If you're not reading John Conroy and Steve Rhodes' daily dispatches on the trial of fomer Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge, there is still time to start (though final arguments are scheduled for later this week). Here is Rhodes today highlighting the imbalance in local media coverage:
Who cares if a decorated Chicago police commander tortured dozens -
if not more - of African American men, some of whom wrongly ended up on
Death Row, when our former governor is caught on tape musing about
trading a U.S. Senate seat for the ambassadorship to India? Don't be
such a downer! Blago is fun! Burge is a drag. [...]
This is what happens when news is defined in large measure by its
entertainment quotient. If I had a nickel for every time I heard a
reporter describe how much fun it was to work in a town with such
brazen political schemes. Fun? You have to live here too. It's
Representatives from the big discount retailer and organized labor are meeting today to see if they can agree on a "living wage" that would apply to big-box outlets like Wal-Mart.
Meanwhile, the Reader's Hunter Clauss got ahold of a "community benefits agreement" drafted by Walmart and notes that it does not include any mention of a living wage standard. He then snagged this response from Ald. Anthony Beale, who is pushing for a new Walmart development in his 9th Ward: “This is a community benefits agreement. [...] This is not a union community benefits agreement.”
Just to be clear, local labor unions are not the only ones pushing for a living wage (though the local mainstream media coverage often leaves that impression). As the membership of the Good Jobs Chicago coalition shows, numerous community groups and religious organizations are also pushing the mega-retailer to provide better base wages.
We'll have an update on any developments later this afternoon. (Also, this Sun-Times story published this morning appears to have been unfounded.)
We weren't the only media outlet to cover the Raise Your Hand (RYH) coalition's rally yesterday. Here's some additional video shot by the Chicago News Cooperative:
In other education budget news, both the Sun-Times and Tribune
editorial boards jumped all over the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) this week
for suggesting that they will fight to keep in place a scheduled four
percent pay increase (which will cost $135 million). But CTU president-elect Karen Lewis' position seems pretty
reasonable. She says the city should provide a
detailed budget before teachers are forced to choose between cuts or raises.
That way, all the stakeholders can assess whether there is waste in
other parts of the district, particularity in the central office
bureaucracy. Ben Joravksy wrote about that issue this week, as well.
Mayor Daley has admitted that he no longer reads local news coverage. Maybe if
he broke his boycott and actually looked at the reporting that's been
done this year, he'd see that Walmart proponents are well-represented in almost every news report while community-level critics are rarely quoted.
Right on the heels of our article noting the latest tax increment financing (TIF) reform activism in Chicago, the Reader's Ben Joravksy published a related piece
yesterday on the newly-formed Raise Your Hand (RYH) coalition. The city's
most dogged TIF reporter talked to a few parents involved in the
organization, who offered more specifics about how they want to see the system changed to exempt the Chicago Public Schools from having their tax revenue siphoned off into TIF accounts.
I talked to Goldman this morning to get a clarification on RYH's
proposal. While the organization originally told Joravsky that the state's
TIF statute would need to be revised to exempt CPS, he now thinks it might be possible for city officials to achieve the same outcome by amending the ordinance that establishes each TIF district.
Regardless of the level of government, Goldman believes that there won't be any action without Mayor Daley's blessing, which is why the
organization is still requesting a meeting with his
administration on the issue. Joined by State Rep. and Democratic Cook County commissioner candidate John Fritchey, the coalition pressed the mayor again outside the Thompson Center this morning. Watch:
Over at the Chicago Reporter, Alden Loury calculated the murder rate in the city's 11th and 15th police districts (which cover a variety of West Side neighborhoods) with the top ten deadliest cities in America. What she found is pretty disturbing:
The collective murder rate for the 11th and 15th police
districts--about 54 murders per 100,000 residents--was higher than the
51 per 100,000 recorded for New Orleans, the nation's leader.