The Bleader | Blog + Reader + News

News

Monday, December 17, 2018

Healthy Hood wants to make sure people on the south and west sides start living better and longer

Posted By today at 06.00 AM

COURTESY HEALTHY HOOD
  • courtesy Healthy Hood

In the city of Chicago, there is a 20-year life expectancy gap between communities of color and predominantly white communities. If you live in a neighborhood like Pilsen, statistically speaking, you’re likely to not live as long as someone who lives in Oak Park. Pilsen native Tanya Lozano has set out to combat this gap through her nonprofit, Youth Service Corps, and her fitness and dance studio, Healthy Hood.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, December 10, 2018

Reader announces Sujay Kumar as print managing editor

Posted on 12.10.18 at 04:35 PM

sujay-kumar.jpg

Previously of the Daily Beast and Fusion, culture and investigative reporter Sujay Kumar has been hired as managing editor for the print edition of the Reader.

"The Reader has a rich history of doing two things I love: investigative work and culture reporting," Kumar said. "I can’t wait to join the staff in Bronzeville and build on that legacy. Also, I like how the paper smells."

Recently, he’s been reporting an investigative magazine feature in Carbondale and fact checking books for Columbia Global Reports. He has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. He is a Chicagoan by way of Saskatchewan.

"Sujay brings to the Reader a thoughtful demeanor and a dedication to Chicago-based investigative work that will prove central to expanding the ways in which we can engage directly with the people of this city," said editor in chief Anne Elizabeth Moore. "I'm thrilled to bring him on board as we reinvigorate the alternative newsweekly model at this vital moment."

An agreement has been signed between Sun-Times Media, owner of the Chicago Sun-Times as well as the Chicago Reader, and a private investment group that has formed an L3C to purchase the Reader to ensure it remains a vital voice in the local media landscape. The paper will continue to publish every week.

A new leadership team took over publishing duties of the Reader on October 1, 2018. Dorothy R. Leavell, publisher of the Chicago Crusader and its sister publication, the Gary Crusader, is chairman of the Reader board of directors. Board treasurer is Eileen Rhodes, president of East Lake Management Group, and secretary is Jessica Stites, executive editor of In These Times.

The major investors behind the Reader purchase are longtime business leader Elzie Higginbottom and criminal defense attorney Leonard Goodman. A public fund-raising campaign and membership drive launched December 6, and supports the paper’s re-establishment as an independently owned newspaper.

The Reader, founded in 1971, is among the most robust of the alternative newsweeklies to emerge from the 1960s and 1970s counterculture movements. The new owners will continue the strong tradition of cultural coverage and investigative reporting, focusing on both print and digital distribution channels.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Friday, November 30, 2018

Chance the Rapper offers a video preview of the new Chicagoist

Posted By on 11.30.18 at 05:06 PM

Chance says his vision for Chicagoist is to "allow more people to have voices, to give a bigger platform for Chicago voices to speak." - KAREN HAWKINS
  • Karen Hawkins
  • Chance says his vision for Chicagoist is to "allow more people to have voices, to give a bigger platform for Chicago voices to speak."

When Chance the Rapper announced via a single in July that he was buying Chicagoist—the hyperlocal news site closed by billionaire owner Joe Ricketts the previous November—there was a ton of speculation about what he'd do with it. At an invitation-only event Friday morning, a collection of journalists, young aldermanic candidates, professors, and supporters got a first glimpse of the goods.

The whole event was shrouded in mystery, and the few folks I spoke to as we waited at Northeastern Illinois University's Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies in Bronzeville were as excitedly baffled as I was about what exactly we were in for.

That turned out to be a video, but before it rolled, retired Northeastern Professor Conrad Worrill (a longtime friend of Chance's dad) set the scene by telling us that some of history's greatest black intellectuals and artists had once graced the same stage, among them W.E.B. Du Bois and Langston Hughes.

Then the video began: puppet news anchors—that's right, I said puppet—introduce a Chicagoist investigation by "Champ" the reporter, played by young Chance in a beige throwback suit and a taped-on mustache he keeps pressing back into place as he talks.
Chance as Chicagoist TV reporter Champ Bennett - KAREN HAWKINS
  • Karen Hawkins
  • Chance as Chicagoist TV reporter Champ Bennett

Champ/Chance then delivers a 101-level lesson in Chicago politics, set to music with what Sun-Times journalist Kathy Chaney astutely described as a Schoolhouse Rock vibe.

