Once upon a time there were fields trips to Disney and for whatever reason and this was when I was still in elementary school, I never had a chance to go. Who knows what could have happened if I had.

Anyway here's the article...
Walt Disney Magnet, the city's first magnet school, and Burroughs Elementary, a successful neighborhood school, would be turned into "franchises" with multiple campuses under a proposal to be unveiled today by Chicago Public School officials.

Disney's heavy arts and technology emphasis, including its animation lab, and Burroughs' classes for parents and kids that run as late as 8:30 p.m. would be among several features replicated under the new CPS "Performance Pipeline Project.''

Multiple campuses of charter schools have sprung up in Chicago and nationally, but the Pipeline Project is believed to be the first time a U.S. school district is franchising its own, traditional public schools, said Phyllis Lockett, CEO of Renaissance Schools Fund, a project funder.

If successful, Disney, now in Uptown, and Burroughs, now in Brighton Park, could spin off two or three campuses.

Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan is expected to propose 19 new schools today, including the two franchise campuses. All are part of Mayor Daley's Renaissance 2010 effort to create 100 new schools by 2010. About 55 have opened so far.

Disney-2 and Burroughs-2 would be located in existing buildings in areas with low-performing schools in an attempt to transplant success into struggling neighborhoods. At least three-quarters of the students now at Disney and Burroughs are from low-income homes, yet students at both schools have been passing at least 75 percent of their state tests.

"We don't know if the new school will be north or south,'' said Disney Principal Kathleen Hagstrom. "It doesn't matter. We think we'll be successful.''

Monday, October 08, 2007

City Hall preps double whammy on taxes, transit

Well a little more on the CTA situation as well as the tax situation in the City of Chicago...
Sunday night’s thriller against Green Bay is likely to be the last good news that Chicagoans get this week as local government bodies prepare to deliver a one-two punch that may sting worse than any suffered in decades here.

First — barring a Springfield miracle — the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) will unveil a proposed 2008 budget that, unlike prior versions, almost certainly will be the real Doomsday thing. Likely to be on the table are as much as a 20% cut in overall service, well more than 1,000 layoffs and another round of fare hikes that would make CTA passenger charges the highest in the country.

Shortly before or after CTA President Ron Huberman takes the stage, Mayor Richard M. Daley on Wednesday will unveil his own heaping helping of woes: service cuts and tax hikes that insiders have warned may include a stunning $100-million hike in the property tax as part of the proposed 2008 city budget.

And the CTA and city shots, of course, come as the Cook County Board considers an increase of 2% in the county’s sales tax proposed by county President Todd Stroger — an action that would make Chicagoans pay an 11% sales tax on just about everything they purchase, easily the highest in the country.

These proposals also come as Springfield squabbles over a proposed property-tax hike that threatens to hit city homeowners with what County Assessor Jim Houlihan says would be an average 40% increase on bills due later this year.


“It’s an all-out race to see who can raise taxes higher, faster than others in the race,” says Gerald Roper, president and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. “It says that government doesn’t know how to stop spending.”
I have never been for taxes and I'm not going to change that. It seems that for better or for worse the only reasons that the CTA, City of Chicago, and Cook County is struggling financially right now because of mismanagement. That's the way it seems to me especially if these entities are looking for money and the only choice to be had is raising taxes.

I imagine that what's also problematic is the situation in Springfield. A governor who wants to get as much money as he can for his own grand schemes but seeminlgy unwilling to get what he wants unless the legislature compromises with him by giving him what he wants. The legislature, seemingly the Illinois House of Representatives doesn't seem to want to play that game though.

More CTA cuts coming

This time it appears to be worse than it would have been if they hadn't postponed the proposed cuts and raised the fares last month. Unfortunately since there's still a personality clash going on in Springfield I wish CTA, Pace, and Metra (agencies of the Regional Transit Authority) can get some more money to avoid having to make these painful changes.

Here's an article from the Tribune...
The Chicago Transit Authority this week will unveil a new and more severe round of service cuts and fare hikes to take place Jan. 1 unless the stalemate over state transit funding is broken.

The latest CTA "doomsday" scenario comes atop announced service reductions, fare increases and employee layoffs already scheduled for Nov. 4, when 39 bus routes would be eliminated and fares boosted to as high as $3 per ride.

It's a sure sign that, at a time when mass transit in the Chicago region should be in a vigorous expansion mode to combat choking traffic congestion and the failure to meet federal standards on controlling hazardous air pollutants in all six metro-area counties, the Regional Transportation Authority system is moving in the wrong direction.

On Wednesday, CTA President Ron Huberman will present two 2008 budget alternatives to the transit agency's board. One proposed budget is contingent on new funding; the other, under the no-new-funding scenario, slashes more service and increases fares well beyond the Nov. 4 contingency plan.

Early this year, RTA officials ordered the CTA, Metra and Pace to pass 2007 budgets based on the risky assumption that the state would approve $226 million in new operating subsidies for transit. It was a questionable move at the time by the RTA, which is responsible for providing financial oversight.

Today, the RTA's gamble looks much, much worse. Relatively mild service cuts and fare hikes that would have taken place earlier this year to balance transit agency budgets -- if indeed such measures were really necessary to convince state lawmakers of the pending transit meltdown -- will pale in comparison to what may lie ahead.

Others share the blame with the RTA, however. When disagreement in the legislature over funding sources blocked passage of any new money for transit over the summer, Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago) was first to call on the CTA to postpone service cuts and fare hikes set for Sept. 16, in order to buy time for a deal.

Subsequently, Gov. Rod Blagojevich came up with a plan to get the CTA and Pace through their 2007 budget crises by advancing money to the transit agencies that they are counting on in 2008, a move that critics denounced as nothing more than a "payday loan."