Sunday, April 26, 2015

The NFL draft is coming to town...

Whether or not you're a fan or Mayor Emanuel or even if you have buyer's remorse as of the last election but he does seem to have a talent for bringing events to our city. I'm sure many football fans are happy about the NFL draft coming to Chicago this year as usually the draft is held in New York City. Of course here's hoping you don't plan to drive downtown during the coming week.

The Sun-Times writes about bringing the draft to the "windy city". If they choose to remain in Chicago for the foreseeable future the question is how the rest of the city could benefit.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Andrea Zopp for US Senate

The Capitol Fax writes about the head of the Chicago Urban League Andrea Zopp considering a run against current US Senator Mark Kirk. He writes about the many negatives if she makes her leap in next year's race. Do you like her chances?

So what happened to this much humbler mayor...

[VIDEO] Before the recent runoff and after we heard about Emanuel becoming much more humble and cooperative. And then we see the Mayor's vehicle blowing through those dreaded red light cams. Those cams were a campaign issue during the municipal races this year.

Chicagoist shares a post from Crime in Wrigleyville & Boystown with videos such as the one above showing the Mayor's vehicle running red lights and recorded on those threaded red light cams. This isn't entirely humble...

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

2015 elections unfinished business

We weren't really following closing those elections which were entirely close, but we know that election officials here in Chicago were still counting votes. While we're going outside of our scope a bit in the nearby 10th ward we know who the winner is:
The Board of Election Commissioners on Tuesday counted the final votes from the April 7 runoff election, and challenger Susan Sadlowski Garza ended up topping incumbent Ald. John Pope (10th) by just 20 votes.

The final tally, to be certified and published by the board on Thursday, saw Garza with 5,825 votes and Pope with 5,805.

As the counting went on over the two weeks since the runoff, most races already had clear winners, including of course the re-election of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, but the final absentee and provisional votes trickling in decided the battle between Pope and Garza on the far Southeast Side.

Tuesday afternoon's count at the election board found Garza finishing with a 20-vote cushion after starting the day 33 votes up. Pope claimed 24 late absentees to 13 for Garza to cut her lead to 22, but Pope could make up only two more on provisional ballots.

Garza claimed 50.1 percent of the 11,630 votes cast in the 10th Ward, while Pope had 49.9 percent.

Both sides, however, have already filed suit for a recount, and Pope has retained crack election lawyer Michael Kasper, so the case seems headed to Cook County Circuit Court. According to election board spokesman Jim Allen, the declared victor typically drops the suit, forcing the runner-up to proceed as plaintiff. From that point, the election board follows any instructions given by the assigned judge in handling a recount.
Also another close election in another part of the city the 31st ward:
Longtime 31st Ward Ald. Ray Suarez has been forced into retirement after a final count of votes Tuesday from the April 7 runoff election showed him losing to challenger Milagros "Milly" Santiago by 79 votes.

A week ago, when it seemed clear he was headed to a narrow loss, Suarez said he would not challenge the results. Suarez, chairman of the Housing Committee, was first elected alderman of his Northwest Side ward in 1991.

Santiago is a former Telemundo and Univision reporter who is mulling whether to join the Progressive Reform Caucus that's often at odds with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Suarez, by contrast, was a loyal Emanuel supporter.
Ah the Progressive Caucus is growing in number. Yes they lost one thanks to the remap but the member of that body of independent Chicago Alderman remains largely intact and with all the incumbents bounced out of office will grow much more in influence. So here's what DNA Info says:
The seven members of the Progressive Reform Caucus running for re-election all won, and they could be joined by as many as seven others.
So we could have 14 members of the Progressive Caucus. I would like to see what would be on their agenda when inaugurated next month.

DNA Info: Kennedy King College to Host Career Fair on Wednesday

Get your professional attire ready and some resumes:
Employers from companies such as Mariano's, James McHugh Construction Company and Chicago Public Schools will be at Kennedy King College's career fair on Wednesday.

The event will be held at the college's U Building, 740 West 63rd St., from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
You may have also seen a quick blurb on this at Concerned Citizens of Chatham

Kennedy King College Job Fair Wednesday April 22, 2015 The Great Hall at KKC 63rd Halsted 10 am- 1 pm
Posted by Concerned Citizens of Chatham on Monday, April 13, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

Since it seems we're following the #Chiraq movie...

