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The Mechanics

City Council Thu Jul 30 2015

Proposed STOP Act Would Document "Stop & Frisk" in Chicago

There's never a dull day in the Loop. And there's certainly never a dull day at a City Council meeting. Wednesday morning's meeting got off to a running start as protestors of all sorts packed the second floor of the City Hall building outside the council chamber.

They held signs that said things such as "Save Dyett" (a high school slated for closure) and "Mayor Emanuel where's the justice for black children?" Multiple groups were gathered to give press conferences on upcoming ordinances or to express their displeasure with the City Council. They ranged from the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Equal Access Across Chicago, We Charge Genocide, Chicago Votes, #ChiStops, Asian Americans Advancing Justice and others.

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Jennifer Prohov / Comments (0)

Elections Fri Jul 24 2015

Federal Decision in PA Could Help Trigger Major Illinois Election Changes

Originally reported by Ballot Access News, on July 24, a US District Court judge in Pennsylvania issued a 41-page opinion [PDF] ruling that state's system of imposing costs on unsuccessful minor party petitions is unconstitutional.

While Illinois does not impose such costs, other related aspects of election law are very comparable between the two states. With the case Summers v. Smart [PDF] still pending in U.S. District Court in Chicago, the Pennsylvania ruling may portend the end of the hated "challenge system" in Illinois. In the process, ballot access could expand greatly -- especially for third parties, but also for "maverick" candidates running in major party primaries and for Chicago aldermanic candidates. And if the General Assembly is smart, the electoral process changes could involve the institution of filing fees, which could be an entirely new revenue source at several levels of government.

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Phil Huckelberry / Comments (1)

Chicago Public Schools Thu Jul 23 2015

North Side NAC Members Call on Intrinsic to Withdraw Charter Proposal

The only new charter school proposed for anywhere on the North Side this year is facing strong opposition -- from the advisory group convened by CPS to review their proposal.

An outright majority of members of the North Side Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC), a CPS-convened citizen group, has signed on to a formal letter requesting that charter operator Intrinsic withdraw their proposal for a third high school. The letter -- the full text of which can be found here -- was delivered the morning of July 23.

Intrinsic already operates one high school on the Northwest Side at 4540 W. Belmont Ave. Last year, Intrinsic also received conditional approval for a second high school. The second school has been in the news because there is still no actual location for it -- and this is at the core of the problems identified with the Intrinsic #3 proposal.

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Phil Huckelberry / Comments (0)

Social Issues Tue Jul 21 2015

Staying Safe in Chiraq

News video startup TouchVision today released a short documentary titled Brave in Chiraq: Countdown to Summer, focusing at how youth leaders with the ARK of St. Sabina are attempting to keep young people safe this summer.


Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Op-Ed Wed Jul 15 2015

Financial Transaction Tax Could Save the State -- and Clean Up the Exchanges

trading screenBy Curtis Black

A lot of taxes are being proposed — sales taxes, property taxes, income taxes — as the state's budget stalemate grinds on and the city's financial crisis metastasizes.

But the powers that be have taken one tax off the table, and it's one that would target the very wealthy — the only ones benefiting from economic growth in recent decades: a financial transaction tax.

A small tax on trades on Chicago's futures exchanges [PDF] could raise billions of dollars, and traditional traders wouldn't even notice it, proponents say in a new report.

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Mechanics / Comments (0)

Feature Wed Jul 08 2015

What to Do With All Those Leftover Fireworks

BottleRocket.jpg
Photo: Silvester on Flickr

The further away we get from the Fourth of July, the less socially acceptable — and still totally illegal — it is to shoot flaming balls into the air of a crowded urban environment. I know, lame.

Plus, your neighbors are complaining, and quite a few of them think the explosions are actually gunshots. (BTW, here's a handy video showing the difference.)

So, what should do you do with any stockpiles of unexploded ordinance you have lying around?

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Mike Ewing / Comments (0)

Environment/Sustainability Fri Jul 03 2015

Rehabilitating Wooded Island and Installing Yoko Ono's "Sky Landing"

Temporary Heavy Equipment Bridge
The temporary heavy equipment bridge through the west lagoon.

Jackson Park's Wooded Island is currently closed to the public while it is being reworked by a consortium of groups led by the Army Corps of Engineers, but last Saturday the Chicago Park District offered a special tour of the island's rehabilitation and Yoko Ono's in-process sculpture,"Sky Landing."

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David Schalliol / Comments (2)

Neighborhoods Wed Jul 01 2015

Chiraq vs. the Good in Englewood?

Good in Englewood Twitter stream
Screenshot of the @GoodInEnglewood Twitter account

Chiraq, Spike Lee's new movie filming this summer on the city's South Side, has stirred the contentious pot of Chicago public opinion into a boil over the name of the film. Aldermen William Burns (4th) and David Moore (17th) have spoken out against the title and what they see as a negative branding effect it could have on their communities. Burns has proposed legislation in City Council that would urge Illinois lawmakers to deny any tax credits to the production of the film. Even Mayor Rahm Emanuel has spoken out against the film.

