Archives for posts with tag: chicago tribune article

You know, I prefer a paper held in my hands.  And while in Chicago it is the Chicago Tribune.

Today, two things.

Actually one is from the Friday Trib.  John Kass’ column on “a beautiful and wonderful tradition” of young lovers in cities such as Paris. Kass

The other is that when I googled my way to a link of that column I was halted by the Chicago Tribune digitalPLUS.  For an additional 49 cents a week I was offered access to articles such as the John Kass column.


Clever, I checked the John Kass Facebook page.  Sure enough, Kass shares a link to locks of love.  I am not out $ .49 this week and you can see what the City of Chicago is doing to make our city less romantic.

[I just tried locks of love link and the digitalPLUS blocks access.  moutza!  So just go to the Kass Facebook page and scroll down a couple posts to “city has cutting response to love locks on bridges”]


school closings controversy  5  May 2013There are very few of us who don’t believe that the job of Mayor of the City of Chicago is anything less than an enormous responsibility.  God bless the person who aspires to the job.  These days, Rahm Emmanuel.

Mayor Emmanuel these days has one especially big challenge.  Fix schools in Chicago.  He and his administration believes part of the schools fix is to close more than fifty.  Reasons are given for these closings.  But closings are mostly on the south and west sides of the city, in predominantly African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods.  No surprise that there is significant suspicion about this.

Friday’s Chicago Tribune reported that Chicago Public School documents raise questions about these closings.

school closings controversy  4  May 2013

school closings controversy  3  May 2013

Once again, less-than-high-tech sharing of this story from today’s Chicago Tribune –

May 8th Chicago Tribune

May 8th Chicago Tribune

In early March I posted what you can’t read won’t hurt you on this issue of justice in public education.   Now Chicago Public Schools is running into unexpected criticism from its hearing officers (retired state and federal judges) who after reviewing proposed closings of 53 schools oppose 13 of those closings.

controversy over 13 of 53 schools Chicago Public Schools proposes to close

controversy over 13 of 53 schools Chicago Public Schools proposes to close

What’s going on?

don't shoot

I laughed, and I’m sure I shouldn’t have, when I read what Jaylen Price’s great-uncle had to say about whoever’s bullet hit his 10 year old nephew a few days ago here in Chicago.

In some parts of our city you expect to hear gunshots.  See bullet holes in walls and windows.  Talk with someone about who got shot.  Chicago’s story is full of bullet holes.

If you stick around long enough you too will have your own shooting story.

Jaylen was hit by a ricochet waiting for a pizza delivery when men down the street started shooting at each other.  His great-uncle, Alvin Ponder,  gives it straight and simple about guns as reported in the Chicago Tribune

“They (politicians) won’t stop everything, I understand that,” he said. “They don’t have to ban the guns, but they have to do things for gun safety, background checks, big magazines. These war weapons don’t belong on the street. Anything that is a semi-automatic is an assault weapon.

“If you can’t hit a target with 10 rounds, you should be doing another hobby. You need another life.”

It’s that last statement.

do you all understand?  10 rounds?  you still can’t hit it?  you should be fishing.  scrapbooking.

Get another life.  Not mine.

CT ColumnistsJK033.jpgToday’s Chicago Tribune.  John Kass’ football is dead in America column in which Kass says –

Fans have been led to pretend that the violence is merely ancillary. But to say that violence isn’t at the heart of football is a lie. Remove the violence, and you remove what is great about the game, what is awe-inspiring and guilt-inspiring at the same time.

ShteirRight next to Kass is Rex Huppke’s she stands by her slam about Rachel Shteir’s NY Times review of three new books about the city she works in.  The city home now to 2.7 million.  3.6 million in 1950.  The city of “incessant boosterism”.  Where “bloviating roars on, as if hot air could prevent Chicago from turning into Detroit.”

I see how this upset some people.

Chicago turning into Detroit.

Long before Huppke’s article, before Shteir’s review, before the books by Dyja, Coen, Chase, Steinberg … I have wondered.

I have wondered when I began to see parts of Chicago which have necrotized.  I compare with the Detroit I have seen.  Chicago neighborhoods which will soon see their schools close.

Chicago is far from being in the same condition as Detroit.  But parts?  I can see it.  Perhaps Chicago as a whole will never.  But perhaps Detroiters of the 1950s would never have believed what their city is now.

moltmannI’ve mentioned in recent posts Jurgen Moltmann’s Ethics of Hope.  Moltmann is a theologian with a special focus in eschatology, dealing with last things.   But his way is a way foreign to TV and radio preachers who talk about the last days and how things will grow worse and we all better find a survival place to huddle and wimper while the world goes to hell.  Bloviating.

