Friday, March 6, 2015

Are We Our Brothers Keeper: GEO Reentry Services

Location: 8007 South Cottage Grove Avenue, Chicago, IL 60619, USA

I've been holding back on writing a post on this because its too important of an issue in our community to not have all the facts. While I understand the concerns of the community, the initial post and subsequent comments frankly straddle the line of fear mongering. I could not understand the comments as the Safer Foundation, a non for profit, operated on 73rd Cottage Grove for a number of years without incident.

I took upon myself to investigate and spoke to Alderman Sawyer and my contacts in the 8th ward. During my conversation I learned that the office building at 8001-8007 S. Cottage IS NOT a state owned building but several state agencies rent from a private owner No one was aware of the opening other than seeing the press release from Ms. Chinta Strausberg. I reached out to her and Mr. Emanuel Barr. Mr. Barr is the Outreach and Operations manager for GEO Reentry Services and the son of the late Rev. Leonard Barr who was a community activist in the Chatham community for over 25 years. I received a response to my emails from both Ms. Strausberg and Mr. Barr. Mr. Barr and I agreed to meet and speak about GEO Reentry services.

I have researched the "reentry services" field in the past when there was talk of individuals wanting to open "transitional" (Halfway Houses) in the community. I found that some of the largest non for profits such as Salvation Army were the largest providers of transitional housing and other related services. I googled GEO and found that they were a FOR Profit company and was involved in a number of states as well as in a number of lines of businesses that serve the corrections industry.

On Thursday, March 5th I met with Mr. Barr at the Chatham office of GEO Reentry. As I walked toward the building I was aware that the Illinois Department of Human Services had offices on the Cottage Grove side of the building but was not aware of what State of Illinois department had offices on the rear side. As I walked up I saw two entrances both with signs on the door reading Department of Corrections. I entered the first door and within the vestibule was GEO Reentry Services offices.

The offices were modern and I was greeted by a receptionist behind glass. Entry to the office required that you be buzzed in. Mr. Barr and I greeted each other and I we got into some questions. I admit I was not aware that the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) was leasing space but was told they had been there for the past 15 years. I also asked about what was GEO Reentry Services and what made them different than some of the other organizations. GEO Reentry is a FOR PROFIT and takes a different approach to reentry services than the non profits such as Safer Foundation and others. Per Barr, GEO takes a more holistic approach to working with their clients. They don't believe that propping up an individual to get a job is productive unless the individual mindset is to be productive and has made the steps necessary to keep the job. As it was explained unless you get rid of the "stinkin thinkin" all your other efforts are useless. Most of the clients are non violent offenders (Drugs, theft, etc) who are in violation of their parole and risk going back into IDOC custody. Their parole officers refer them to GEO Reentry as a way to get them back on track. The facility has rules with the main one no earrings, hats or jewelry can be worn inside the facility. This stops any one from making an assumption that another was wearing gang paraphernalia. Also, foul language and smoking is not permitted. Clients are drug tested (dropping) and by breathalyzer for alcohol. Clients are assessed and put on an individualized services program that could last from 3-9 months. Services that GEO offers their clients are employment assistance, educational assistance, anger management , substance abuse and individual cognitive behavioral treatment (ICBT) services are all on site. Those individuals that require additional services are referred to outside agencies. I toured the facility and the space was modern and well equipped. The facility has a computer lab that serves several purposes that include, job search/resume preparation, situation simulation programs and educational programs. There is a multipurpose room that can be divided to provide two classrooms. The facility was build out under the supervision of Mr. Barr who stated he was compelled to make it the best it could be because he wanted the best for the community in which he was raised.