People-on-the-street interviews demonstrate just how little people on the street know about how their city runs. (What does an alderman do? What's the City Council? How many wards does Chicago have? No one knows.) More formal interviews with local reporters and aldermanic hopefuls, many of them people of color (and many of them in the audience watching the video with us), explore the challenges faced by candidates who lack clout, connections, and resources. A bewigged Hannibal Buress hams it up in the role of fictitious 51st ward alderman Al Durhman, who proudly proclaims that he just votes "yes" to everything and has been re-elected for years after inheriting the seat from his daddy.


During a Q&A after the video, Chance said it would be posted on his YouTube channel but not on Chicagoist, which he noted is still under construction.

Chance said he was inspired to do the piece by the realization that he'd only learned that the City Council is made up of aldermen when he visited one of its meetings last year—and that this kind of knowledge gap keeps people from being engaged in government and electoral politics. The new Chicagoist has a chance to fix that, and Chance said he hopes to get the video included in the curriculum at CPS.

He offered few details about what else Chicagoist is up to, but he promised that it would be "grand"—and that it would offer its audience more context for the news of the day.

"The overall idea is to allow more people to have voices, to give a bigger platform for Chicago voices to speak," Chance said—not just in the realm of hyperlocal journalism but also in the world at large (including, of course, in music). "I'm not trying to say too much, but it's cool, though—it's a cool thing."

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

A resolution to a five-year-old Title IX complaint

Posted By on 11.27.18 at 06:00 AM

Olivia Ortiz in 2018 - COURTESY OLIVIA ORTIZ
  • courtesy Olivia Ortiz
  • Olivia Ortiz in 2018

I first met Olivia Ortiz in the spring of 2015, which was three years after she'd accused her then-boyfriend of sexually assaulting her when she was a second-year student at the University of Chicago, and two years after she'd filed a Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights about the way the university had handed the accusation. The linchpin of Ortiz's complaint had been that Dean Susan Art, the administrator who had handled her initial accusation, had offered to resolve the issue through an informal mediation session between Ortiz and her ex-boyfriend, after which she told Ortiz that the university didn't consider her complaint sexual assault. Only afterward did Ortiz learn that informal mediation wasn't an appropriate disciplinary measure for an accusation of sexual assault, both according to the university's own policy and two "Dear Colleague" letters issued by the Department of Education, one in 2001 and one in 2011.

Art has since retired and has not responded to the Reader's request for comment by e-mail or through the university. University officials have been willing to discuss the school's policies but said in a statement: "In view of the limitations imposed by federal law that protects student privacy, the University cannot comment on administrative processes concerning individual students."

When Ortiz filed her initial complaint in April 2013, she was told that OCR was working its way through a substantial backlog of cases going back to 2011, but that the goal was to have a decision within 180 days. Around the same time, several other U of C students filed Title IX complaints, and OCR decided to look at them all together, in a systemic investigation of how U of C handled accusations of sexual assault.

By the time I talked to Ortiz two years later, she was still waiting for an answer from OCR. She'd also withdrawn from school three times, twice because of mental health issues related to her assault and from previously-undiagnosed manic-depression and once because of online harassment. She'd also become an activist for sexual assault survivors' rights and was part of a group of students who had applied pressure to the university to change the way it received and processed sexual assault complaints.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, November 26, 2018

Archive dive: how grassroots groups around Chicago put police abolitionist ideas into practice

Posted By on 11.26.18 at 10:56 AM

Jessica Disu didn’t always consider herself a police abolitionist, but an appearance on Fox News in 2016 made her the face of the movement. In a Reader article that same year she said, “our police is not working—we need to replace it with something new.” - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • Jessica Disu didn’t always consider herself a police abolitionist, but an appearance on Fox News in 2016 made her the face of the movement. In a Reader article that same year she said, “our police is not working—we need to replace it with something new.”

The Reader's archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every week in Archive Dive, we'll dig through and bring up some finds.

Is a Chicago without police a possibility? In the 2016 article "Abolish the police? Organizers say it's less crazy than it sounds." Reader staff writer Maya Dukmasova explored the history of abolitionism, spoke with local activists fighting for change, and reported the Chicago Police Department's response (or lack thereof) to the movement.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, November 19, 2018

Archive dive: A report from Morton, Illinois, the self-declared pumpkin capital of the world

Posted By on 11.19.18 at 11:00 AM

JAMES H.
  • JAMES H.