Instead, Moltmann sees the coming of God into the present.  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

An ethics of hope sees the future in the light of Christ’s resurrection.  The reasonableness it presupposes and employs is the knowledge of change.  This points the way to transforming action so as to anticipate as far as possible, and as far as strength goes, the new creation of all things, which God has promised and which Christ has put into force.  The liberation of the oppressed, the raising up of the humiliated, the healing of the sick and justice for the poor are their familiar and practicable keywords.

This offers robust possibilities for us in the present time, in the city of Chicago, or Detroit.  Or anyplace where the people of God choose to act to transform our world and cities, in anticipation of a greater city (Revelation 21:10; 22:1-5).

Schools are being closed in American cities.

Philadelphia.  Newark.  Washington.  Chicago.  Detroit.

They say schools are being closed for good reasons.  Money.  Underperformance.  Money.  Shifting populations.  Money.

I’m $ure a good ca$e can be made for the$e rea$on$.

But what else is happening as urban schools close?Philadelphia closes schools

Schools in poorer and minority neighborhoods are disproportionately being closed.  Since 2001 Chicago has closed 100, all but two in poor neighborhoods.  88% of affected students have been African-American.

There is no arguing with the sharp pencils.  Population shifts.  Deficits.

A couple weeks ago we returned home to a pile of newspapers.  I hadn’t stopped delivery.  But I had some time today to catch up on reading.  Internet is good but I like to hold sheets of newsprint, to leisurely page back and forth through them.  Tactile satisfaction.  Newspaper also forms a nap inducing warm quiet micro-environment when placed over and around one’s head.  Try it.

At the top of one Chicago Tribune front page “CPS closes in on school cuts … anxiety grows as district offers preliminary list of 129 campuses that could be shuttered“.  It hardly seems news anymore to hear of large urban school districts closing schools, increasing the ratio of students to teacher.  We just accept it as a way of life.

But what caught my attention was the map showing areas of the city where schools may be closed.  I can’t get the Chi Trib graphics article to appear.  So here’s my elegant low/high tech solution:  an iPhone photo of the paper –

schools that could be closed  Chi Trib Feb 18  2013

Compare this map with Open City’s Chicago Public Schools Tiers  where areas of Chicago are identified as one of four Tiers.  Tier 1 are places where people tend to “make less money and have less education”.  Tier 4 would be where people “make more money and have more education”.

Guess which Tier will overwhelmingly lose more schools?  Tier 1 or Tier 4?  That wasn’t hard.

Okay.  The areas about to lose schools are areas with less and less children, according to the authorities.  But these same areas are also home to children living in the least educated and lowest income households in Chicago.

If most of the CPS school closings take place in Tier 1 neighborhoods, it will have an even greater impact than a closing in a Tier 4.  If a neighborhood school closes, parents do not believe it will mean a better education for their children.  My child may be assigned to a school with a better building, a greater concentration of teacher and material resources.  But she will need to travel farther.  Be in an unfamiliar place.  Increase the likelihood of running into hostility.  Gangs?  Regardless of promises, who is ahead when my neighborhood no longer has a school?

Distribution of wealth, of education resources, will be to the most populous neighborhoods of Chicago.  That seems sensible.  But it will also mean a more challenging, harder experience for the poorest children, for the children who already face the greatest hurdles in becoming educated.

I see this as an issue of justice.  In its desire to solve one problem by making the education system more efficient and effective, the solution will contribute to another problem.  Chicago will continue to offer swaths of the city where hopelessness is cultivated in an increasingly entrenched population of undereducated Chicagoans.

If Chicago continues to close schools in its poorest neighborhoods, is this justice?

Maybe Chicago will have more and more of its citizzzens who find napping to be the best use of a newspaper.

We arrived back home New Years Day from the Urbana conference in St Louis.  Where our son John lives and raises seven chickens in the backyard on Arsenal Street.

They are hens and after weeks of wondering if they would ever produce now provide three dozen eggs a week.  IMG_1068They also provide wonderment to John’s neighbors.  He showed me photos of young people and older residents of his Benton Park neighborhood who participate in Salvation Army activities on the other side of Arsenal.  Holding a hen.  Collecting eggs.  Sometimes staring with wary delight at these city chickens.  These city dwellers make a field trip across the street to an urban farm.

It seems incongruous.  Farm life in the city.  But John says there are others in the neighborhood raising chickens and growing vegetables.Betsy gardening with the children  Summer 2012

Today the Chicago Tribune features a king of compost.

Lisa Boone writes of Steven Wynbrandt who lives in Los Angeles and sells at $1 a pound rich dark organic material from the compost heap he’s created in his backyard.