We talked about the emails and post that have been swirling around. Mr. Barr stated first he is from Chatham and still has relatives and he was asked to take the Outreach/Operation manager position in October and they started construction in December and he oversaw the construction from start to finish. He explained that his company is a contractor for the Illinois Department of Corrections and as a contractor,GEO’s role is to satisfy the requests of their customer. The reason why the services were requested for Chatham is because zip code 60619 has a large number of individuals currently on parole. He further stated that the build out had nothing to do with Alderman Michelle Harris(8), Alderman Roderick Sawyer (6) or state officials Elgie Sims, Marcus Evans, or Donne Trotter. It was a state request for services to this population and nothing more. That said, Barr has strong believes that engaging ongoing community support is a part of the success of any underserved population and has invited the elected officials to tour the site and find ways to connect the community. The biggest goal is to change the thinking of the participants and to help them become contributing members of the area, and not recidivating back in to prison. So there was and is no complicit activities going on with any elected official.

I also explained the communities concerns about "clients" loitering. He explained that although they are using their services the clients are still under supervision of the IDOC parole division and they would be in violation by engaging in such an activity. Lastly, I asked about GEO becoming a true community partner and Mr. Barr was more than happy to oblige. I asked about the organization creating a community advisory committee, working with Mather and the Department of Aging on helping seniors cope with love ones on probation and also working with the community on the Nuway situation. On all, Mr. Barr was open and was willing to sit down and get to work. Currently, the center is only servicing 7 individuals since they opened earlier this week, but expect to have up to 100. He stated that there may be employment opportunities there as well at other facilities and would share them with the community as they arise.

Mr. Barr again stated the community was welcome to come and tour the facility as well as he wanted to come to the GCA meeting on the 21st to discuss GEO Reentry. I forwarded his request to Mr. Thomas.

My bottom line is we must understand that we cannot export our problems to other communities anymore, communities such as Uptown are going through gentrification and are pushing out social service providers with exorbitant rents. We must commit to an A squared solution. First acknowledge then take action. We cannot continue to blame the loiterers along 79th Street and along Cottage Grove on the methadone clinic.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Chatham gets new Reentry Service Center

We received the following press release:
  • Chicago, IL -- In an effort to heal a broken community, a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony will be held Tuesday, March 3rd from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the GEO Reentry Service Center, 8007 So. Cottage Grove Avenue in Suite A located in the Chatham community.

    The son of the late Rev. Leonard Barr, Emanuel Barr, Outreach and Operations manager for the Center, said the ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. and that the Center is a one-stop shop for men and women who are on parole.

    GEO Reentry Services supports the work of the Illinois Department of Corrections Barr said the new office would provide services including job development, resources and reentry skills including resume building, dress for success, education with a full time employment and education coordinator to support the efforts.

    “These skills will equip them to be contributing citizens as they reintegrate into the community,” said Barr.

    GEO Reentry Services has been in Illinois since 1997 with six offices in Illinois: East St. Louis, Decatur, Rockford, Chicago Heights, West Fulton and now in Chatham.

    The opening of the Chatham office, he said, “Is an opportunity to help the community. My father was a community activist who worked with African American churches. That’s my DNA. The work we do serves to create a better outcome for these returning citizens as well as public safety on the South Side of Chicago.”

    “Having the ability to offer services that contribute to the healing of the community is redemptive work particularly in under served communities,” said Barr. “Reducing recidivism is the goal of our work which we hope will change the landscape of incarceration and offer safer and healthier communities.”

    The area manager for GEO Reentry is Kim Cajicek from Springfield.

Monday, March 2, 2015

FYI: Bennett Elementary Parent Advisory Council Meeting

Bennett School - 10112 S. Prairie Ave.
 Received this e-mail on Sunday. Hopefully there is some interest in attending this meeting:
  • Bennett Elementary Parent Advisory Council is sending an invitation to the Roseland community organizer to join our first meeting on March 6, 2015 at 6pm. As the new chairwoman, I will like to provide our parents with the best support from Bennett P.A.C, 9th Ward Alderman, and community organizers of Roseland Heights.

    Bennett Elementary Parent Advisory Council Meeting
    Bennett Elementary School
    10112 S. Prairie Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60628
    March 6, 2015
    6:00 pm

    Thank you,

    P.A.C Chairwoman
    Mattie Carter
    M.A. Geography Economic Development
    Certified Community Developer

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Mayor Emanuel on Chicago Tonight

[VIDEO] On Thursday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel appeared on Chicago Tonight to discuss being in a mayoral runoff. Especially as noted this is the first mayor runoff since the city started with non-partisan mayoral elections in 1999.

