Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tribune: Why some CPS schools must close

While schools haven't often been the subject of choice as late, I wanted to share this editorial that argues why some CPS schools must close. Perhaps some of you out there may have your thoughts on this subject.
By Dec. 1, Chicago Public Schools officials must deliver to state lawmakers a list of schools slated to close at the end of this school year. The district will release its criteria for making those decisions this week.

As many as 120 Chicago schools are likely to be on the chopping block because the district faces a $1 billion budget gap next year. And the following year.

This is a critical moment for CPS and its new CEO, Barbara Byrd-Bennett. Make no mistake: This will be painful. But scores of schools must be closed.

There are more than 100,000 empty seats in schools because CPS badly mismanaged its real estate portfolio over the past decade. Overall district enrollment has declined by 34,000 students since 2003. CPS built new schools to relieve overcrowding in some communities but failed to close enough of the older, emptier ones, often caving to community pressure.

Reality check: Keeping half-used buildings open is a huge financial drain the system can't afford.

CPS says it can save about $800,000 a year in operating costs by closing a school and reassigning kids to schools that have extra space. It also avoids the cost of capital improvements, and could generate some revenue through property sales.

Those closings alone won't eliminate this huge budget gap. But CPS simply can't operate more schools — heat more buildings, patch more roofs — than its students need. 
Read the whole thing before you comment.

Hat-tip District 299 blog!

Citizen: Chatham Movie House Closed, Owners Evicted

I wonder why this wasn't said in the mainstream press? The Chicago Citizen fills us in on why there were eviction notices at the Chatham 14 almost two weeks ago:
According to documents available on the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court’s website, the owner of the Chatham theater property is 210 W. 87th Chicago TH, LLC and eviction proceedings began in March. According to the electronic docket, the Starks owe at least $725,000.
When more quotes came out in various press releases it seems that the Starks' deny at least owing amusement taxes and even money to distributors. I wonder what was the nature of this debt.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Early Voting - A Sixth Ward view

Just wanted to write a brief entry on Early Voting in the 6th Ward.

On Saturday, my family wen tto Early Vote at Whitney Young Library at 2:10pm. Since it was a bit chilly outside, they had the line snake around the inside of the library. The line started by the aquarium, went past the south tables. We entered at edge of the children's section.

A couple of people saw the line, and the wait, and decided to leave. But many others stayed, so that the line strectched past the children's section.

We waited 2 hours from the beginning of the line until we actually voted. It was certainly inconvenient (we missed 1/2 of a Halloween party for my daughter's friend), but everyone had a good attitude about the wait, and it was gratifying to see so many people come out to vote. There were at least 2 or 3 first time voters who came out, and there was some small cheers that were heard.

Note: we will update this entry with actual statistics, when available.

Do YOU have a sotry about Early Voting? Please share it! We also welcome links to photos showing you with your early voting receipt.

Whether it's early voting at Whitney Young or at any of the other 50 locations, or at your designated polling place on the actual Election Day, PLEASE VOTE.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tribune: Girl missing from East Chatham now safe at home

Sapphire Redman
JP wrote about her last Saturday and now a positive outcome:
A missing 14-year-old girl who was last seen Sept. 10 in the East Chatham neighborhood on the South Side has been found and is home safe with her family, police said.

The last time anyone saw Sapphire Redman she was in the 8100 block of South Ingleside Avenue on Sept. 10, according to an alert from Area South detectives. She is home with her family as of this afternoon, police News Affairs Officer Laura Kubiak said.

She frequents the 7600 block of South Evans Avenue and the 7500 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue, the alert said.
We're all glad she's found and safely at home. Just curious as to where she's been for a month.

Why Do Blacks Trail in Benchmarks Leading to Middle Class? -

Another article published last month with regards to the Black middle class.
In each benchmark leading to the middle class, African-Americans trailed all racial groups from childhood to age 40. Only a third of blacks entered the middle class, compared with nearly 70 percent of whites and 52 percent of Hispanics.

A Brookings Institution report, “Pathways to the Middle Class: Balancing Personal and Public Responsibilities,” shows that children who achieve professional success are disproportionally from higher-income and white families; those who never move up come from lower-income or black families, or both.

While high poverty rates can help explain these numbers, other obstacles to the middle class include teenage and unwed pregnancies and criminal convictions, said Juan Williams, a Fox News commentator who appeared on the Brookings panel.

Another avenue that slows ascension is poor education. In early childhood, 56 percent of black 5-year-olds possess adequate pre-reading and math skills and demonstrate behaviors considered “school-appropriate,” compared with 61 percent of Hispanics and 68 percent of whites.

The road ahead for blacks is riddled with obstacles. By age 11, only 52 percent of black kids have adequate English and math skills, compared with 73 percent of white youngsters.
Read the whole thing!

JP personal account of Chatham 14 reopening

I edited from the original Chatham 14 reopens post. JP's personal account deserves it's own post, perhaps more of you have your own thoughts about the reopening. Did you go on Friday? What are your thoughts? What did you observe? The words below are JP's

And a personal account from JP Paulus:
My family went to see "Here Comes The Boom" starring Kevin James (sidenote: a great movie to take youth to) this Friday for their 5pm show on Friday, Oct. 26. We tried to see it on October 19, and that's when we broke the news here. What I noticed tonight: more security than usual. At least 2 cars patrolling, and at least 3 or 4 security personnel. The credit card machines were not working; it was cash only for that night. As far as attendance, the parking lot definitely had people, but not as many as on a typical Friday night. At Here Comes the Boom, at 5pm, there were only about 8 people in that theater screen. Despite the low attendance, the staff was very positive and obviously happy to be back in operation.  I also saw someone wanting to go to the Englewood Film Festival. The person at the ticket booth said, she didn't know about whether it was showing. I didn't get a chance to see the resolution of that quest.

