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Friday, September 4

Gapers Block

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The Mechanics

Neighborhoods Thu Sep 03 2015

How One Program is Bridging Chicago's Neighborhood Divides

Photo by Dreamone Visualz.

North Siders often get flak for not visiting other parts of the city. But the disconnect goes both ways, says Jahmal Cole. He's waiting to cross a busy intersection in Wicker Park, a gaggle of selfie-snapping teens in matching t-shirts behind him.

"People don't feel a part of Chicago, they feel isolated to their community in Lincoln Park or the Loop, or they feel like part of an under-resourced community," Cole said. "When people hear about things happening in another community it might as well be in another country."

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Mike Ewing / Comments (0)

Chicago Public Schools Tue Aug 25 2015

Explaining a Hunger Strike to My 3-Year-Old

By Dave Stieber

A few days ago my son and I took juice to the 12 parents and community members who are performing a hunger strike. They are protesting Chicago Public Schools' decision to close one of the last public schools in their neighborhood. Frustrations are intense towards CPS, who has not been listening to their proposal to open a new public school, which they created with real community input.

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Mechanics / Comments (0)

Op-Ed Fri Aug 14 2015

Why Wishing for a Hurricane Katrina in Chicago is Racist

By Dave Stieber

Last night I read an article in the Chicago Tribune in which the columnist and editorial board member Kirsten McQueary "metaphorically" wished a Hurricane Katrina would wipe out Chicago. I wish I were making this up, please read this piece. Even while I and many others were tweeting her about how offensive her column is, she sent out the following tweet:


What Hurricane Katrina did was kill nearly 2,000 people and displace and relocate 1 million people throughout the Gulf Coast. In New Orleans the population of the city fell by half due to loss of homes and displacement. Fifty percent of the city's residents' homes were uninhabitable or lost, and multiple generations of New Orleanians were forced to move. Historical and proudly black communities were wiped out.

Now some people like McQueary will likely say, but New Orleans is back! Who is New Orleans back for? For people who look like me (i.e. white people). Not the people who lived in those predominantly black precincts.

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Mechanics / Comments (6)

Op-Ed Wed Aug 12 2015

I am a Dictator: A Chicago Public Schools Teacher Responds to Rauner & Claypool

By Dave Stieber

Recently Governor Rauner said, "...the Chicago Teachers Union shouldn't have dictatorial powers, in effect and causing the financial duress that Chicago Public Schools are facing right now."

This statement from Rauner comes just a few days after Forrest Claypool, our newest CEO, said that teachers need to have "shared sacrifice" by taking a 7 percent pay cut.

The shared sacrifice Claypool speaks of means that my wife (also a CPS teacher) and I would lose about $11,000 in combined income for this year alone.

I could go on and on about how Claypool is just another puppet of Rahm, in a long line of puppets appointed by the mayor, or how Chicagoans demand an elected school board (remember Chicago is the only district in the entire state without an elected school board). But since Rauner thinks a union run by 40,000 teachers is a dictatorship and Claypool says teachers need to sacrifice, I will share my stories, so that maybe, just maybe, they both (along with Rahm) will realize what it means to really sacrifice.

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Mechanics / Comments (4)

Chicago Public Schools Wed Aug 05 2015

Intrinsic Withdraws Proposal For Third Charter School

Intrinsic Schools has sent a letter to the North Side Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) informing that they are withdrawing their proposal for their third charter high school in Chicago.

The letter was addressed from Intrinsic CEO Melissa Zaikos and came one night before a scheduled "Capacity Interview," which would have essentially been an interview of the charter operator by the NAC.

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Phil Huckelberry / Comments (0)

Op-Ed Fri Jul 31 2015

The Reason I Can't Have White Friends: Race Talk in America

By Jeremey Johnson

In the last year we in America have seen a slew of race related crime. The subsequent deaths of Rekia Boyd, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, Freddie Gray and others have been the focal point of many conversations. Unfortunately most of those conversations don't end well. I have had many conversations about issues that plague the black community, ranging from police brutality to the common misconceptions that are often spread through bad media representations. From these many conversations I have come to one conclusion. It is nearly impossible to have white friends while living in a white supremacist country.

I am not against the prospect of interracial friendship, but such friendships are hard to maintain when so many of your white friends have diminished your entire culture to rap music, twerking, and the myth that is black on black crime. Navigating race talk is a choreographed chaos of toe stepping and boundary crossing. I often find that white people are more likely to listen to other white people on Fox News about black people than are to listen to me, an actual black person.

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Mechanics / Comments (5)

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 (1)

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

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"


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)


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...


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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