by Lesley R. Chinn
As the Chatham Business Association (CBA) gets ready to celebrate 37 years of community service at its upcoming gala fundraiser entitled, “Restore, Realize, and Live the Dream,” a retired history professor highlighted Black entrepreneurship at the organization’s regular monthly meeting and said CBA members stand on the success of other pioneer African- American business owners.
Dr. Christopher Reed, from Roosevelt University, touted past and present Blackowned businesses such as the Illinois Service Federal, Supreme Life Insurance Company, Seaway Bank, Binga Bank, Victory Life Insurance, as examples of how Chicago gained its reputation as a mecca for Black-owned businesses during the 19th and 20th centuries. Many of them, including Victory Life Insurance, Supreme Life, and the Binga Bank, were located in the Black metropolis area (known as Bronzeville) from 26th Street to 55th Street between Wentworth to Cottage Grove before businesses such as Seaway Bank and Independence Bank made their mark in Chatham.
Reed said the success in Chatham is an affirmation of the dreams that started in the Black Metropolis. “You are doing something that is part of a tradition,” Reed told CBA members. “Just as they succeeded until the Great Depression, you’re going to succeed as this recession is ending.”
With Black-owned businesses such as Seaway Bank and Illinois Service Federal Bank still standing strong, Reed said Chatham has the potential to thrive. “More and more Blacks can own their own businesses but they have to convince themselves of [those possibilities],” he stated.
At the CBA fundraiser held on September 18 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, the organization will honor Theresa “TJ” Hughes, owner of REO Movers; Spencer Leak, owner of Leak and Sons Funeral Home, and Charles Hudson, of Diamond Waste and Recycling for their outstanding service and longevity in the Chatham community. The fundraiser will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m. followed by a dinner at 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $150 per person. For more information, call the CBA at (773) 994-5006.
In her analysis about entrepreneurship perceptions on mentoring relationships among Black male and female business owners, Barbara J. Andrews has found that minorities view mentoring as a contributing factor for success. Andrews, a doctoral candidate at the Chicago campus of Argosy University, is currently working on a study entitled, “A Midwestern Business Association Comparison of Black Male and Female Entrepreneurship Perceptions of Mentoring Relationships.”
When it comes to seeking assistance, Andrews has learned that Black men prefer to be mentored by other male entrepreneurs while women have mixed views on who they feel should mentor them. Andrews’is including the Chatham Business Association in her study and is using the group as an example of a Midwest urban organization that mentors Black entrepreneurs and youth.
The use of technology was addressed by Rosa Escareno, deputy director of the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, who explained how CBA members can establish a web presence, generate leads through e-marketing, talk to experts about using technology, and gain tools for a more efficient operation at the Chicago Tech Expo, held on October 1 at the UIC Forum, 725 W. Roosevelt from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Early registration is $35. The onsite cost is $50. For more information, visit: www.chicagotechexpo.net or call (312) 744-5430.
by Lesley R. Chinn
Soldier Field will be the place to be for the Chicago Football Classic featuring the September 26 gridiron match up between the Alabama State University Hornets and. the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils. But last week, it was the spot for 50 clergymen who pledged to support higher education.
“The Faith Based Coalition for the Chicago Football Classic,” demonstrated its commitment to improving quality education when the ministers announced that they would sell 15,000 seats to raise funds for a $75,000 scholarship initiative.
Five dollars in proceeds from the $15 dollar tickets will be donated towards the scholarship initiative. The scholarship program will be left up to the individual churches to send their young people off to a Historically Black College or University. “For example, if my church sells enough tickets and we get $5,000 back, what we’re going to do is divide that up among our young people,” said Rev. Albert Tyson, pastor of St. Stephens AME Church. “So it’s not just about the powerful weekend, the activities, and the culture that surrounds a Historically Black College football game, but it’s also about an opportunity to say to our young people that we’re going to [raise some money] because we know that some of [them] will not be financially able to go to college.”
Ever since the Classic began 12 years ago, Larry Huggins, Classic co-chairman, said the ministers have always participated in the game, but a program has not really been put in place to engage them. The scholarship initiative is the first program of its magnitude designed to accomplish this.
“One of the things we talked about is the importance of scholarship,” Huggins stated. “We always promoted giving back to the community in terms of scholarships.
“The ministers truly know from their congregation[s] who is really experiencing hardship and where those scholarship dollars can go. So that’s why we decided to engage them, to really get behind this Classic,” Huggins continued. “If the churches get involved, they can really [help] fill this stadium up.”
As he pointed to Section 400 of Soldier Field, which the pastors dubbed as the “Section for Heaven,” Rev. Tyson expressed confidence about a sold-out crowd. “We have gathered an array of faith-based persons…to fill up this section,” he proclaimed.