Chatham 14 Theater re-opens & press releases

Worlee wrote a paragraph about the status of the Chatham 14 and this article answers a question I've had in mind for a while. Who is the new company coming in to manage that Chatham?
Day-to-day operations will now be handled by F and F Management, and F and F vice president John Scaletta said in the statement the firm “recognizes the importance” of the theater as a member of the community.

“[We] will continue working with local organizations that have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with the Chatham Theater,” Scaletta said in the statement.

The theater employs about 30 people, and the Starks remain part-owners of the building.
Thanks to Worlee making contact we already know that Marcus Theaters - who operated ICE's three theaters until 2007 - would not be returning to operate the Chatham 14.

Also Chinta Strausberg sent us a brief article, which outlines some of the issues and alerts us that there is a PR campaign continuing. Also the Englewood Film Festival continues at the Chatham 14 as well:
Keeps Englewood Film Festival
By Chinta Strausberg

The ICE Theater, owned by Alisa and Donzell Starks, re-opened today, and the Englewood Film Festival is continuing at the 87th and the Dan Ryan Show, Michael Silver, a partner in that venture, confirmed Friday.

Silver told this reporter that the staff will remain the same and that he paid them for the week the theater was closed.

Asked about the firing of the black security firm, Silver said, “We have an African American security detail.” When asked if that company is white-owned, Silver said, “We had to change it because we changed management. That is regular procedure to hire a new security firm when new management comes in.”

He has hired Tracey Alston as his PR person who will represent the Chatham Theater. She does not represent the Starks.
By request from Chinta Strausberg, Ms. Alston's phone number has been removed.

What can we take from this? The Starks' remain the owners of this property, however, day-to-day management of this property now is under a management company. The partner of the Chatham 14 seems to be taking the lead on this facility. Also I'm glad that the 30 workers here are compensated for the week that this movie house has been closed.

Oh yeah back to the Sun-Times, more developments:
Venisha Johnson, general manager of the theater for the past 10 years, said in the statement that “plans are in the works to revamp the theater ... including digital projection with 3-D capabilities, new carpeting, seating upgrades and an enhanced menu.”
It has been mentioned in a previous posting, the Chatham 14 expects to have a conversion to digital projection and other upgrades to the theater. I'm still a long way from considering this news an exciting time. Hopefully the past week will be the last time Chatham 14 is closed!

Friday, October 26, 2012

SATURDAY: 6th Ward Shred-A-Thon

There was a posting of this on our FB page. It's coming tomorrow at the soon to open 6th Ward Service Office at 8001 S. King Dr. Refer to image above for more details!

Chatham 14 Will Reopen But with no ICE

We received the weekly showtimes email and noticed that it only included the showtimes for Lawndale. We inquired and received a response from Mrs. Alisa Starks that the theater is reopening but with ICE branding and new management. Per pother reports, the Starks will still retain ownership along with Mr. Michael Silver but have relinquished day to day operations control.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

3 City Colleges to prepare students for jobs in growth industries - Chicago Sun-Times

3 City Colleges to prepare students for jobs in growth industries - Chicago Sun-Times

Two south side colleges are getting makeovers and a third is mentioned:

Daley College will make the switch to advanced manufacturing with the help of Solo Cup Co., WaterSaver Faucet Co. and Arrow Gear. Students will be trained in computerized numeral control machining and factory machining. Both require a heavy emphasis on math to direct and maintain computer-guided heavy equipment.

Workers in those fields can typically earn anywhere form $10- to $23-an-hour to start.

Daley is currently the only school in Illinois with two high-tech welding machines that gives students access to hands-on training.

Kennedy-King College will train students for 44,000 job openings in the culinary and hospitality industry with help from Washburne Culinary Institute alumus Jimmy Bannos, owner of Heaven On Seven and Purple Pig restaurants.
Worth mentioning of course:
Olive-Harvey will focus on transportation and logistics and build a new, $42.2 million Transportation, Distribution and Logistics Center to train students for 28,000 jobs over the next decade in those fields.

The 200,000-square-foot building will replace 112,000 square feet of temporary classroom space adjacent to the main Olive-Harvey building.
So you can get trained after high school for a vocation or career at our city colleges. I made sure to note the colleges that are on the south side, but of course those are not the only colleges that anyone can enroll in.

Woodlawn Wonder: Race, Real Estate and The Bank Of America

It was in the news recently that Bank of America takes better care of foreclosed properties in white areas than they would in Black or "minority" areas. Here's a story from the Tribune:
A national fair housing group has added Chicago and two other cities to its complaint charging that Bank of America Corp. takes better care of foreclosed properties in white communities than those in predominantly minority neighborhoods.

The inclusion of Chicago, along with Milwaukee and Indianapolis, brings to 13 the number of cities included in the National Fair Housing Alliance's complaint originally filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in September involving eight cities. Two other cities were added earlier this month.

The Washington, D.C.-based alliance, a consortium of private, nonprofit fair housing groups, alleges that the lender "has a systemic and particularized practice" of handling foreclosed properties differently depending on race and color, and the practice has occurred at least since 2011.
Meanwhile in commenting on this story the Woodlawn Wonder at her blog  - I Hate My Developer - offers her 2 cents:
Yesterday the Chicago Tribune reported that Bank of America has been accused of taking better care of foreclosed properties in predominately white neighborhoods than they do in minority neighborhoods.

Oh boy here we go.

Topics of race and racism are always incendiary.

Nonetheless, when I do discuss issues of race with people I don't know (which I rarely do), I take an emotionless position. Instead of ranting and raving about institutional and casual racism I discuss facts.

Most commenters on this story were saying that the issue was not about race but rather one of return on investment (ROI) or sound business principles.
You should read the rest of her posting, so now we go down the road of race in talking about foreclosure in "minority" communities. She had the right approach in not allowing emotion to enter into a discussion such as this. This became a racial discussion when she only noted that foreclosed properties should be properly secured, but there are those who think such properties would only be broken into in many minority areas.