“I’m an alchemist,” Wynbrand says.  His mother June agrees. “It’s more than beautiful.”  Looking out the kitchen window she says “it’s magical.”

Wynbrandt Farm

Check out Steven’s page for the Wynbrandt Farm and Wynbrandt Biodynamic Compost.

There is something magical, wonderful about finding fresh eggs and vegetables in LA, inner city St Louis or a number of cities across the USA.  Even strutting peacocks in yards near Woodward Avenue in Detroit.  It made me slow down to make sure that it was what I thought I saw.

As children it mystified us.  The green sprout growing out of a seed wrapped in a moist paper towel.

And now as urban dwellers we are surprised, and delighted by this echo of our agrarian ancestors now returning to us.


Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Superintendent Garry McCarthy tell us that they are cleaning up the Chicago Police Department.

That’s their promise as a trial judge decided yesterday to let stand a federal jury judgment “that a ‘code of silence’ in the Chicago Police Department protects rogue officers”.

“This was a highly publicized case involving a considerable amount of public resources, including taxes paid by the people of the city of Chicago to defend this lawsuit.  This case touched on the public interest of whether the city has a widespread custom or practice of failing to adequately investigate and/or discipline its officers and whether there is a police code of silence.”  So says U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve.

For the past six years Judge St. Eve has presided over the case of a drunken police officer beating a female bartender.  This has become quite a story as does most any that ends up on .

Here’s my post from yesterday about another situation concerning the City of Chicago’s integrity.

The plaintiff’s lawyers have now given notice that their client’s $850.000 settlement along with the legal bill “likely to be in the millions of dollars” needs to be paid by month’s end.

Whether in dollars or credibility it’s justice at a high cost in Chicago.

The Chicago Tribune’s Jon Yates wrote in this morning’s paper of the end of ‘Ticketgate’.

Since February 4, 2009 Yates has written (15 times) about Mark Geinosky’s search for an answer to why he received 24 certifiably unwarranted parking tickets from the City of Chicago.  problem geinoskyHere’s Yates’ March 14, 2011 article about Geinosky’s campaign.  And here’s today’s Problem Solver column by Yates but you may not be able to read it unless you have the Trib’s Digital Plus.  Sorry.

So here it is, almost 2013.  Ticketgate now ends in a settlement.  The City of Chicago will pay Geinosky for $85,000 to end his federal lawsuit against the city.

Geinosky is happy it’s over but “disappointed he never discovered why he had been targeted.”  You know you would, too.  How would you feel if you received two dozen tickets all of which you were able to prove that you weren’t at those locations?  Every single ticket was dismissed in court.  But it was a five year hassle.  Geinosky called it harassment.  It seems so did the federal court.

So, what’s going on here?  Two things.

First, for some reason it appears Geinosky was targeted by someone or several someones.  According to Yates the tickets stopped being issued after the story was reported in the Tribune.  The Chicago Police Department also reopened the case which they had closed.  It identified four police officers allegedly involved.  Two claimed that someone used old ticket books, forged their names, or maybe used presigned tickets.  This past June the Police Board determined that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove allegations against the officers.  The city pays thousands of dollars.  But Geinosky gets no answers.

Second, how does this happen?  What action can a person take when they feel injustice is being done?  Is it reasonable to find out what is happening when it becomes clear that someone is wrongfully using power against you?  How much should our public officials and civic structures do to help us trust them to be credible, honest, fair?

It serves us well in cities like Chicago to have confidence that our police, courts and other public institutions serve the common good.

When our confidence is eroded or shaken, when we begin distrusting and discounting them, officials and institutions can only exercise a certain type of power.  Monitoring, warning, enforcing, threatening, intimidating.

And for all of us that would be a bad place to be.

Last November I posted Tasty or Tacky?  Public or Proprietary? and now the subject returns in today’s Chicago Tribune article by John Byrne and John Chase of digital billboards proposed for city property.

$150 million for the city in exchange for 20 years of 34 digital billboards as large as 20 feet by 60 feet on city land along the Dan Ryan, Kennedy and other freeways.  Also, advertisers eager to pay the city for use of 375 garbage cans in the Loop.

Density marks urban life.  Lots of traffic.  But often we like it because it gives us choices.  Food, culture, people.  City dwellers, and there are increasing numbers of us in North America and throughout the world, are attracted to cities for precisely these reasons.  We like the buzz of human life not found in wide open spaces.

Yet, how much?  I stand in the grocery store, paralyzed at dry cereal choices.

Cities of the future such as in Blade Runner and Mystery Men suggest media and image rich environments.  How rich do we want Chicago?

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