Well I want to know what this coming movie is all about. We know very little about other than some of Chicago's politicians aren't very happy with the title of this film. The man who wants to put this film on screen appears to be saying very little about the story other than the subject matter.
When Spike Lee took the stage late Saturday at City Winery for the second of his two appearances that night, a question hung in the air. Would he open up about “Chiraq”? Slated to begin work in Chicago several weeks from now, the film project has become polarizing for its title alone, before even a single frame of the movie has been shot.

The answer was both yes and no — but mostly no. The event (booked before the news about “Chiraq” broke earlier this month) wasn’t designed as anything more than a backstage glimpse at Lee's nearly 30-year career in the movies, combining behind-the-scenes anecdotes and a flight of six wines paired with six extended film clips.

Any comment about “Chiraq” would have meant going off-script and probably allowing for some audience interaction — a tantalizing proposition from a wine-loosened man of the hour. But Lee, dressed in silver metallic sneakers and a dark grey sport coat with a small Nike logo, wasn’t going there.

That kind of reticence isn't unusual. Plenty of filmmakers would rather not elaborate on a project that’s still in the early stages. (And we’ve all seen the lengths directors of certain blockbuster movies go to in order to keep any information — even details that aren't actually spoilers — under wraps.)

Lee isn't obligated to reveal his plans for the movie, which he recently told Mayor Rahm Emanuel will be about black-on-black violence in the Englewood neighborhood. At the same time, I can't help but think his reluctance was a missed opportunity. This is a man who knows his mind and has never been one to avoid controversy. (His Wikipedia page has an entire section devoted to “controversial remarks,” which is longer than the section on his career.)
Perhaps this controversy is good for Spike's new movie. Perhaps Chicago will come out and see the movie in droves.

Chicago Tonight: Spike Lee Film #Chiraq Triggers Black-On-Black Violence Debate

[VIDEO] Little did I know when I posted excerpts of Mary Mitchell's column this morning that Chicago Tonight took on this subject on this past Thursday's program. BTW, if you're unable to watch the embedded video on this blog please click the "VIDEO" link within the brackets above.

Here's the description of the program you see above:
A new Spike Lee film about black-on-black violence that is still in early production has already stirred up controversy just with its title: Chiraq. Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he doesn't like it because it stigmatizes communities and gives the whole city a bad name. We talk with a local filmmaker with an anti-violence message, as well as experts on black-on-black violence to get their take on the controversy.

Joining us are Anthony Sturdivant, a man from the west side of Chicago who is trying to combat the gun violence in his community with a series of short films on YouTube called "Think Before You Shoot", Waldo Johnson, Associate Professor at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago, and Eddie Bocanegra, a former gang member who’s committed to preventing violence and Co-Executive Director of YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention programs.
A lot of focus is on the term "chiraq" what was it's origins and the responses to this title. For example, how many veterans of the Iraq War would challenge the "chiraq" designation.

Mitchell: 'Chiraq' critics should let Spike Lee do his thing

Spike Lee at Morehouse College's 2009 commencement - ajc
Mary Mitchell takes on the Chiraq controversy. It's the Spike Lee "Joint" that we've been hearing about and  re-elected Mayor Emanuel isn't happy about the title:
The flak that Oscar-nominated filmmaker Spike Lee is getting over his plan to title a movie “Chiraq” is proof that many of us are in denial.

When innocent people are getting shot while sitting in their homes, survivors must feel like they are living in a war zone.

Indeed, when Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, said “we drive faster” through the black community — a comment that was described by pundits as a “gaffe” — he was speaking the truth.

It’s not just white people who speed through some neighborhoods because of the high crime rates associated with black areas.
African-Americans have fled Chicago in droves in search of a safer environment.

But if Chicagoans are good at anything, they are good at putting a positive spin on conditions that other cities would label deplorable.

For instance, outsiders describe Chicago as one of the most segregated cities in America. Yet we describe it as a city of neighborhoods.
BTW, she got some quotes in from other Chicago politicians especially two alderman. One of those Alderman was quoted in an article linked above from Politico:
“To highlight the problems we are having with that type of name is an insult,” railed Ald. Anthony Beale (9th).

Ald. Will Burns (4th) has hinted that the city could use a $3 million tax break that Lee is seeking as leverage in the dispute.

That’s just going to make Chicago look worse on the national stage.