All the same, many in this area have seen the effects of foreclosure. We've covered squatters although I could drive around certain neighborhoods and note all the boarded up properties that are seen on this part of town. To be sure, I'm not entirely certain if vandalism is an issue.

Still all the same, any property that doesn't have anyone living on the property - especially a foreclosure - should be properly secured. There shouldn't be an argument on whether that should occur in a "minority" community or not.

What say you?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Early Voting started, and write-in vote options

Monday was the beginning of Early Voting in Chicago, and it runs until Saturday November 3. You can vote Monday-Saturday, 9am -5pm in 51 locations. On Sunday, October 28, there are 3 locations you can vote (though somewhat far from the 6th and 9th wards).

The 6th Ward's location to vote is the Whitney Young Library, 7901 S. King Drive. The 9th Ward's location is Palmer Park, 201 E. 111th Street. However, you may vote at any of the other 49 sites (and those from outside the ward, but within Chicago, may vote at Whitney Young).

More information on Early Voting from the Chicago Board of Elections website.

According to that website, the 6th ward was #6 among the early voting locations with 419 voters, 9th ward was # 15 with 350 voters. Mt. Greenwood Park (which is one of the 3 Sunday locations) had the 2nd most with 494 voters. The Chicgao Board of Elections (also a Sunday voting location) had 1,741 out of the total 15,711 votes cast in the city.

In addition, there a few candidates who have registered with the Chicago Board of Elections to run as write-in candidates for several offices, particularly a few for our area.

Early Voting line at Whitney Young Library on Monday, 8:59am.
Here is their info:
  • Darnell B. Macklin of 7927 S. Eberhart Chicago 08/22/12 =  State House of Representatives 34th
  • Xavier (X) Roman of 10749 S. Ewing Av. Chicago 08/29/12 = State Senate 17th
  • John Hawkins of 4531 S. Spaulding Av. Chicago 09/06/12 = U.S. Congress 1st
The full listing of write-in candidates for Chicago is here.

As we know, living in this city, many offices are essentially decided during the Democratic primary, and voting in the general election is basically a formality.

People may choose not to vote for an office as a sign of protest. But that will not register with voting results -- 90% of voters could choose not to vote for an office, but if there is no challenger, the results could register as 100% of the people voted for a candidate. This is important info, not just for challengers, but the incumbent as well. Without something to contrast, he incumbent wouldn't know what parts of their district have concerns. Some of those anti-incumbent votes will include people who would automatically vote against teh establishment, but there might be a portion that have legitimate concerns.

Thanks to everyone who has voted already. If you have not, whoever you decide to vote for, PLEASE VOTE!

WBEZ: South Side movie theater Chatham 14 expected to re-open Friday

Credit: Zol87/flickr
I'm not certain this is the story JP heard yesterday on Chicago Public Radio, but here's a write-up about the Chatham 14. They have been closed since Friday and it appears after a full week they will re-open.
Now the theater may be re-opening. In an e-mail, owner Alisa Starks (who along with her husband Donzell opened the theater in 1997) said, "It's been a challenging process. But the theater is expected to be open by Friday." Starks also said a new company will manage it.

The rift that apparently caused the original closure, a conflict between the Starks and their investor, Michael Silver, seems to have been smoothed over, at least temporarily. Starks told me, "Most positively, our investor has recently committed to making needed capital improvements."

What led to the shuttering of the Chatham had been hard to sort out. In the immediate aftermath of the closing, there were various reports, starting with this community blog. A Chicago Sun-Times article claimed the Starks have a history of not paying city amusement taxes and had been to court with movie distributors. And CBS2 quoted sources saying things went sour between the Starks and Silver.

The Starks own outright their Lawndale 10 theater on Roosevelt Road and a shuttered property at 62nd and Western. At Chatham both Starks and Silver have discussed plans for digital convergence and other improvements, but those can't proceed without some sort of resolution between the partners.
 BTW, this community blog is in fact The Sixth Ward.

In any event, let's hope that the conflict between the Starks' and Mr. Silver is smoothed over and that the theater will reopen this Friday or in 10 days.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Press Relase: ICE Chatham to re-open this Friday

Thanks to Leslie Honore and Greater Chatham Alliance, who passed on this press release.

Also, WBEZ (Chicago Public Radio) released an in-depth story on ICE Theater this afternoon, which included a mention that there would be an official statement either today or tomorrow (No link to that story was available. It aired Tuesday at ~ 6:22pm). Here is that official statement:

Not sure Englewood would like this one...

I'm not sure if a link to this site was shared earlier on this blog, but this site makes images that are certainly insulting to neighborhoods and suburbs around the Chicagoland area. Englewood gets the treatment you see above. The site is called Slightly Insulting Chicago Posters and I checked the site out after a posting about another image from there over at Sloopin.

click for larger resolution
While not meant to be "slightly insulting" this almost evokes The Chicago Neighborhoods' brand for Englewood the background pic utilized was of the "murder castle" mentioned in the image above.
The brand you see to the left caused a stir on this blog when it was originally posted.

In any case what you see above certainly is meant to be sarcastic. The murder castle itself at 63rd & Wallace is long gone. But as with the case of the earlier brand from Chicago Neighborhoods, it may not help Englewood's image as a violent neighborhood.

I wonder what the residents of Englewood think about this.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Englewood Film Festival

The Englewood Film Festival is

 built to enrich the community of Englewood. In their  second year, the event continues to 

bring local access and exposure to a first class festival. Residents enjoy opportunities to 

meet aspiring filmmakers and industry notables, learn about film careers, and enjoy a 

family friendly environment.

The Englewood Film Festival is also an excellent vehicle for filmmakers to enter their work 

and establish festival credits. The goal of the panels, films, and overall event is this: To 

shine light on the heart of a community plagued with negative publicity. 

The festival run from October 25-28, 2012 and will screen films at Kennedy King College and other venues.