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Jennifer Prohov / Comments (0)

Feature Tue Jun 30 2015

"I Streaked Mayor Emanuel for $250,000"

streaker.jpg

We spoke with Jackie S., who took up billionaire Alki David's $250,000 offer to anyone who streaked Mayor Emanuel. Below is her story in her own words.

I read an article in TimeOut that said this billionaire Alki David, who calls himself an "eccentric billionaire," was offering $250K to anyone who streaked in front of Rahm.

I immediately searched for Alki David and saw he had done this before, and had paid out. I saw he had re-tweeted the TimeOut article saying he would pay $250K.

I jumped in my car to try and find Rahm.

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Mike Ewing / Comments (2)

Police Tue Jun 30 2015

Tackling Violence with a Softer Side of Policing

MArillac1.jpg
Chicago Police Officer Diana Varga answers questions from children and youth at the Foglia Family and Youth Center in Chicago's East Garfield Park neighborhood. (Photo by Emily Gray Brosious)

When police officers couldn't make it to a scheduled basketball match with youth in the East Garfield Park neighborhood last Wednesday, 11th District Chicago Police Officer Diana Varga swooped in to save the day with an impromptu meet-and-greet of sorts.

Dressed in plain athletic clothes, the outgoing young officer spoke about policing in Chicago to a few dozen people gathered in the gymnasium. Then she opened up for a question and answer session. Children and teens sat cross-legged on the basketball court, eagerly raising their hands to ask Officer Varga about her background, her police work and what it takes to become an officer.

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Emily Brosious / Comments (0)

National Politics Thu Jun 25 2015

The Battle Over the Confederate Flag

karencooper-battleflag.jpg
Image: Confederate flag supporter Karen Cooper shares her story in the documentary "Battle Flag"

As the nation mourned the victims of the terrorist attack in Charleston, South Carolina, images of suspected gunman Dylan Roof featuring the Confederate flag sparked a movement calling for the flag to be removed from statehouses and store shelves. But some claim the flag is not a racist icon and should remain as a symbol of Southern heritage.

Battle Flag brings the personal stories of people on both sides of this debate into focus. By combining short documentary interviews with additional resources, the multimedia project adds some much-needed depth to the discussion.

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Mike Ewing / Comments (0)

Environment/Sustainability Sun Jun 21 2015

Touring the Deep Tunnel and Thornton Quarry

The Thornton Reservoir
Construction equipment on the bed of the future Thornton Reservoir. Trucks on the Tri-State Tollway can be seen above the quarry.

On Saturday, I joined the Southeast Environmental Task Force (SETF) on one of its tours of Chicago's goliath infrastructure. The tour featured the future site of the Thornton Composite Reservoir, the largest such reservoir in the world, and a Deep Tunnel pumping station 350' below ground at the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant. Both are part of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD)'s gargantuan Tunnel and Reservoir Plan, the multi-decade, multi-billion dollar project designed to protect the Chicago region from the flooding and pollution caused by overflowing sewer and stormwater infrastructure.

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David Schalliol / Comments (0)

Federal Government Wed Jun 10 2015

Hastert's Troubles Mount

Dennis Hastert, a former Republican Congressman from Illinois and former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, appeared in federal court on Tuesday to enter pleas of not guilty to charges that he violated banking laws and lied to the FBI in an effort to conceal his alleged sexual abuse of a high school student some 45 years ago.

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Thomas J. Gradel / Comments (0)

Election 2016 Tue Jun 02 2015

The Progressive Path: Bernie Sanders and How to Operate Off the Two-Party Trail

Did Bernie Sanders make the right decision?

My question last year was not so much whether Vermont's junior Senator would run for President, but rather, if he were to do so, how he would: as a Democrat, as a Green, or as an Independent. The fourth option, of course, was not to run at all. But that decision was likely already off the table. Eugene McCarthy once remarked that "It's harder to stop running for president than it is to start." Once Sanders was running, he wasn't going to stop. He just needed to decide how. In the end, of course, he decided to run as a Democrat.

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Phil Huckelberry / Comments (0)

Op-Ed Wed May 27 2015

Riot Fest and the Problem With Public-Private Partnerships

Riot FestRiot Fest, the increasingly popular punk-themed festival, recently made the decision to move from Humboldt Park to Douglas Park in North Lawndale. The move comes after Ald. Roberto Maldonado vowed to keep Riot Fest from returning, which spurred neighborhood residents to stand their ground and protect the park, which was heavily damaged after the most recent festival.

The conflict is possibly being reduced to just fighting gentrification, but that is not the only problem.

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Monica Reida / Comments (2)

Feature

What to Do With All Those Leftover Fireworks

By / 0 Comments

Photo: Silvester on Flickr The further away we get from the Fourth of July, the less socially acceptable — and still totally illegal — it is to shoot flaming balls into the air of a crowded urban environment. I know,... More...

Civics

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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About Mechanics

Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
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Editor: Mike Ewing, mike@gapersblock.com
Mechanics staff inbox: mechanics@gapersblock.com

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