Frankly, if aldermen want to be outraged over something, they ought to be concerned that Chicago is becoming a place where hip-hop wannabes like Lil JoJo are gunned down.
Is this the first movie Spike Lee has made in Chicago. I wonder if this is the one time he's expanded out of New York. Regardless I'd just as soon reserve judgement until the movie finally comes out. Lee's movies are often pretty good.

BTW, what do you think of the title? Does it bother you? Are you ready to start the conversation on violence and crime in Chicago?

Friday, April 17, 2015

CBS Chicago: Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett To Step Aside
Interesting development:
Faced with a growing federal investigation, Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett will take a paid leave of absence.

Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale confirmed Byrd-Bennett will temporarily step aside.

“In light of the ongoing federal investigation and its impact on her ability to effectively lead Chicago Public Schools, Barbara Byrd-Bennett is taking a leave of absence from Chicago Public Schools effective immediately,” he said. “Board of Education Vice President Jesse Ruiz is taking the responsibilities of the chief executive officer while Byrd-Bennett is on leave. As board vice president for almost four years, and a former chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education, Ruiz has both the legal and educational expertise and experience to guide the district at this time while ensuring students and teachers continue to make academic gains in the classroom.”

Ruiz will serve as interim CEO as the district prepares to negotiate a new teachers’ contract this summer and deal with budget and pension shortfalls.
Byrd-Bennett, along with at least three other CPS aides, is a focus of the federal probe, along with the Wilmette-based SUPES Academy, which offers leadership training to principals. SUPES received a $20 million no-bid contract in 2013, right after CPS closed 50 schools.

The three other CPS officials are: chief of staff Sherry Ulery; Tracy Martin, head of strategic services; and Rosemary Herpel, a senior project manager.

The Chicago Teachers Union has said the investigation centered on Byrd-Bennett reflects a broader ethics problem at CPS, particularly among leaders.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sun-Times exclusive: Sen. Kirk won't be talking about race in the future

Lynn Sweet writes more about Sen. Kirk's comments made in a newspaper interview earlier this week:
Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., up for re-election, told the Chicago Sun-Times he won’t be talking about race or ethnicity in the future.

“I would say that whenever a targeted member talks about race or ethnicity, it is impossible for him to get it right. So I’ll leave it at that,” Kirk said.

Kirk is in one of the biggest Senate contests in the 2016 cycle. He is a major Democratic target and his main competition is Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.

Democrats jumped on Kirk after he made a comment about African-Americans at the end of a Peoria Journal Star interview – about how “we drive faster” through a black community.
And then Sweet got Chicago State President Wayne Watson to provide a quote:
When Kirk was running for Senate, he met with Watson and asked what he could do to help. To Watson’s surprise, he told me Kirk called “the day after he won.”

Together, they created what would become the Entrepreneurial Idol program at CSU.

Budding entrepreneurs compete for $7,500 and a chance to showcase their plan to business leaders and government officials. This year marks the fourth competition.

“The issue is not driving through the black community. The issue is what he’s done. . . . In this instance, Sen. Kirk’s actions . . . speak louder than his words, however one may want to interpret,” Watson said.
Read the whole thing and let us know what you think.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Press Release: Smart Meter Program Brings New Jobs to Chatham

Via Market Watch:
  • CHICAGO, Apr 13, 2015 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Today, U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush, the Chatham Business Association and ComEd announced a new pilot program to train 10 residents of Chatham and neighboring communities in outreach efforts to secure the installation of smart meters at local residences that will give customers access to greater savings once in place. The program participants will be trained by ComEd to talk to customers about the benefits of smart meters in an effort to help installers gain access to the existing meters. This pilot came as a result of a call to action by Rep. Rush to bring jobs and economic development to the Greater Chatham area.

    “I commend ComEd and the Chatham Business Association for launching this initiative in Chatham. By pairing employment opportunity with consumer education on energy efficiency, the entire community stands to gain. ComEd’s pilot program provides an example of the type of investment and collaboration that I encourage other corporations to follow. They can provide the impetus to turn Chatham around,” said Rep. Rush.

    “This digital smart-meter system will not only better power our homes and create real savings for families; it will also power job creation in our neighborhoods like Chatham," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “I applaud Congressman Rush and ComEd for partnering together to make sure that residents in Chatham have the skills and training to take part in this exciting 21st-century technological innovation that is bringing with it greater value to customers across Chicago and well-paying, middle-class jobs to families in Chatham.”