 The festival kicks off on Thursday, October 25, 2012 with an opening reception honoring Englewood 

resident the late Bernie Mac. For the full schedule go to 

CBS Chicago: ICE Theater In Chatham Closes Its Doors After 15 Years

UPDATE: So basically since I didn't watch the video before I posted this story, Tucker said that a man claiming to be the new tenant of the Chatham 14 property said that the theaters will reopen in 10 days! Some kind of way today was floated but we shall see in the next few days!

[VIDEO] It's a respectable 15 years, but this hurts for sure. This story aired on CBS 2 this afternoon and Dorothy Tucker also takes a look at the shocking closure of the Chatham 14 theaters.
Don and Alisa Starks opened the theater back in 1997. Sources say in 2007 they partnered with businessman Michael Silver and that the partners are now in the middle of a financial dispute.

Signs on the door said the theater will reopen under new management.

Sources told CBS2 the Starks could be forced out of their share of the business. Community activists don’t want to see that.
I'm sure many of you are wondering what happened here? How did this theater find itself with an eviction notice on the doors and signs that said it will reopen under new management.

It's also very sad to find out that the Starks' may find themselves forced out of the business they created. What I accept is that this is business. We could get attached to the people who run the business but if they business isn't making any money then changes are made. In this case changes mean the original owners or management are forced out.

Hopefully the Chatham 14 is reopened and right now we can only speculate on how this is likely to happen. Now we know that there is a financial dispute between Silver and the Starks'. We also now know one reason there's an eviction notice over at the Chatham 14. From last Friday's Sun-Times article.
However the company frequently had trouble with the city for non-payment of amusement taxes and was in and out of court with assorted movie distributors.
Like I said, we can only speculate on what's going on. While we're speculating, the audience that would've went here to watch a movie such as Alex Cross (for you Tyler Perry fans) they instead have to go to theaters in the South Loop, Ford City, or even suburban Lansing, IL. Let's not forget there are also theaters in Chicago Ridge and Crestwood. Those are also nearby.

Whatever emerges, let's hope that this theater not only continues to serve the communities that it has previous with theaters in Englewood which are currently closed and Lawndale. Also let's hope they continue to employ people from the surrounding communities.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ben Wilson: A Dream Unfulfilled

Ben wilson poster   Basketball fans know the names Marcus Liberty, Nick Anderson, Derrick Rose and the 2012-13 consensus #1 high school basketball player Jabari Parker. Marcus Liberty, from Chicago King was the #1 player in the country in 1985 and the rest attended Simeon High School. Chicago basketball fans know all those names and one more Ben Wilson. Ben Wilson became the first Chicago Public League basketball player to be named the consensus #1 basketball player in the country.

 17-year-old Ben (Benji) Wilson was a symbol of everything promising about Chicago. A sweet-natured youngster from the city's fabled South Side, Chatham community, and America's top high school basketball prospect. Nicknamed "Magic Johnson with a jump shot," Wilson's natural talents and drive assured his best years were yet to come.  Ben Wilson  was tragically killed in November 1984 the day before his senior season ,the outpouring of grief city-wide was unprecedented.

 While I understand this ESPN produced this documentary for television I felt that this documentary needed to be shown on the big screen. I feel that all high school students and athletes especially basketball players need to see this documentary. They need to understand that the senseless violence must stop and the hurt of this violence affects more than the person it is afflicted on but it hurts family,friends, team mates, communities, etc.

 I was present at the memorial put on by his Simeon teammates. The memorial held on the courts he made at Cole Park,was attended by Chicago High School basketball elite. Recently, Cole Park has again become a place where basketball best play as the former #1 college player and the current #1 high school playerhave recently played. Unfortunately, I also saw first hand the pain of his death that still exist.

 The timing of this documentary is amazing as in 1984, the 2012-13 consensus #1 high school basketball player again is a Simeon student Jabari Parker.

  The producers and ESPN thought this documentary needed to be seen as well. The documentary has been shown at film festivals around the country including the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Last month a special screening took place for the family and close friends on one night and Nike sponsored an invitation only screening the next night at Simeon High School. Now it time for the rest of Chicago to see what so many have talked about.

The Chicago International Film Festival  screened the documentary, three times last week including two screeings with the producers Chike and Coodie.

Finally,  ESPN will air the documentary Tuesday
 October 23,2012

For more information on Ben Wilson, please visit the official website for the Ben Wilson Foundation, Facebook or Twitter #neverforgotten

Saturday, October 20, 2012

From Tribune: Police Hunt for Girl Missing From East Chatham

A girl from East Chatham, Sapphire Redman, has been reported missing. Here is the story from Chicago Breaking News:

Police hunt for girl missing from East Chatham (Tribune illustration / October 20, 2012)
Police are searching for a missing 14-year-old girl who was last seen Sept. 10 in the East Chatham neighborhood on the South Side.

The last time anyone saw Sapphire Redman she was in the 8100 block of South Ingleside Avenue on Sept. 10, according to an alert from Area South detectives.

She frequents the 7600 block of South Evans Avenue and the 7500 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue, the alert said.

Redman is African-American, 5-foot-11, and has brown eyes and brown hair. She weighs 138 pounds and has a medium complexion.

Anyone with information should contact police, 312-747-8274

In the comments of this section, a reader pointed out that she has been missing for OVER a month,

Friday, October 19, 2012

ICE Theaters EVICTED from Chatham!

(see bottom of post for updates)   When stopping by the ICE Theaters in Chatham this evening, we discovered a neon green sign from the Cook County Sheriff's office that the ICE Theater was evicted form the building. According to the sign, this happened TODAY (Friday, October 19), some time just before the movies were about to begin.

There were addtional yellow signs which stated that the closure was temporary and would open soon. These were signs that looked like they were printed from a computer, which may indicate an actual attempt to re-open (as opposed to handwritten signs which are hastily put up to give hope to surprised customers).