Friday, February 27, 2015

5 Loaves restaurant has electrical box stolen

Location: 405 East 75th Street, Chicago, IL 60619, USA
5 Loaves Eatery, located at 405 E 75th St, Chicago IL 60619, just reported that their electrical box has been stolen (along with Harold's Chicken), and business

Here's what they posted on Facebook:

Attention 5 Loaves family, we are sorry to inform you that our electrical housing was stolen overnight. This is the second time this has happened.

I pity these neighborhood terrorist that perform crimes on people and businesses, that are trying to make a living and provide for their families, by taking instead of working for what they want.

We are asking for your prayers for not only our business; but also Harolds that is next door to us.

It took over two and a half months ,last time this happened to reopen. We are praying that God allows us to come back stronger and better.

God bless

We wish them the best, and will keep you informed on how to help. Their website is and their phone number is 773.891.2889

we will keep you updated on any progress.
On a personal note (from JP): I am sorry I haven't had the opportunity to visit yet. I do not want to see any further businesses close, especially nice sit-down restaurants.  we need these businesses to thrive if we want to see a positive tunraround.

brian garner's concession speech

Here is 6th ward Aldermanic candidate Brian Garner's concession speech, found on Facebook.
BrianGarner6thMy Healing The Ward Speech

First I'd like to thank God because through God not some things but all things are possible.

I'd like to thank my lovely wife Dana who from the beginning believed in me and said baby the kids and I are with you and when you have your mate say that they believe in you and your kids say they are proud of you there's no greater feeling so I have already won. So Thank You!

I want to thank my Mother who's had some health challenges lately and I want to thank my (3) three loving sister’s Cheryl, Theresa and Maria they all have been with me every step of the way in this campaign thank you and I love you.

To my mother-in-law Wanda because if it wasn't for her introducing me to her Beautiful intelligent and bossy daughter Oops did I say that I’m sorry I digress!!!

All kidding aside, God only knows where my life would be right now. Thank you Wanda and I Love you.

I would like to thank all of my family the Garners, Norris, Toles, Wright’s and Jackson Families, thank you, thank you, thank you and I love you guys.

I would like to thank the world’s best and hardest-working campaign staff ever.

To My sister-in-law Kellye who was my office manager and logistics and ground support director, Kellye we could not have done this without you I love you, I love you, I love you. Thank you

To Isaiah who handled his Street Team like a conductor directing a symphony I want to thank you man and your team.

To Marie who handled our Face book and Twitter our graphics sometimes office support she was a true "go to girl" in this campaign who unselfishly just did whatever you asked. Thank you.

To Latonia, my treasurer who kept me on the straight and narrow on the finances! Thank you.

To Charlotte who handles our research getting in and doing whatever you asked of her. Dana and I have said we've got to figure out a way to claim her on our taxes she spent so much time at our house. Thank You Charlotte!

To Q Lacey, who had me looking good out there on the campaign trail from my ties to my socks and to Rhonda and her husband Clayton this couple they are some praying people and I don't know what I would've done without their support and their prayers thank you

To my guys the Garner Safety foot and bicycle patrol! I can't say enough about these men putting themselves on the line to protect the 6th Ward residents and me. Some days it got a little hairy out there. These guys were right there patrolling the neighborhood's patrolling the bus stops and train stops just being strong African-American man believing in a cause!

Andre, DeBo and Ernest and I want to thank you.

My biggest thank you goes to the 6th Ward residents from the coffee sips to the beautification neighborhood makeovers to movie night and Bingo with the seniors to the festivals to the meetings to speaking to congregations at the churches throughout the 6th Ward and to the the knocking on doors!

I just want to say thank you for receiving me and listening to my platform and my message.

Education, Jobs, and Safety!

I will continue to fight for this!

