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Quick Hit
by La Risa Lynch
Fri Aug 22

U.S. National Parks Director Visits Chicago To Review Efforts To Include Pullman Area In System

Efforts to designate parts of the Pullman community on Chicago’s far South Side as a national park site could see some presidential muscle behind the cause.

The head of the U.S. National Park Service toured what remains of the Pullman Palace Car Company Thursday as part of a visit to gage public support for including portions of the community, created by its namesake founder George M. Pullman, in the national park system. Jonathan B. Jarvis, the national parks system director, said a little known presidential power given under the 1906 Antiquities Act could make the proposal a reality sooner than later.

That route seems doable since legislation proposed by U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and U.S. Rep Robin Kelly (D-IL,2) have been stuck in committee in both chambers since the bills were introduced. The Antiquities Act allows a president to use an executive order to designate a site as a national monument.

Jarvis said there are two ways to establish a new park within the national park system — one is through Congress, which he said “we have not seen a lot of movement on” even though both bills have bipartisan support.

“But there is an alternative path and that is presidential power,” he added. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Aug 21

CivicLab To Emanuel: 'Come Clean' About $1.7 Billion In Unspent TIF Funds

Volunteers with Chicago's CivicLab want a full accounting of the more than $1.7 billion that was sitting in the city’s collective tax increment financing (TIF) district bank accounts at the end of 2013.

Tom Tresser, co-founder of the CivicLab and leader of its volunteer-based TIF Illumination Project, said the group plans to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the city within the week to "demand the mayor to come clean" about how those unspent funds will be used. Tresser said the group is prepared to take legal action if the city denies the FOIA request.

"We asked for (similar information) last year, and they told us to go take a leap," Tresser said at a TIF discussion Wednesday evening at the CivicLab, 114 N. Aberdeen St. "This time, we're going to sue if we don't get it." Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Aug 20

Couple Claims Chicago Police 'Bullied' Them For Filming Officers In Garfield Park

A Chicago-area couple says they were "bullied" by police for taking a cellphone video of officers in Garfield Park earlier this month.

Keyia Mandeldove, a massage therapist from Berwyn, was at Garfield Park on August 8 with her massage chair providing free services to community members. Mandeldove's fiancé, Akula Segal of Chicago's South Side, was also with her at the park, located on the city's West Side.

That day, Mandeldove said several police officers arrived at about 7:30 p.m. to do a "sweep" of Garfield Park and to ask those congregating in the area to leave for the night.

Mandeldove, who says she has been a frequent visitor of Garfield Park for the past 15 years, proceeded to have a conversation with the supervising officer on the scene about why people were being asked to disperse. She and the law enforcement official also discussed when the next local community policing meeting would be held, Mandeldove said.

"They weren't coming in the park to address me about being there with the massage chair, they were just there to sweep the park," Mandeldove said. "And I said, 'Hey, where can I find a CAPS [Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy] meeting?' I said, 'Since we've been coming to this park, (the police) close it down anytime between 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. everyday.' And I just want to know where can I go meet with someone to find out why they're doing this, and is there any way to get the park to close at the right time?" Read more »

Quick Hit
by Aricka Flowers
Wed Aug 20

Quinn Camp: Rauner Is 'Hiding' From Voters, Released 'Phony' Debate Schedule

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner have agreed to take part in three traditional debates before the November general election. But the governor's campaign says the Republican is "hiding" from voters and "misleading" them about his debate schedule.

"The public knows virtually nothing about Republican billionaire Bruce Rauner and he wants to keep it that way. In limiting the number of debates to a paltry three, he is hiding from a transparent airing of his views and plans for Illinois," said Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Aug 20

Karen Lewis Discusses Potential Mayoral Run During Stop On Chicago 'Listening Tour' (VIDEO)

Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis said she is "seriously considering" running for Chicago mayor and will decided whether to challenge Mayor Rahm Emanuel when she has "certain things in place."

"And those things are, primarily, the three things you need to run a campaign," Lewis said at a Tuesday evening discussion about city issues, held on Chicago's far Southwest Side in the 19th Ward. "You've got to have money. You've got to have people, and you've got to have time."

"I want to run things on my timeline," she added at the talk, moderated by journalist Walter Jacobson and hosted by the CTU at the Beverly Woods Banquet Hall, 11532 S. Western Ave. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Aricka Flowers
Mon Aug 18

Progress Illinois EIC Takes ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (VIDEO)

Throughout the last week, we've seen politicians, celebrities and countless Americans take part in the ALS ice bucket challenge to raise awareness about the devastating progressive neurodegenerative disease and raise funds for the ALS Association.

Thanks to my buddy JD Stamper, it is now my turn to take part in the ice bucket challenge.  Read more »

Quick Hit
by Aaron Cynic
Mon Aug 18

Golan's Workers Continue To Strike, See Support From Religious Leaders

Religious leaders joined more than 100 workers and their supporters on a picket line Saturday in front of the Golan's Moving and Storage Company in Skokie to hold a vigil and show solidarity with the company's employees. The workers have been striking for two weeks.

Last month, some 60 workers walked off the job after contract negotiations with the moving company stalled. In addition to charging the company with unfair labor practices, the striking workers, who in December won representation from the Teamster’s Local 705, are also fighting for health insurance, wage increases and more.

“There can be no peace without justice,” Cantor Michael Davis of the Lakeside Congregation for Reform Judaism in Highland Park told the crowd. “We remember that we all came from somewhere else. That we were all slaves once in Egypt, and we stand with everybody who is struggling. We call for justice for the workers of Golan's.” Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Aug 18

Report: Social Security Lifts Hundreds Of Thousands Of Illinoisans Out Of Poverty

The "modest benefits" provided under the Social Security program were enough to boost 807,000 Illinoisans out of poverty in 2012, including 585,000 seniors, according to a new report released by Social Security Works and the Alliance for Retired Americans.

At the national level, 22 million people, including one million children, were lifted out of poverty in 2012 thanks to the social insurance program, which celebrated its 79th birthday last Thursday.

Without Social Security, which provides insurance benefits to retirees, children, surviving spouses and the disabled, the poverty rate among Illinois residents 65 and older would jump from 8.3 percent to 43.1 percent, the "Social Security Works for Illinois" report shows.

In Illinois, 67 precent of the state's 2013 Social Security beneficiaries were retirees, followed by disabled workers at 18 percent. Children represented 7 percent of Illinois' Social Security recipients last year.

"You can go right down the line in how (Social Security) impacts all Illinois residents," said Barbara Franklin, president of the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans. "And what really makes you mad is (some lawmakers have) been going after this program ... Hardly a year goes by that you don't hear cries to privatize Social Security." Read more »

Quick Hit
by Aaron Cynic
Fri Aug 15

Chicagoans Take Part In National 'Moment Of Silence' Against Police Brutality (VIDEO)

Hundreds gathered in Daley Plaza in Chicago Thursday night for what they called a “moment of silence” to show solidarity with those who have been victims of police brutality.

The group began to gather as early as 5:30 p.m., with many carrying cardboard signs bearing the names of people who have been killed by police. Some 55 similar demonstrations were held nationwide, touched off by the shooting death of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the subsequent protests of the local police.

“I’m so mad right now I can barely speak,” said Rachel Jackson, a Chicago Public Schools teacher. “This hurts so bad, it keeps continuing. I fear for my children and my students.”

Jackson said she couldn’t believe she was at another event marking the shooting of an unarmed young African American. “Last year I hosted an event for Trayvon Martin’s verdict and we’re still here a year later,” said Jackson.   Read more »