Looking at the ICE Theater Facebook page, an entry was posted by ICE as of 12 noon , promoting the Alex Cross movie. However, a patron also wrote on the Facebook page that she went to the 12:30pm showing of that same movie, and the doors were closed. People who had purchased tickets in advance had no idea that they theater was closed, and neither did a busful of seniors.

We do not know if the ICE Theater in Lawndale is also closed, or who will be taking over the theater and at what time. We will attempt to do research (or pass it on to full time journalists) to find out what is happening, or has happened with Donzell & Alisa Starks, co-owners of ICE Development, L.L.C. (ICE Theaters is, or perhaps was, an African-American owned theater). We also do not know who currently owns the building (and thus have the right to evict ICE Development).

As of 6pm, there were no news stories from the Chicago Tribune's Chicago Breaking News site.

In January 2011, we re-posted here an entry Worlee through his Concerned Citizens of Chatham blog wrote about Stonehenge Capital Company financing $10 million to help re-open the Lawndale Theater, as well as renovations for Chatham. 

ICE Parking lot as of 5pm. There was security patrol car, as well as a Chicago Police car (on the side, out of range of this photo), and several cars who stopped by the see what happened as they were attempting to see a movie. )

A phone call to the theater's main phone number (773-892-3204) showed a few things:
  • In going to the Chatham section, and pressing the number for showtimes, a message simply said "The Theater is closed"
  • In going to the Lawndale section, the schedule given was for LAST week's schedule.
Also, a search with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds showed several mortgages taken out.

The Chicago Sun Times posted a story as of 9:33pm (and updated ~ 10:17pm)  regarding the closure in Chatham, but noted that the Lawndale facility was still in operation.

We emailed the President of Inner City Entertainment, Mrs. Alisha Starks about the status of Chatham 14 and she responded that the closure is the result of an internal dispute between the owners Mr and Mrs. Donzell and Alisha Starks and Mr. Michael Silver.

On Tuesday, we posted the official press release on the resolution to this matter.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Missing Chesterfield Teen FOUND alive!

This is a follow up to an earlier post.

We are happy to report that the missing teen has been found. Apparently, the community effort put pressure on the abductor the release the teen.

here are the e-mails we received from 6th ward Alderman Sawyer's Office:

Diamond Smith, 14, was found safe and sound. She was reported missing on Sunday, October 14 from her home in the Chesterfield neighborhood on the South side. After flyers were distributed throughout the community, Smith’s abductor let her go. She is in the hospital now and her family said they are glad she is safe. The Smith family thanked Sixth Ward Alderman Roderick T. Sawyer’s office, the police, and the entire community for their assistance.



Thank you so much for your help in finding Diamond, after flyers went up everywhere the person that she left with let her go. Diamond is in the hospital now but we are just happy she is SAFE! Thanks so much.

We will keep you updated on details as they arrive. Interestingly, a quick search of Chicago breaking News never revealed the initial story. That in itself is a story...

Thank you all for your prayers and support. Let's continue to look out for our citizens, especially our children!

Ask Geoffrey...about Bishop Ford

[VIDEO] On the latest edition of Chicago Tonight, Geoffrey Baer was asked several questions about Chicago-area landmarks. Well actually one of those questions is in fact about a landmark in town 60 miles from Springfield, IL. In any case one of those questions involved the Bishop Ford Freeway (or if you will the former Calumet Expressway). Anyway one of our blog posts about the expressway was a related link. The Bishop Ford question is the second one in this segment.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Family & Police seek help finding missing teen

The information below was just recieved from the office of 6th Ward Alderman Roderick Sawyer

Diamond Smith, 14, was reported missing from home in the Chesterfield neighborhood on the Southside on Sunday, October 14, 2012. She was last seen wearing a black jacket, plaid shirt, blue jeans with a red MP3 player.

Smith is an African-American female who is 5'7 and weighs 160 pounds. She has a medium complexion, sandy brown hair, brown eyes, and has a cut mark on both arms.

The Office of Sixth Ward Alderman Roderick T. Sawyer is assisting in police efforts to help find Smith. If anyone has any information that will assist police in finding Smith, please contact the Chicago Police Department-Area 2 Special Victims Unit at 312-747-8274 or call Alderman Sawyer's office at 773-635-0006.
I hope this young lady is found safe and sound!

CTA Opens Produce Market At Ashland/63rd Station « CBS Chicago

The CTA is trying something new at one of its ‘L’ stations — a produce market.

CTA riders already can buy plenty of newspapers, coffee, doughnuts and candy at many CTA stops, but now one train station will be selling apples, bananas, citrus and salads. It’s not in a trendy neighborhood, either, but at the hardscrabble Ashland/63rd terminal on the Green Line.

It’s a one-year experiment by Lunderman Produce, but if it works, CTA President Forrest Claypool said you might see more. What he hopes he does not see is more apple cores and garbage aboard Green Line trains as a result.

“We don’t want people littering our trains and eating their fried egg sandwiches on the train,” he said. “That’s just common sense.”
Via Curbed!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

GCA welcomes 6th District Police Commander Eric Carter

Cmdr. Carter at a GCA event in 2011
The Greater Chatham Alliance welcomes to their October meeting Commander Eric Carter and Lt. Cynthia Lance who is part of the Chicago Police's Troubled Buildings Unit. The meeting is at St. James Lutheran Church located at 8000 S. Michigan.

If you recall correctly Commander Carter paid a visit to a GCA monthly meeting once before when Superintendent Garry McCarthy didn't show up. That was in August 2011 and that was attributed to a scheduling conflict. McCarthy did show up at another GCA forum this past summer. I wanted to mention that small bit of trivia.

Hopefully, those who show up for this meeting will have nothing but questions for the Commander. Not only questions, but certainly bring to his attention issues that need an adequate solution. BTW, GCA credits the new State Rep. Elgie Sims with bring Commander Carter and Lt. Lance to the GCA meeting. The flyer and a form for the coming meeting are below.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Englewood: 'Not just a charity case,' residents say - Medill

64th & Halsted in 1955 - Englewood as it was!