I want to thank every person who lived in the ward or who didn't live in the ward who provided support for this campaign from monetary, volunteering, phone banking, babysitting to making late night food runs!

Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart

If I have forgotten anyone because everyone has played a part in this campaign please blame it on my head and do not blame it on my heart because I am appreciative to everyone who helped in this campaign I just want to say thank you.

Thank you

Brian Garner



Thursday, February 26, 2015

There should be an elected school board
It took me a while to come to this conclusion but I've finally decided that there should be an election school board in Chicago. Not saying that this is the best solution for our schools in Chicago, but it's an idea that should be considered.

The only caveat that I've considered is that there must be a hybrid board where the people can elect members and the mayor can appoint members. This has always been my thought however the Chicago Sun-Times solidified this much further in an editorial.

This Tribune editorial makes further points about the various points of school boards whether hybrid, elected or totally appointed. To be sure, I have little problem with the Mayor of Chicago having some form of direct influence on the Chicago Public Schools. This is one reason I support a hybrid board.

I also believe that the most important interest group - the parents need representation to influence the decisions of the Chicago Public Schools. I propose that a majority of the members can be elected to the board of which there are currently seven members. Therefore four members should be elected and three should be appointed. In addition those four elected should be from districts divided up at least four ways throughout the city. The mayor can appoint the people he wants on the school board with their expertise and the people can elect who they want on the board of ed.

Furthermore I recognize how at time public education can be very politicized. Unfortunately the public schools have borne a lot of negative press over the years and this may cause more politicization. I hope that future members of the bord of ed can recognize that the most important thing they have to do is ensure that the youth of the city of Chicago are educated and ready for the world.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mayoral results by Ward (6,8,9,17,21)

Here are the mayoral results according to the wards we generally cover.

The mayor had about 43-42% of our communities' vote (slightly lower than the citywide average). Jesus Garcia and Willie Wilson were very close between 22-27%), with Dock Walls and especially Bob Fioretti (who had an office on 79th street near Calumet) doing relatively poorly.  The full results, from which the following are from, are located at

Votes Cast





We may try to post a breakdown by precinct (as available from The Chicago Board of Elections website) in the near future, so see which precincts favored which candidates.

What was the talk of your neighborhood?

Election results - and a few thoughts/questions

Here are the results, as of , with at least 96% of precincts reporting in . Those in a runoff are in bold. Winners are bold and underlined.

Alderman 6th Ward
46 out of 48 precincts (95.83 %)

RODERICK T. SAWYER5,54155.99 %
RICHARD A. WOOTEN2,60526.32 %
BRIAN T. GARNER1,75017.68 %

Alderman 9th Ward
50 out of 51 precincts (98.04 %)

ANTHONY A. BEALE7,10862.55 %
HAROLD ''NOONIE'' WARD1,15910.20 %

Alderman 21st Ward
52 out of 54 precincts (96.30 %)

MARVIN MCNEIL1,74714.10 %
HOWARD B. BROOKINS, JR.5,16141.67 %
JOSEPH C. ZIEGLER, JR.1,2349.96 %
PATRICIA A. FOSTER1,27310.28 %
KEN LEWIS8406.78 %

And for a few wards neighboring our main focus:

Alderman 17th Ward
41 out of 41 precincts (100.00 %)

DAVID H. MOORE4,41353.17 %
JAMES E. DUKES88710.69 %
Moore narrowly lost a runoff last election.

Alderman 8th Ward
55 out of 56 precincts (98.21 %)

MICHELLE A. HARRIS8,86668.63 %
FAHEEM SHABAZZ2,04315.82 %
TARA F. BALDRIDGE2,00915.55 %
Michelle Harris is the incumbent.


And the Mayor's race:
Votes Cast


Question: will McNeil get support from the Chicago Teachers Union and/or work with Garcia's campaign?


Any surprises for you, the reader? Your thoughts and analysis?