The Reader's archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every week in Archive Dive, we'll dig through and bring up some finds.

Sure, your aunt may say she made that Thanksgiving pumpkin pie all on her own, but how much does she know about the people who picked and packed the pumpkins before the can of pie filling entered her kitchen? In the 2006 Reader article "Hecho en Illinois," Linda Lutton and Catrin Einhorn explored Morton, Illinois, which at the time produced as much as 90 percent of all canned pumpkin consumed in the United States. And the majority of those who made it possible traveled from a small town in Michoacan, Mexico.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, November 15, 2018

More than 100 people showed up at a public meeting in order to save the Hideout

Posted By on 11.15.18 at 06:00 AM

Alderman Brian Hopkins introduced a zoning ordinance to protect the Hideout from the Lincoln Yards development. - MARISSA DE LA CERDA
  • Marissa De La Cerda
  • Alderman Brian Hopkins introduced a zoning ordinance to protect the Hideout from the Lincoln Yards development.

More than 100 supporters of the Hideout piled into the auditorium of Park Community Church last night for a public meeting held by the city’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD) that was rumored to be about the 70-acre Lincoln Yards development, which would engulf and threaten the existence of the beloved music venue.

Tim and Katie Tuten, co-owners of the Hideout, had released a statement on Monday night saying they had asked the city to "delay any decisions on development, construction permits, and TIF’s until after the new mayor and city council are elected." The note was widely shared on social media with musicians, comedians, and lifelong Chicagoans voicing their support of the historic venue located on 1354 W. Wabansia.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

What we learned at the Chicago Humanities Festival about witches

Posted By on 11.13.18 at 10:30 AM

Sollée - COURTESY KRISTEN SOLLÉE
  • courtesy Kristen Sollée
  • Sollée

Last Thursday, Kristen Sollée, writer, editrix of the sex-positive feminist website Slutist, and lecturer at the New School, visited the Museum of Contemporary Art to speak about her book, Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive. According to Sollée, witches are having a moment (politically, aesthetically, and spiritually), and it's no coincidence that this comeback is happening now.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Joravsky’s election predictions—going where the New York Times is too scared to venture

Posted By on 11.06.18 at 04:00 PM

In the battle of the billionaires, Pritzker (left) will prevail
  • In the battle of the billionaires, Pritzker (left) will prevail
On Monday, the day before the big midterm elections, when all my friends were losing their minds with angst and anxiety, Nate Cohn weighed in with his election predictions.

Cohn's the numbers-crunching computer geek for the New York Times who goes through every poll from every district in every key race throughout the country to come up with rock-solid predictions about who's going to win what.

In other words, he's the Nate Silver of the New York Times.

Actually, Nate Silver used to be the Nate Silver of the New York Times—then he cut a better deal and took his blog to ESPN.

So now Nate Cohn is Nate Silver. Leading me to wonder—do you gotta be named Nate to get a numbers-crunching job with the New York Times?

Anyway, to ease my own election angst and anxiety, I eagerly dove into Cohn's front-page story. And this is what I read . . .

"Two vastly different outcomes remain easy to imagine. There could be a Democratic blowout that decisively ends Republicans' control of the House and even endangers their Senate majority. Or there could be a district-by-district battle for House control that lasts late on election night and perhaps for weeks after."

Are you kidding me? I mean, Nate Cohn—you call that a prediction? C'mon man, take a stand!

Essentially, Cohn wrote—the Democrats might win. Unless they don't. In which case, the Republicans will win.

Dude, I could have told you that, and my first name's not even Nate!

So allow me to do what the pros, like Cohn, apparently won't dare to do—make a real prediction in several major races, state and national. You can take it to Vegas, folks . . .

Governor: J.B. Pritzker v. Bruce Rauner All things being equal—and what's more equal than two billionaires running against each other?—politics is basically a popularity contest. In this case, you've got J.B., a fairly likable fella, versus Rauner. Nobody likes Rauner—not even the Republicans. Especially the Republicans. Pritzker wins—saving us from the potential nightmare of Rauner turning Illinois into a red state by gerrymandering the legislative and congressional maps after the upcoming census.