Englewood: 'Not just a charity case,' residents say
Google “Englewood” and the results are news articles about violence, murders and gangs. Community members are working to rebrand Englewood as the thriving neighborhood it once was.

“Most people when they think of Englewood they think of the poverty, they think of homelessness, they think of the gangs,” said Asiaha Butler, president and co-founder of the Resident Association of Greater Englewood.

Butler said she wants people to know there are residents who are educated and have great jobs and haven’t turned their backs on the community. She added the focus on the community is often on the unemployed and homeless, but there are taxpayers working hard to improve the area.

During the 1850s the intersection of 63rd and LaSalle was known as “Junction Grove“ because of the thriving railroad industry. In the 1970s the community was home to a large shopping center that was the site of parades, concerts and radio broadcasts.

The panelists said community members are trying to relive those eras through civic engagement and empowerment. Volunteers are registering residents to vote, creating art pieces to display in vacant retail shops and cleaning up trash-filled lots. 
Read the whole thing!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A panorama

Click for a larger resolution

EDIT 6:56 PM Just uploaded this pic to Flickr to provide for a better resolution. Click the pic above or this link.

At random I just decided to get a panorama of Abbott Park (49 E. 95th St) on Friday afternoon. It was not long after dismissal at the nearby Harlan High School. If you see anyone in vests they're volunteers for CPS who work for an initiative called Safe Passages. You will see these individuals in yellow reflective vests not only before school starts on any given day but also at dismissal time. Also you will see the goal posts up and there is football practice going on at this time.

Tribune: Black middle class economically vulnerable

Article written by Chicago Tribune's Dawn Turner Trice. Another piece that concerned itself with the Black middle class and how they're struggling in the current economic environment. Late last month I posted another piece that concerned itself with the current condition of the nation's Black middle class.
For months, the presidential candidates have been trying to court the middle class, extending offers of tax cuts, lower gas prices and better schools. The message: America does well when the middle class does well. The corollary: We feel your pain.

But much less attention has been given to the black middle class, which since the recession and slow recovery has suffered massive decreases in wealth and high rates of home foreclosures. Blacks overall are experiencing a 13.4 percent unemployment rate, according to figures released Friday, much higher than the national rate of 7.8 percent.

The Pew Charitable Trusts' Economic Mobility Project recently released a report projecting that 68 percent of African-Americans reared in the middle of the wealth ladder will not do as well as the previous generation.

In August, the National Urban League's State of Black America 2012 report found that nearly all the economic gains that the black middle class made during the last 30 years have been wiped out by the economic downturn.

"This is a very dire situation," said Valerie Rawlston Wilson, an economist with the National Urban League Policy Institute. "Even for blacks who have college degrees, we've seen a doubling of their unemployment (rate) between 2007 and 2010."
I hope you read the whole thing and then share YOUR thoughts.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Jamahl Cole's Don't Vote, Don't Complain

Don't Vote, Don't Complain presentation by Jahmal Cole at Whitney Young Library from October 4, 2012 something mentioned in passing on this blog last month.

Follow Cole on Twitter on @rolemodelmoves

Part 1* [VIDEO]

*Part 2* [VIDEO]

The Talker: Ald. Sawyer (6th) suggests commuter tax in Chicago - Chicago News and Weather | FOX Chicago News

The Talker: Ald. Sawyer (6th) suggests commuter tax in Chicago - Chicago News and Weather | FOX Chicago News

[VIDEO] Ald. Sawyer was on FOX Chicago to talk about a commuter tax in our city:
Chicagoans were talking about making commuters pay Thursday night. No one likes to pay more city taxes, but some folks are paying none at all - suburbanites who come into Chicago to work.

They drive on Chicago's roads, walk on Chicago's sidewalks, drink Chicago's water and then leave.

Chicago's facing a huge budget deficit and at least one alderman is wondering whether it's time to force suburbanites to pay extra, if they work downtown.

Alderman Roderick Sawyer (6th) suggested the idea of a commuter tax after Mayor Emanuel released his budget to City Council on Wednesday.
Do you agree with this?

Hat-tip WG! :)

UPDATE: Man Killed After Being Shot In Head In Chatham

600 block E. 87th Pl Devlin Brown, Chicago Tribune / October 11, 2012
A much more recent report from the Chicago Tribune regarding the murder on the 600 block of E. 87th which is the Tribune photo you see above where the police were investigation outside of the home:
Police were searching for an attacker who fatally shot a man in a Burnside neighborhood home just before noon today, authorities said.

The man shot in the head in the home in the 600 block of East 87th Place was believed to be about 20 years, said Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Robert Perez.

The man, 21-year-old Rakim Douman, was dead on the scene, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.A family member called police to say a male relative had been shot about noon today in the home, Perez said.

Police were searching for an attacker, described as a young man wearing a red hat and a dark blue jacket, in the shooting, Perez said.

Fire Department paramedics responded to the scene, but no transports were made, said Chicago Fire Department spokesman Will Knight.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Should Emanuel move to Englewood? Satire?

In discussing this Chicago Reader piece at Curbed Chicago it was considered satire. It does look like satire in fact and certainly unlike anything ever proposed in this city before. The writer of this piece Steve Boigra is a genius for this one!
The aides said the mayor had considered several other approaches for combating segregation. The boldest plan called for Emanuel to challenge segregation personally by moving to a poor black neighborhood.

City housing officials had chosen a vacant, foreclosed, three-bedroom home in Englewood, near the Halsted stop on the Green Line, for the mayor's consideration. Englewood is 99 percent black, 45 percent of its residents are living in poverty, and 26 percent are in extreme poverty—they're living on incomes below half of the poverty line. The neighborhood's per capita income between 2006 and 2010 was about $12,000. Twenty-nine percent of its residents age 25 and older did not have a high school diploma, and 21 percent were unemployed.