In a separate post, we'll break down some votes by ward (at least for Mayor).   Details are now up (as of 11:35pm) at

Polls open today

Today the people of Chicago will elect not only their Aldermen, but also a mayor, clerk and treasurer. In addition in 37 wards there is a referendum on whether or not Chicago should have an elected school board.

Many of you probably early voted already and for those of us who haven't then find your local polling place here. Polls are open from 6 AM to 7 PM today. If you have no idea who's on the ballot before you hit the ballot box go here again, input your information and look for a sample ballot tab.

Or you can call the Chicago Board of Elections at 312.269.7900

I want to also refer to the Sixth Ward's 2015 page for candidates running for Alderman in wards 6, 9 and 21. Hopefully I will be able to post election results here for these candidates.

Please vote today and have a direct effect on the future of our communities for the next four years.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ted Williams III interviewed on #Aldertrack

[VIDEO] So if I read the e-mail correctly, this is the last of the Aldertrack interviews with candidates for Alderman in 2015. And current series ended with Ted Williams running in the 9th ward.

Alas Mike Foucher never interviewed any of the many candidates - including the incumbent in the 21st ward. He had interviewed Michael LaFargue & Noonie Ward previously in the 9th. Also Ald. Roderick Sawyer and Richard Wooten in the 6th.

Well I hope you have watched those interviews and will make an informed choice in tomorrow's election. Anything said by Professor Williams would sway your vote for alderman?

If you haven't watched the GCA 6th ward forum...

[VIDEO] If you haven't had a chance to, you should watch the GCA 6th ward candidate's forum held last month (JP posted on Thursday). I've only gone through at least 15 to 20 minutes of the video and some good answers to very good questions by the candidates.

They talked about the remap which altered the look of the 6th ward after the 2010 census. Most of the candidates seems to be willing to move forward with those new areas that were added to the 6th. It was mentioned the neighborhoods that were lost in the remap (such as West Chesterfield, Roseland Heights) in addition to the institutions such as Chicago State University.

All the same, the bottom line is now that it seems the city is moving forward with the remap the new areas which especially includes a greater area of Englewood how does the new and older areas of the 6th ward progress until it's time for the next remap after the 2020 census.

They talked about Black owned businesses as well. What can we do to get a greater share of Black owned businesses in the 6th ward. In addition to that what types of businesses are we looking for.

So while we mentioned the businesses along 75th Street one of the few areas in Chicago - if not the whole county -  with a significant presences of Black owned businesses there are other thoroughfares such as 79th street to utilize as well. Also Wooten made a good point about restaurants we've already lost a few longtime restaurants in the ward and those could be valuable businesses in the future.

And the next point about eateries is that they're the next front in the whole food desert debates. Yeah a lot of focus had been on grocery stores in our community but one way to provide healthy foods in our communities is providing a food establishment that serves them. Who says the only options are fast food or chicken places?

Another good point duing the course of this debate is over what to do with our closed schools. Do we turn them into community centers, senior housing, trade schools or otherwise retain their educational functions? Personally we should turn our closed schools into at least community centers that would involve education functions such as job training or even allowing adults to get their GEDs.

And I'm sure there's more than that to consider in that almost one and a half hour video of the GCA forum.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mayor Emanuel mailer

Over the weekend you may have gotten this in additon to several mailers from Rahm Emanuel's campaign. This is of most interest because of Emanuel's role in the shutdown of CTA's Dan Ryan branch of the Red Line in 2013. You may have also seen a TV ad about this highlighting how he made sure minority contractors worked on the rebuilding of that branch.

Unfortunately these are the only mailers I have received from any of the candidates for mayor and there is a decent number of challengers to Mayor Emanuel this year. Including perennial candidate Dock Walls, Willie Wilson, Bob Fioretti, and Chuy Garcia. I also wanted to note this article from the Reader about the mayor never leveling with the public on his decision to close mental health clinics around the city.

Finally here's that red line ad from the mayor's campaign actually I never realized he did two of them. This is the one I found on YouTube [VIDEO]
So has anything said my any mayoral candidates including the current Mayor that could sway your vote on Tuesday?