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Saturday, April 25

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The Mechanics

Law Tue Apr 21 2015

Will Donor's Lawsuit Send Schock Waves?

The novel federal lawsuit filed April 15 against former Congressman Aaron Schock and up to 100 "John Does," seeking return of political contributions, is one of the strongest signals yet of Americans' disgust with the perversion and conversion of our own political system, and in particular Congress, into a beast we barely recognize let alone control. In part, the new lawsuit simply piles more chaos onto the train wreckage of the Aaron Schock Express, catalyzed by the relatively trivial "Downton Abbey" redecoration kerfuffle and now in the hands of a grand jury. The suit underscores that overdone office decor was only footnote to a pattern of hinky dealings by Schock. It also tests the immunity that politics has enjoyed from the courts, if not the wider court of public opinion. This latter part of the story may not be so easily dismissed, though the lawsuit may meet that fate.

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Jeff Smith / Comments (0)

Law Tue Apr 21 2015

Up In Here Fails to Live Up to Its Potential

While attending Moody Bible Institute, Mark Dostert would go with his fellow students to do the school's Practical Christian Ministry at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, more commonly known as Audy Home, on the West Side. Dostert felt he was contributing to the lives and after receiving a graduate degree in Texas, he returns to Chicago to become a "children's attendant" at Audy Home, only to realize he is essentially a prison guard and another cog in the prison complex.

Up In Here chronicles what could be a very compelling first-hand account of one man's journey inside one of the largest incarceration systems in the country, but it is hindered by Dostert's poor narrative voice and decisions as a writer.

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Monica Reida / Comments (0)

Gender Fri Apr 17 2015

Black Trans Lives Matter

By H. Melt

On March 30 at DePaul University — one day after the Trans 100 event and one day before the Transgender Day of Visibility — CeCe McDonald and Monica James, two black trans women from Chicago, gathered to share their thoughts about the current state of the trans movement, their experiences of violence and incarceration, and how the power of community saved their lives.

In front of a packed lecture hall, McDonald began by discussing her Chicago roots and how the city influenced her. Born and raised in Chicago, McDonald attended Clara Barton Elementary and Percy L. Julian High School on the city's South Side. At the age of 14, she was given the ultimatum by her religious family to either suppress her trans identity or leave home. McDonald left home and moved to Minneapolis, where she began to transition.

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Mechanics / Comments (0)

Stump Connolly Fri Apr 10 2015

Stump Connolly Reporting In: Rahm Love

Ben Kolak of the Scrappers Film Group contributed to this report.

It was Rahm's night, and he spent it surrounded by friends and family. Riding a hefty 56-44 margin (in a runoff where less than 40 percent of registered voters went to the polls), Mayor Emanuel sealed the deal on a victory he thought he'd won last February. So it was a new, "nicer" mayor who gave a gracious acceptance speech, but mostly he basked in the glow of "Rahm Love" -- and even threatened to give some back.

Stump Connolly, chief political correspondent of The Week Behind, will be covering the Chicago mayoral race with his new pocketcam and offering periodic video reports exclusively on Gapers Block as the campaign unfolds.

Stump Connolly / Comments (0)

State Politics Thu Apr 09 2015

Aaron Schock and Endless, Evolving Corruption

Aaron Schock Men's HealthAaron Schock's sudden yet not-so-sudden fall from grace has provided a lot of fodder for columnists and editorial boards -- and for good reason. There's the "Downton Abbey" office. There's the rippling abs cover of Men's Health. There's the endless discussion about his sexual orientation. And then there's the infamous Stephen Colbert interview. The congressman has sought, and received, a whole lot of attention over time. And now he's received more, but not in the way he would have preferred.

It's tempting to write 10 pages about Schock's background, as his early political history is almost as fascinating as everything swirling around his recent surprise announcement that he would be resigning his seat as Illinois' 18th District Congressman at the end of March. But many others have had their say on Schock. For a nice primer on the 33-year-old's meteoric rise, the Peoria Journal-Star offers a very nice time line. For in-depth reporting on the immediate scandal that appears to have brought Schock down, Politico is your bet, as they broke possibly the most damning evidence of financial impropriety, and have followed up with other insightful pieces about what's going on in Washington.