The mayor lives in the western edge of Lake View, a predominantly white neighborhood whose per capita income, $58,000, is fifth in the city and almost five times Englewood's. Less than 3 percent of its residents age 25 and older lacked a high school diploma, and less than 5 percent were unemployed.

The annual homicide rate in Englewood, adjusted for age, was 47.5 per 100,000 residents. In Lake View, it was 2.2.

The mayor's aides said he initially liked the Englewood idea because of the publicity potential. They said he voiced his willingness to live there "as long as it takes—a week, ten days." But he balked at the suggestion that he also pull his three children out of the University of Chicago Lab School and send them to the local public school, Bass elementary, at 66th and Racine. Bass's enrollment is 99 percent black and 97 percent low income, and the school is on probation for its poor academic performance. The mayor said he was confident his children would get a "first-rate" education at Bass, now that the school day is longer. But he didn't want to disrupt their Lab School friendships.

The Englewood plan ultimately was dropped because it was too reminiscent of Mayor Jane Byrne's move into the Cabrini-Green housing project in 1981. Mayor Byrne had left her high-rise condo near the Magnificent Mile for Cabrini because she was disturbed by the project's rampant crime. She'd promised to stay in the project "as long as it takes to clean it up.'' Police saturated Cabrini while she was there, and the project turned peaceful. But she returned to her condo a month later, the violence resumed, and her move was derided as a publicity stunt.

Man Killed After Being Shot In Head In Chatham

Courtesy of CBS Chicago:
A man was killed when he was shot in the head in a home in the South Side Chatham neighborhood Thursday afternoon.

The shooting occurred just after noon inside a residence in the 600 block of East 87th Place, according to police News Affairs Officer Robert Perez. A man suffered a gunshot wound to the head and was dead on the scene, he said.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office said the victim was 21, but had no additional details as of about 2:30 p.m.

Area South detectives are investigating.

RELEASE: Alderman Sawyer calls for plan to invest in Chicago

This press release was published by Ald. Roderick Sawyer's office on Wednesday discussing the Mayor's budget address. You can read the full document after the quote:
Today, Alderman Roderick T. Sawyer of the Sixth (6th) Ward calls for broader investment in the city of Chicago. After today’s special meeting of the City Council, Alderman Sawyer said that he is looking forward to seeing the details of the Mayor’s budget and that he is optimistic about the stated investments that attempt to address the major issues of violence, infrastructure and pension obligations. However he believes that long term solutions will require the city to look at new revenue.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Help a local couple in the adoption process with a "like" and a comment

I adapted the following from a friend (& neighbor)’s Facebook status…the contest is today and tomorrow ONLY. Your like (“vote”) will them win a prize that will get them resources to fund the adoption (i..e 1-on-1 counseling and a books). Please vote ASAP – it’s the FIRST couples that get 75 likes which will win! ) So please take a moment and take a look

To all my friends, as many of you may or may not know Nicole and I (John Anthony)  are planning on using adoption to build our family. Sadly like most African American couples we do not have tens of thousands of dollars laying around to facilitate an adoption. However we would like to give you all an opportunity to join us on this journey in building our family. Today at 11:59 AM and going until 5:59PM Thursday, all you have to do is "like" the organization Resources4Adoption. Here you can see the tools we have the opportunity to win, and bring us closer to building our family. Please help us out and like them. The first two to 75 likes wins. I will post more information tomorrow morning. Please help us out. Thanks.

1.    Go to!/resources4adoption/app_190076381016644 and hit “like” (there is MORE – see below)

2.    IMPORTANT – in the COMMENTS section AT THE BOTTOM put down “We support John  Anthony” (that’s how they register votes)
We wish them the best in this venture!


Hiring 500 police officers in 2013 not enough, aldermen say - Chicago Sun-Times

Hiring 500 police officers in 2013 not enough, aldermen say - Chicago Sun-Times
The Chicago Police Department will hire 500 police officers in 2013 and hold two police exams — one for new officers, the other for sergeants, aldermen were told Tuesday.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to hire 125 officers-per-quarter was not enough to satisfy aldermen convinced Chicago needs at least 1,000 new officers to ease a manpower shortage they contend has hamstrung the city’s ability to stop a 25 percent surge in homicides and a nine percent increase in shootings.

They were not appeased by the argument made by the mayor’s budget team that Chicago already has more police officers-per-capita than any other major city and that it’s the first time since 2006 that the city has hired enough officers to keep pace with retirements for two straight years.

Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) noted that Emanuel balanced his first budget — and saved $82 million — by eliminating more than 1,400 police vacancies.

“We have an over-arching gang problem that keeps expanding every time we turn around. The murder rate is going up. Auto theft and bank robberies are going up. Police officers are being reactive. They don’t even have enough time to fill out the paperwork. They need additional help. If you’re only keeping pace with retirements, that’s not additional help,” he said.

Asked where he would find the $100 million needed to hire 1,000 more police officers, Fioretti said, “There’s a move toward privatization and cutting. We’ve got to find innovative ways to pay for the appropriate city services.”
What are YOUR thoughts?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Chicago State University and Iheart Radio Team Up

This past Friday, October 5, 2012. Chicago State University WCSU Radio became an official member of the iHeartRadio family. Also, the date marked the birthday of Chicago legend and station manager Herb Kent The Cool Gent birthday. The station offers a wide variety of music genres as well as community
radio. The station will be able to be heard around the world with the Iheart Radio application. A big hand to President Dr. Wayne Watson, Wanda Wright and Troi Tyler.

More pictures can be found at

83rd St. Food Mart: CLOSED

After months of complaints of illegal tobacco sales, sale of tobacco to minors, loitering and alleged marijuana sales, the store is permanently CLOSED. The owners have  moved out their inventory and fixtures.

Per the Alderman,the store owes the City of  Chicago thousands of dollars for code violations. The store was previously closed because they were fined $10,000 for code violations.

