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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:39pm
Tue Apr 22

Congresswoman Kelly Committed To Renewing Push For Federal Gun Control Legislation

Although gun-control legislation has stalled in Congress, "common-sense gun reform" remains one of U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly's top priorities, the Democratic congresswoman said at a Monday night event in East Hazel Crest to review her first year in the House.

Kelly, a former state representative, was elected last April to fill the 2nd congressional district seat left vacant by disgraced former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. after he resigned in 2012. The district covers Chicago’s far Southeast Side and a large swath of the southern suburbs.

While in Congress, Kelly introduced gun-control legislation meant to place stricter safety standards on guns and keep "violent, dangerous people" from being able to purchase firearms. But supporters of gun curbs simply cannot get gun-control legislation to the House floor for a vote, Kelly said. 

"There is gun legislation dealing with background checks, and there is about 180 to 190 bipartisan signatures, Democrats and Republicans," the congresswoman said. "But we cannot get it called to the floor, so what I tell people when people come and see me about the gun issue [is], 'I'm your choir.' So we need to call other people across the United States and call Speaker [John] Boehner [to] at least [bring] the bill to committee and to the floor and let it be voted up or down."  Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
9:45pm
Mon Apr 21

Dvorak Elementary Supporters Urge CPS To Hold Off On Proposed AUSL Turnaround

Supporters of Dvorak Technology Academy in North Lawndale held a rally Monday night in a last-ditch effort to save their school from having its entire staff fired and replaced next year by the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), a controversial school turnaround contractor. 

Parents, students and other community stakeholders held a protest outside of Dvorak to call on the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district to put in place a moratorium on school turnarounds. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Anthony Burke Boylan
1:37pm
Mon Apr 21

Foster Pushes Back Against Federal Immigration Detainee Quota

Imagine a criminal justice system that required police to make sure 34,000 people filled its cells every night, regardless of crime, severity or conviction.

While that sounds improbable, it is exactly how the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement goes about its business following a 2009 Congressional mandate. Under the requirements, the agency must fill 34,000 detainee beds in its system every night at an annual cost of $2 billion to taxpayers.

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL,11), along with U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, (D-FL,21), praised the Obama administration’s recent letter opposing the requirement last week, and put renewed energy behind their fight to end ICE detention quotas. Earlier this year, the two legislators introduced a measure to make undocumented immigrants more aware of their rights and set up an Office of Legal Access Programs. The legislation is called the Immigrant Detainee Legal Rights Act  H.R. 3914.

“The budget issues are not lost on either party,’’ Foster said, noting that a policy based on need rather than an arbitrary quota could cut the cost of detentions by $1.4 billion. “That’s why we have bipartisan support.’’ Read more »

Quick Hit
by Progress Illinois
10:28pm
Thu Apr 17

Happy Easter & Passover From Progress Illinois

Progress Illinois will be taking a short break for the Easter and Passover holidays. 

We will not be publishing Friday, April 18. We will begin publishing again regularly on Monday, April 21.

Enjoy the holidays!

Quick Hit
by Anthony Burke Boylan
9:11pm
Thu Apr 17

Madigan's Office Investigating Herbalife Pyramid Scheme Allegations

Miguel Calderon thought he was part of the American Dream when he heard about Herbalife. You put your money to work to make more money, he believed. He started with an $11,000 investment, using his savings that he earned while working at Abbott Laboratories.

But every time the Waukegan resident asked why all of his efforts for the nutrition and diet company failed to yield any profits, he was told he needed to invest more. By the time he realized there were no profits to be had, he had invested more than $20,000 in what a Latino advocacy group says is a pyramid scheme that preys on immigrants, in particular.

"Herbalife knows Latinos are easily victimized because they face barriers in language, and culture and legal status,’’ said Julie Contreras, president of the League of Latino American United Citizens of Lake County. “We came out and supported Attorney General Lisa Madigan in her election, now we want to see her support our community.’’ Read more »

Quick Hit
by Aricka Flowers
8:32pm
Thu Apr 17

CTU Releases Editorial Cartoon Blasting Rauner For 'Hypocrisy'

The Chicago Teachers Union released an editorial cartoon Thursday blasting Illinois GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner for the "hypocrisy of [his] campaign for governor as he hides behind his wife." Earlier this month, Rauner's campaign began running a TV ad touting the venture capitalist's Democratic wife. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
7:29pm
Thu Apr 17

Schneider, Enviros Discuss Lake Michigan Oil Spill; Great Lakes Infrastructure Initiatives

In the wake of the BP oil spill in Lake Michigan, U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL,10) met with local elected officials and environmental leaders in Highland Park to discuss ways to better protect and revitalize the Great Lakes region.

"Our needs are really very basic," Highland Park Mayor Nancy Roterin told the congressman on Thursday. "Keep our water clean and help us improve access to the beaches. [And] whatever you can to do to prevent these oil spills and the things like what happened at Whiting."

Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:59am
Thu Apr 17

CPS Students Want State Lawmakers To Fix 'Broken' School Discipline Policies

A group of Chicago students is ratcheting up the pressure on state lawmakers to get behind "common-sense" school disciplinary policies.

Student leaders with Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) argue zero tolerance discipline policies have resulted in zero gains in schools across the state. Dozens of students demonstrated at the Chicago Public Schools' (CPS) downtown headquarters Wednesday morning before marching to the Thompson Center to call on state officials, including Gov. Pat Quinn, to fix "broken" school discipline policies across Illinois. The group wants state lawmakers to set limitations on the use of disciplinary actions that eat up classroom learning time and have a disproportionate impact on students of color.

"Students want to stay in school. Students want to learn, and they want discipline (policies) that make sense," said Jose Sanchez, VOYCE's Safe Schools Consortium coordinator. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:22pm
Wed Apr 16

Chicago Activists To Demand A Stop To Deportations On May Day

Activists participating in the upcoming May Day workers' march and celebration in the city of Chicago will deliver a clear message to President Barack Obama — two million deportations is too many.

May 1, or May Day, is an international day of honoring workers. Since 2006, an annual May Day rally has been held in Chicago, highlighting immigrant rights as an important aspect of the workers' rights debate.

Thousands of people attended last year'sMay Day event in the city to rally for comprehensive immigration reform legislation, which is now stalled in Congress.

This year, the main message is about deportations. The goal is to "try and keep the pressure on the [Obama] administration to do everything that's in their power to defer action to a broader group of immigrants working here in the United States, and do that quickly," said Susan Hurley with Chicago Jobs with Justice.

"We have approached or passed a milestone of 2 million people being deported [under the Obama administration], and that's just too many families being separated," she added. "It's got to stop, and if we can't get legislation that will fix our broken system, then we need to back off the deportations until we can get that legislation."  Read more »