    "The Chatham Business Association (CBA) has been working with local officials to bring new opportunities to residents of the Chatham neighborhood,” said Melinda Kelly, Executive Director of Chatham Business Association. “CBA is glad to partner in this business savvy smart meter pilot program launched in Chatham. In week one, CBA’s Community Outreach team was able to contact 903 addresses, schedule 45 appointments and eliminate 83 vacant properties from ComEd’s Unable To Complete (UTC) list, bringing the benefits of smart meters and cost savings to area residents. If electric bills go down due to energy efficiency, that means more money in people’s pockets to spend in our neighborhood businesses, thus directly helping small businesses that are thriving in our community. On behalf of CBA’s Board of Directors, I would to thank Congressman Rush for his leadership and ComEd for working with CBA to create an innovative model program that creates jobs with economic value in our community.”

    “More than 3,600 full time equivalent jobs have been created as a result of Smart Grid work in northern Illinois,” said ComEd President and CEO Anne Pramaggiore. “This pilot program will help ComEd ensure all customers in the area can benefit from smart meter technology while meeting the need for jobs in the Chatham area. We are pleased to have worked with the Chatham Business Association and Rep. Rush to bring this program to the area.”

    The pilot is expected to last for three months and the results will be reviewed by all parties to determine next steps.

    Last year ComEd committed to bringing additional meter reader and customer service jobs to the Chatham area. Several Chatham area residents have applied and begun filling those positions.

    Public officials who support the endeavor include: 8th Ward Alderman Michelle Harris, 6th Ward Alderman Roderick Sawyer, 34th Ward Alderman and Budget Chair Carrie Austin, Senator Donnie Trotter, Congressman Danny Davis and Commissioner Richard Boykin

    Chatham Business Association Small Business Development Inc. (“CBA”) is a non-for-profit organization formed with a mission to promote political and economic stability in Chatham over 43 years ago.Since then as a result of our expertise in small business growth and development our market has expanded to serving businesses throughout the City of Chicago and State of Illinois.CBA’s purpose is to serve as a vehicle for enhancing social and economic growth of Chatham and surrounding communities by creating opportunities and programs that promote community stability.

    Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation EXC, +1.00% the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, with approximately 6.6 million customers. ComEd provides service to approximately 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information visit, and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

    SOURCE: ComEd

    ComEd Media Relations
    (312) 394-3500

    Copyright Business Wire 2015 
DNA Info also had an article about this.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

DNA Info: Planners Dreaming Up What's Next for Pullman National Monument

Via Chicago Neighborhoods
Mark Konkol who just so happens to be a Pullman resident talks about the implications of the neighborhood becoming a national monument as declared not long before the February municipal elections:
Pullman’s days as a cute historic district with a pretty cool house tour are officially over. Now, the neighborhood has a shot to be a national model for inner-city renewal, creative public transportation and urban tourism that has the attention of architects and city planners from across the country.

And for that, the National Park Conservation Association and the American Institute of Architects have rounded up some of the nation’s most prominent architects, economists, transportation gurus and historic preservationists for a three-day brainstorming session aimed on creative ways to capitalize on the neighborhood’s new national status.

Starting Thursday, about 40 professionals who know a thing or two about making big plans for urban areas will gather in Pullman to come up with plans for everything from renovating Metra stations and restoring historic ruins to coming up with a blueprint for bolstering local business and safer ways to walk across 111th Street.

“We want to visualize what Pullman might look like in 10 years with the influence of the national monument designation,” said Lynn McClure, the conservation association's Midwest senior director.
I could only envision this is not only good for Pullman but good for neighboring Roseland as well.

HuffPost: Mark Kirk Says People Drive Faster Through Black Neighborhoods

Sen. Mark Kirk
Disappointing coming from a Republican US Senator who just so happened to get elected to a seat once held by not only the current President of the United States but also the first Black woman elected to that presitigious body. Not only that he toured Englewood almost two years back:
The comment, with its racial undertones, came during a sit-down interview with the Peoria Journal Star and followed a question about how to encourage business development in Kirk's home state.

“I want to make sure we have elected people constantly looking at helping the African-American community,” Kirk said. “With this state and all of its resources, we could sponsor a whole new class of potential innovators like George Washington Carver and eventually have a class of African-American billionaires. That would really adjust income differentials and make the diversity and outcome of the state much better so that the black community is not the one we drive faster through." [emphasis added.]