A big thanks to the residents of the 8000-8200 blocks of King Drive,Vernon and Eberhart, Alderman Roderick T. Sawyer and his staff,the Chicago Police Department and all the residents of Chatham for their vigilance to rid the community of the problem business.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Juke Joint Saturday Night: Are You Ready for a Club on 83rd Street

Last week, the topic of  liquor licenses was the focus and now it appears when it rains it pours. The City Life Cocktail Lounge located at 712 E. 83rd Street has decided to apply for a Public Place of  Amusement (PPA) license from the City of Chicago.

What is a PPA license. Per the City of Chicago Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) defines what establishments need a this type of license:
 The term “Public Place of Amusement” (PPA) includes but is not limited to:
  • Live Theaters & Concert Halls
  • Sports Stadiums
  • Movie Theaters
  • Bowling Alleys
  • Comedy Clubs
  • Businesses with 2+ pool tables
  • Nightclubs & Dance Clubs
  • Businesses with 3+ arcade games
  • Karaoke & DJs
  • Renting out a facility for a party or event open to the public
It is important to understand that a PPA and liquor license have similar guidelines. The major similarity is the distance from a education or religious institution. The requirements for a PPA are as follows:

PPA licenses are not permitted within 200 feet of a church, school, hospital, or building used exclusively for educational purposes. This distance is measured from the nearest point of the business to the nearest point of the restricted facility.
When a new application for a PPA license is filed, BACP will mail a public notice within 5 days to the registered voters who reside within 250 feet of the business. The community is granted a 30-day public comment period and may object to the issuance of the license. A public hearing may take place when needed.

 City Life Cocktail Lounge was a business that the community did not ask for and fought against and opened under the veil of technicalities in the liquor licensing ordinance as it stood at that time. The major setback this business has is that it does not have any off street parking. The adjacent laundromat has a parking lot but does not offer lounge customers access.

My problem with this application is that the owners have and continue to have no respect for the community. They did not consult the community with the initial license and not with this license. The limited parking on the residential blocks is a major problem, as the lounge customers are primarily not residents of Chatham or the 6th ward. This will result in having to convert surrounding block into residential parking permit blocks and costing homeowners additional money. Also, the previous problems of Malcolm's which was located a block east is a major concern as it spiraled out of control and resulted in patrons getting injured.

Alderman Sawyer has publically stated he is opposed to any additional liquor licenses being issued on 83rd Street and the business owner has not consulted him on this license application.

So where do you stand?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Aldermen push for details on feared school closings - Chicago Sun-Times

In this article Ald. Sawyer is quoted about school closings:
Thirty-two aldermen from across the city are demanding that Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handpicked school team come clean about what they fear is a secret plan to close more than 100 under-utilized Chicago Public Schools to pay for the newly-ratified teachers’ contract.

“CPS administration and, to a certain extent, the mayor’s office are playing hide the ball. That’s not acceptable,” Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) said.

“We are the people who get blamed. If I’m gonna take the heat, I want to know what’s going on. Not letting us know what’s going on shows a blatant disrespect for us as elected officials.”
What's the deal?
Emanuel’s repeated refusal to spell out how he plans to bankroll the four-year, $295 million teachers contract has fueled speculation that schools closings that have slowed to a trickle in recent years would turn into a flood.

School closings could trigger thousands of teacher layoffs and drive up class size. The issue was front-and-center during contract talks, prompting the Chicago Teachers Union to demand a recall policy that gives laid-off teachers a second chance.

On Wednesday, CTU President Karen Lewis predicted that one of the next big battles for the union would be over school closings.

“I’ve still got my boxing gloves on,” she said.

By Dec. 1, CPS officials must release the list of schools targeted for academic or enrollment closures or shakeups. To save money, CPS officials have said they need to eliminate under-used schools, and have estimated that, after initial costs, a shuttered building could generate $500,000 to $800,000 a year in savings.
More trouble brewing?

Buy your neighborhoods prints from The Chicago Neighborhoods

Logo prints are now available at The Chicago Neighborhoods. Buy a print and help represent the neighborhood where you live. Especially if you live in the various neighborhoods on this part of town. And also remember you can still buy t-shirts as well.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Early voting begins October 22

Check this listing of early voting sites via Ward Room throughout the city starting on October 22nd. Be advised that many of these sites are based on the new ward map approved in January of this year. So many of you may be voting in the 9th or 8th wards instead of the 6th ward for example. You might want to contact the Chicago Board of Elections if you have any questions.

Ward Room: Emanuel Blames Unions For Lack of African-American Jobs

This morning the Mayor was asked about retired businessman Ed Gardner's protest for black construction jobs that took place in the Beverly community this past Sunday. He was asked this on WVON radio Wednesday morning:
First of all, my staff has been in touch with Mr. Gardner. I think they’re meeting with him this morning, and they’ve met with him before. Mr. Gardner and I share the same goals, and the same objectives. We’ve talked about, where other cities are pulling back on public transportation, I just told you, we’ve got 400 permanent CTA bus driver jobs. We’ve got 200 to 300 jobs in rehabilitating our buses. We’re going to fix the Red Line, and over 30 percent of the work is going to be done by firms that are minority- and women-owned, and over 50 percent of that is African-American firms. On this particular project at 95-th. I talked to my staff, and as soon he said it was Hispanic and whites working on, I said, “Go check out what’s happened.” But remember, only a few years ago, the complaint was, “Nobody’s investing.” Now, we’re investing. The question is, “Now that we’re investing, who’s getting the work and who’s working on it?”…Now we’ve got to make sure that the building trades, which there’s a history at, which have not been opened to African-Americans and Hispanics and others, and minority children, make sure they have a training program, so the jobs that we’re investing in, and finally doing after years of not doing, are open to everybody in the city to apply for, and have the skill set so they, too can have that work.
What are YOUR thoughts?

Joe Zekas R.I.P.

 Joe Zekas ran the real estate news website YoChicago . If you have been following that site and their social media channels i.e. YouTube o...