Attorney General: Kwame Raoul v. Erika Harold You'd think this would be a gimme for Raoul, the Democrat, what with Illinois being a solid blue state. But Harold has a chance because (1) She's a woman and this is said to be another "year of the woman," and (2) I think a lot of voters will feel compelled to vote for at least one Republican, if only to prove to themselves that they're independent minded. Of course, this prediction is contingent on the notion that Illinois liberals are so clueless that they'd rush to the polls to vote against all things Trump, and then turn right around and vote for an anti-choice Republican who wouldn't have the guts to stand up to the idiotic executive orders on everything from LGBTQ rights to the environment emanating from the Trump White House. I predict Raoul.

Fourteenth congressional district: Lauren Underwood v. Randy Hultgren This suburban congressional district was gerrymandered to protect the incumbency of Republicans—in this case, Hultgren, a Trump puppet. Yet, the district's drifting left as more Democrats move to the western suburbs. Yes, in 2016 Trump beat Clinton by four percentage points in the 14th. But that's down from the ten percentage points by which Romney beat Obama in 2012. Underwood's such a dynamic and exciting new face that she's winning many important endorsements. (Well, the Tribune's editorial board didn't endorse her. But its members also couldn't bring themselves to endorse Hillary Clinton—so I think we'll all agree that the Trib's pretty worthless when it comes to election advice.) At the start of the election cycle, many oddsmakers said Underwood didn't have a chance. But over the last few weeks the polls have tightened. I'm going with my heart—Underwood in a squeaker.

Sixth congressional district: Sean Casten v. Peter Roskam For as long as I can remember, the Sixth has been filled with DuPage County Republicans—it was Congressman Henry Hyde's old district. And yet, it too has been moving left—Hillary won it by seven percentage points over Trump. Roskam is an anti-choice, climate-change-denying Trump rubber-stamper who's done as he's been told to, even when it came to voting for last year's horrendous tax bill. I don't believe a majority of voters in a district that encompasses parts of DuPage, Lake, and suburban Cook Counties would vote for a climate-change denier over an environmentalist like Casten.

Uh-oh, between this race and the attorney general's, I’m exhibiting a lot of faith in voters. Man, this prognosticating thing is tough. No wonder Cohn wimped out. I'm going with faith, gulp. Casten wins.

U.S. Senate Alas, the calendar favors the Republicans, who already have a 51 to 49 advantage. In other words, there are more Democratic incumbents running for reelection in Trump states than Republican incumbents running for reelection in states that went for Hillary. So the Republicans will hold on to the Senate—even if the Dems win in Nevada and, dare I say it, Texas. But it won’t matter so much, 'cause . . .

U.S. House of Representatives The Dems will take the House.

Yeah, you heard it here first, people.

They need to flip 23 seats, and they'll do better than that—even with all the Republican gerrymandering.

So, yes, Trump will still be able to appoint judges, thanks to his Senate rubber-stampers. But the Dems will be able to provide some solid oversight in the House. And almost as soon as this election is over, guess what? We'll be gearing up for the next one.

That's right—2020 is just around the corner. I can't wait.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, November 5, 2018

Rahm’s legacy: fictitious narratives and real obligations

Posted By on 11.05.18 at 05:35 PM

council-022317-26_67242725.jpg

As hundreds of enthusiastic Democrats packed the UIC Pavilion on Sunday to join President Obama's get-out-the-vote rally in the upcoming do-or-die midterms, Mayor Rahm never looked so irrelevant.

It's not just that he wasn't onstage with Obama, J.B. Pritzker, Susana Mendoza, and other leaders of his Democratic Party to take a stand against Governor Rauner and Trump. Or that no one particularly wanted him onstage. Or that there are still Democrats in Chicago who have a hard time forgiving Rahm for ruling more like Mitt Romney than Barack Obama in his first term.

It's just that in general it seems he's already left town since he announced a few weeks ago that he wasn't running for reelection.

So let me just point out to all those wannabe mayors—Rahm's not gone yet. He's left two things that will haunt his successor for years: a fictitious narrative and some very real obligations.

First, let's deal with the narrative, as Rahm made use of it in his final budget address on October 17. Bragging about a budget that calls for no new property taxes, Rahm did what he does best—patted himself on the back. He reminisced about the dark days of 2010, when he came home from the Obama White House to run for mayor. The city, he said, "had reached a boiling point"—"many believed our best days were behind us." Some, he warned, even predicted "Chicago would be the next Detroit."

But, he went on, the naysayers were wrong. "To those who thought demise and decay were preordained," he proclaimed, "Chicagoans showed resolve and resilience that define the character of this great city."

Nice try, Rahm. Too bad it's not true.

OK, Chicagoans do have resolve and resilience. After all, we survived eight years of Rahm.