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Phil Huckelberry / Comments (0)

Housing Wed Apr 08 2015

Chicago Teens Face Homelessness, Remain Hopeful

By Kasey Carlson

The Chicago Public Schools reported serving 22,144 homeless students last year. More than 2,000 of those students were unaccompanied youth living without a parent or guardian.

It's not just a local problem. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, about 50,000 young people in the U.S. sleep on the street for six months or more.

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Mechanics / Comments (0)

Election 2015 Tue Apr 07 2015

Respect, Reform Key to Chicago Mayoral

Spring is supposed to be time for decluttering your closets. Me, I'm de-cluttering my politics. Mainly by boiling it down to asking candidates, "Whose side are you on?"

Yes, there are other questions. Are you a force for real reform, or a go-along-get-along with the rigged political structure? Will your policies lead to a more equal society or a more unequal one? Do you work for short-term fixes or long-term solutions? Are you fighting the growing surveillance state, or silent while we slide towards 1984? Are you down with war, or doing real work for peace? Will you fight to stave off environmental disaster, or will you be just more political dead weight as crises loom?

But, mainly - coursing through all of the above -- for whom will you govern? In tough fights, will you stand with those who speak truth to power? Whose side are you on?

In the Chicago mayor's race, hard decisions are coming down the pike. Taxes will need hiking no matter who wins. So fairness is paramount.

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Jeff Smith / Comments (0)

Op-Ed Tue Apr 07 2015

Rahm and the Madness Gene

By Michael Zapata

In Elizabeth Kolbert's great and tragic book The Sixth Extinction, Svante Pääbo, a Swedish biologist and one of the founders of paleogenetics, muses on what drove modern humans as opposed to archaic humans like Homo Erectus and the Neanderthals to journey to Madagascar:

It's only fully modern humans who start this thing of venturing out on the ocean where you don't see land. Part of that is technology, of course; you have to have ships to do it. But there is also, I like to think or say, some madness there. How many people must have sailed out and vanished on the Pacific before you found Easter Island. I mean, it's ridiculous. And why do you do that? Is it for the glory? For immortality? For curiosity? And now we go to Mars. We never stop.

Kolbert goes on to explain that Pääbo thinks it should be possible to identify a freak mutation in our DNA that makes this type of strange, even beautiful, human insanity possible. I think he is onto something here. I can think of far too many people I know who would be among the first to go to Mars if they could.

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Mechanics / Comments (0)

Election 2015 Mon Apr 06 2015

Garcia Makes One Last Push for Voters

By Manny Ramos

Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia - photo by Manuel Ramos
Mayoral Candidate Jesus "Chuy" Garcia leads a GOTV speech in front of supporters. Photo by Manny Ramos.

On the last day of early voting, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia made a final get out the vote effort at Mt. Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church. Mt. Pilgrim was filled with both excitement, and a sense of urgency. Garcia didn't stand alone; he was accompanied by key players in the African-American community.

"You are with us because you know my administration will reflect the diversity of our great city," said Garcia in front of a crowd of supporters. "No more lower bond wages in Chicago due to fiscal mismanagement in Chicago, No more attacks on pensions, and the retirement security of our workers," Garcia said as Dr. Cornel West and Rev. Jessie Jackson cheered him on.

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Mechanics / Comments (0)

Stump Connolly Mon Apr 06 2015

Stump Connolly Reporting In: Chuy Garcia's Last Stand

On Saturday, April 4, the faithful gathered, among them Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, Jesse Jackson from Operation PUSH, Dolores Huerta, iconic leader of the United Farm Workers in California, and Cornel West, the New York intellectual and self-described rabblerouser. At New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church on the West Side, they made one last push to get out the vote for Jesus "Chuy" Garcia -- and celebrate how far the progressive movement has come in Chicago.