The notion that people hit the gas when driving through black neighborhoods is a common racial stereotype about urbanization and criminal behavior among African-Americans. The fact that an elected senator from a state with a sizable black population would make such a comment was deemed unfortunate by at least one African-American leader in Illinois.

"I think what he was trying to say is, he was trying to relate that to crime. But boy, it was a poor choice of phraseology," said George Mitchell, president of the NAACP's Illinois State Conference.
Later a response from Sen. Kirk's office was added to this article:
Eleni Demertzis, Kirk's press secretary, emailed the following response to questions about the senator's comments from last week: "Anyone watching network news in Chicago is aware of the frequent killings and violence that affects various communities in Illinois. Senator Kirk is active in fighting gang violence, keeping assault weapons off the streets, and working within the African-American community to find aspiring entrepreneurs. No one can question Senator Kirk’s commitment to the African-American community."
What are your thoughts?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Dumke: Will the new Chicago City Council still be a rubber stamp?

Mick Dumke of the Chicago Reader begins to further examine if the new city council would be a rubber stamp. It was something I attempted to figure out last week:
Carlos Ramirez-Rosa says it's clear why he and more than a dozen other newcomers have been elected to the Chicago City Council, and why Mayor Rahm Emanuel had to fight so hard for his own reelection.

"What we've seen was a massive shake-up, especially by Chicago standards," says Ramirez-Rosa, who defeated 35th Ward alderman Rey Colon in February. Voters have decided that "it's important to have a group of folks who say they're 100 percent with the neighborhoods and that they're going to be independent. . . . I don't think Chicago politics can ever be the same."

True, the "shake-up" bar is low around here. At the very least, the City Council might not be quite the same.

When the new council meets for the first time next month after 18 runoffs, 14 aldermen will be sworn in who weren't there four years ago, assuming current vote totals hold up. Gone will be several aldermen who were mayoral loyalists and products of patronage organizations. And Ramirez-Rosa is right—most of the incoming aldermen have vowed to be independent and progressive.

But as he well knows, these aren't exactly promises till death do us part.
Read the whole thing

Saturday, April 11, 2015

DNA Info: Poor, Black Chicagoans Overwhelmingly Picked Rahm Over Chuy
Via Chicagosmayor ig
Mark Konkol breaks down the mayoral run-off from this past Tuesday:
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was dubbed "Mayor 1 percent" by his detractors, ended up winning votes from some of Chicago's poorest residents.

Nearly 60 percent of voters with an annual family income under $30,000 picked Emanuel, according to an Edison Research exit poll.

Sixty-one percent of Chicagoans most affected by poverty, crime and failing schools — poor black families who earn less than $50,000 a year — also voted for Emanuel.

That’s a significantly higher percentage than the 52 percent of black voters with annual household incomes that top $50,000 who voted for the mayor, said Edison Research executive vice president Joe Lenski.
Certainly a much different outcome than the signs I saw the weekend before the election hoped to project. I'm sure this helped:
In the end, those African American voters — some wrangled to the polls by a strong ground operation run by one of the late Cook County President John Stroger’s get-out-the-vote “generals,” Gerald Nichols — made all the difference for Emanuel.

“The swing voters were mainly black voters. There was no black candidate. They had to make a choice and they ended up choosing [Emanuel],” Lenski said.
So the mayor had some help getting across the finish line. That being said since many of his candidates lost in their races for the city council one can only wonder how he'll get along. Does Emanuel have the juice he had when he first got into office?

A comic book cafe

In recognizing that Chatham has a history of entrepreneurship, I found this concept of a comic book cafe interesting. In Philadelphia, a young lady Ariell Johnson - who understands "geek culture's importance to marginalized groups" - is about to open up this community oriented establishment.

I realize that over years there have been attempts at having an independent cafe on our part of town. For example Englewood has Kusanya Cafe and Chatham had the now closed Flecks Coffee. It's a great idea to have a shared space that's community oriented and certainly offer beverages and snacks for that purpose. The concept of a comic book cafe is very unique, and hopefully a success for Ms. Johnson in Philadelpia.

As much as I don't often enjoy being called a geek having been a Star Trek fan in addition to many comic books you can firmly place me into that category. Many of us are eagerly anticipating the release of the new Avengers movie coming out later this month. In addition to that I'm definitely going to see that Batman/Superman movie coming out next year.

Could such an establishment be welcome in our community? Check out this video from the future owner and let us know what you think of this unusual concept. Also refer to this future establishment's FB page.