But nobody was saying the city Mayor Rahm inherited resembled Detroit. On the contrary, most people were praising Mayor Daley—the mayor Rahm succeeded—from saving Chicago from becoming Detroit. As exhibit A, consider this glowing New Yorker profile of Mayor Daley, published in 2010, just a few months before Daley stepped down.

"Daley took office at a moment when Chicago was paralyzed by infighting and mismanagement," the story begins. "In 1987 William Bennett, the Secretary of Education, said that Chicago had the worst school system in the country—'an education meltdown.' The center of the city was a desiccating museum of masterpieces by Mies van der Rohe and Louis Sullivan. Infant mortality in remote neighborhoods was comparable to levels in the Third World."

And, then, in 1989, Daley was elected mayor. "In the years that followed, Detroit, Cleveland, and other former industrial powers continued to wither, but Chicago did not. It has grown in population, income, and diversity; it has added more jobs since 1993 than Los Angeles and Boston combined. Downtown luxury condos and lofts have replaced old warehouses and office blocks. New trees and flower beds line the sidewalks and sprout from the roofs of high-rises. . . . Chicago is a postindustrial capital of innovation from house music to fashion—the Milan of the midwest, as the Washington Post put it last year."

Wait, wait—there's more in that profile, which was indicative of many written about Daley at that time.

Alderman Joe Moore likened Daley to "a rock star" as he recalled other mayors at a national conference rushing to "shake his hand, get autographs, just express their admiration."

Ed Rendell, former governor of Pennsylvania, called Daley "the best mayor in the history of the country."

And former alderman Bill Singer, pointing to all the buildings sprouting up on the west side, proclaimed, "with wonder in his voice" that "people want to live here."

As though before Daley that thought was inconceivable.

So if Chicago had already been "saved" from going the way of Detroit (and Cleveland) by "the best mayor in the history of the country," how can Rahm get away with claiming credit for saving it again only eight years later?

Obviously, he's banking on Chicagoans—for all their resolve and resilience—having lousy memories. Or maybe he's hoping they'll believe whatever propaganda he feeds them. And we all know is that Rahm's been feeding us propaganda from the moment he walked into office.

The reality is that Chicago was not as bad as Daley's admirers say it was when Daley took over, and it wasn't so great when he left. So, yes, Rahm should get some credit for starting to confront the financial obligations that Daley ignored. Just as Daley's predecessors—Mayors Harold Washington and Eugene Sawyer—should get more credit for steering the city through some rocky times during the 80s. Like we'll ever see that happen.

Daley had a bad habit of pushing off debt to future generations, or trying to pay our bills with such scams as the parking meter deal. Anything to avoid raising property taxes. So Rahm ultimately had to deal with the backlash of raising taxes and fees—after having wasted his first four years in office trying to avoid property tax hikes.

And that brings me to the next thing Rahm's successor will inherit—the obligations. For all Rahm's talk about taking on tough challenges, he left billions of dollars of pension debt for his successor to wrestle with. His last budget is a classic election-year budget. By that, I mean it's based on rosy projections of income they expect to have on hand to spend.

Mayors love to make rosy budget projections at election time. That way they can run for reelection on a promise that they're holding the line on taxes even as they brag about paving streets, hiring cops, and offering summer jobs for youngsters.

As Mayor Rahm did in his last budget.

And then once they're reelected, they can turn right around and announce—oops, our income is less than we projected. Looks like we'll have to raise taxes after all.

Clearly, Mayor Rahm was still planning to run for reelection when he crafted this budget. At the very least, he didn't want to make his loyal aldermen have to vote on a tax hike before they run for reelection. So he resorted to a good-news budget that any incumbent would want to use in a reelection campaign.

Now that Rahm's not running, it will be up to his successor to break the bad news about higher taxes sometime next year. By this time, Rahm will be living the good life of an ex-mayor, giving speeches and writing books—probably about how he saved Chicago from becoming the next Detroit.

So it goes with mayors. You watch—in eight or so years, our next mayor—be it Lori Lightfoot, Toni Preckwinkle, Amara Enyia, Troy LaRaviere, Willie Wilson, whoever—will probably be bragging about having saved Chicago from financial ruin. If so, I only ask that he or she refrain from mentioning Detroit in that oration. Poor Detroit has been used and abused enough.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Manic Mondays Frances Cocktail Lounge
November 20

Tabbed Event Search

The Bleader Archive

Popular Stories