Stump Connolly, chief political correspondent of The Week Behind, will be covering the Chicago mayoral race with his new pocketcam and offering periodic video reports exclusively on Gapers Block as the campaign unfolds.

Stump Connolly / Comments (0)

Media Tue Mar 31 2015

Help Wanted: Politics Writers

Mechanics is looking for new contributors who are passionate about Chicago, Cook County and Illinois politics. If you are interested, we would love to hear from you.

As a contributor to Gapers Block, you would be expected to write at least one post a week for Mechanics. We are looking for writers who can cover politics in general, but we would be happy to discuss if there is a beat that interests you.

NOTE: Gapers Block is a volunteer entity; while the position is unpaid, writers benefit from building clips, receiving media access to press conferences and other events, and occasional non-political perks.

If you are interested in writing about politics for Gapers Block, please send two to three writing samples, a little note about yourself and why you would like to write for GB to with the subject of "Contributing to Mechanics."

Monica Reida / Comments (0)

Election 2015 Mon Mar 30 2015

Fioretti's Bewildering Endorsement

Ald. Bob Fioretti made the decision late Saturday night to endorse Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the runoff instead of Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

Let me rephrase that in case you think I made something up to mess with you. Ald. Bob Fioretti is endorsing Rahm Emanuel for mayor.

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Monica Reida / Comments (1)

Stump Connolly Mon Mar 30 2015

Stump Connolly Reporting In: Who's Watching The Debates?

There have been seven debates so far in this mayoral race, with one more scheduled Tuesday at 7pm on WTTW-Channel 11. Nielsen ratings show the encounters are drawing a relatively small TV audience: 98,000 viewers on public television and about 322,000 on NBC's first head to head debate. But three of those four viewers live outside the city of Chicago, so if you measure only registered voters in Chicago (and factor in 2011's turnout of 42 percent), the direct impact of the debates is negligible -- unless you add in the other media coverage. We asked reporters who have both moderated and covered the debates about the long tail of mayoral debates. In other words, who's watching?

Stump Connolly, chief political correspondent of The Week Behind, will be covering the Chicago mayoral race with his new pocketcam and offering periodic video reports exclusively on Gapers Block as the campaign unfolds.

Stump Connolly / Comments (0)

Law Fri Mar 27 2015

Loophole for DUI Checkpoints?

duicheckpoint.jpgBy Tesia Galvan

In an effort allegedly intended to protect innocent citizens from driving under the influence tickets, a Florida attorney has developed the Fair DUI Flyer.

The flyer, created in September 2013 by Warren Redlich, reads, "I remain silent; no searches; I want my lawyer," and varies state-to-state. Eleven state versions can be found on Redlich's website,

Redlich, a New York attorney now based in Florida, said the flyer was inspired by Fair DUI: Stay Safe and Sane in a World Gone MADD, a book he published because of the experiences he had with clients in drunk driving cases and his desire for a better encounter with police.

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Mechanics / Comments (1)

Event Thu Mar 26 2015

Your Kids Are in a Crisis: Robert Putnam's American Dream

"Everybody who went to college raise your hand," said Dr. Robert Putnam from the stage of Cindy Pritzker Auditorium. Without exception, every hand of the 400, white, middle-aged professionals in attendance went up. "You're who I'm talking about when I say 'rich kids,'" Putnam jested. The audience laughed at the recognition that, yes, they were all members of a privileged social strata. Putnam nodded and turned toward the PowerPoint behind him, "Today, I'm going to be talking about inequality."

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Sam Rappaport / Comments (0)


Goethe, Floyd, Rahm & Me

By Phil Huckelberry / 0 Comments

This is a story of life, love, and property damage. It is a story involving crystallized water, piled some 19 inches deep. The story forces us to confront greed, manipulation, logistics, and physics. The characters include the legendary and the ordinary, from Rahm Emanuel to a bus driver whose name we'll likely never know. More...


Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 1 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

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