However, Rev. Walter Turner, president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Chicago, also called on other pastors and social agencies to support the Classic for the youth. “We don’t just want to fill up the “Section for Heaven,” we want to fill up Soldier Field.”
by Shanita Bigelow
The July 16 arrest of Harvard professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr., fueled a nationwide debate on race, more specifically, racial profiling.
President Barack Obama’s “beer summit” brought Gates and Sergeant James Crowley, the arresting officer, together to discuss the highly publicized incident. Both left the “summit” generally appeased and with plans to meet again, according to CNN.
Beer summit aside, the very serious and sensitive issue of racial profiling has been on the radar and on the books of the Illinois State Legislature for more than six years.
The Illinois Traffic Stop Statistics Study Law or Racial Profiling Law, sponsored by State Representative Monique D. Davis and supported by then State Senator Obama, was recently extended until 2015.
Work on the bill was initiated in 2003 due to a multitude of complaints from all over the city that racial profiling was taking place as minorities were being stopped and searched and “…when nothing was found, they were summarily sent away,” Davis said. These complaints in conjunction with claims from some that racial profiling was “…a myth of our imagination…” propelled Davis and her colleagues, who in a bipartisan effort passed the legislation, to prove the existence or non-existence of racially biased policing practices.
By law, Illinois police officers must record specific information during traffic stops. Along with the date, time and location of the stop, they must also record the name, address, gender and their subjective opinion of the race of the person stopped. The alleged violation leading to the stop, the year and make of the stopped vehicle and whether there was a search of the vehicle, driver or passenger(s) and if so, whether the search was conducted with consent, must also be recorded. Also required are the name and badge number of the officer.
Data analysis sponsored by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has revealed a disturbing trend as outlined in the 2008 Illinois Traffic Stop Study (ITSS) conducted by UIC Center for Research in Law and Justice: “In 2008, the statewide ratio was 1.13. That is, the percentage of minority drivers stopped in the state was 32.14 percent, but the estimated minority driving population in Illinois is 28.48 percent. This ratio indicates that a minority driver was roughly 13 percent more likely to be stopped than a Caucasian driver.”
The results of these studies are reviewed annually. Due to the consistency of these results, former Governor Rod Blagojevich extended the study until July 2010 in 2005, but he failed to appoint a task force “…to determine what further action should be taken” in places where racial profiling is prevalent, Davis stated.
The most recent extension, signed by Gov. Pat Quinn on August 25 comes at a time when the state is facing a lot of difficult choices. Police forces have substantially decreased. “We need good police officers,” Davis continued. Her office is urging Gov. Quinn to select a task force, so as to find the best remedies for this alarming trend.
“This study has helped police departments across the state to recognize and fight racial profiling… extending it until 2015 will keep this important work going and help ensure that everyone in Illinois is treated equally and fairly during traffic stops,” a spokesman from Gov. Quinn’s office said.
Quinn’s, Daley’s or Stroger’s?
There’s always two sides to every story but open the daily papers and you’ll see that the mainstream edia is loosely throwing around labels and mproperly giving ownership of the sales tax situation o the county.
In determining how Chicago’s overall sales tax of 0.25 percent made it the highest of any large city in he country, you have to rewind the tape, flip it over, isten to both sides of the story and then give it a roper label.
But that’s not what we see happening— especially in the mainstream media.
Last week, the plot thickened as Cook County Commissioners failed to override Board President Todd Stroger’s veto of a partial sales tax rollback. The situation took a turn for the worse when an anonymous caller, uttering hateful speech, left messages on Commissioner Deborah Sims’ (D-5) voicemail after she voted not to override a veto of the rollback. For that, Sims was called a “nigger bitch” and the caller said to her, ‘I hope to God you get f———-AIDS and die.’Sims received the calls last Wednesday.
Somehow, somewhere, this whole sales tax issue got muddled in the process and the mainstream media has had a lot to do with it. For voters, an explanation of how we got here in the first place is worth clarifying, stopping the action and rewinding the tape.
In June 2006, the Cook County Board of Commissioners voted to give pay increases (called COLA’s) Cost of Living Adjustments to non-union and unionized employees. Everyone who was employed by Cook County received these Cost of Living Adjustments. Each Commissioner (there are 17 of them) voted for the pay increases, but at that time, a determination of how to pay for those raises was not made. However, Commissioners Larry Sufferdin; Anthony Pericia; Forrest Claypool and Michael Quigley; all Republican Commissioners, approved the increases.
Now let’s fast forward…
In November of 2006, when Todd Stroger officially began serving his four year term in December 2006, he was handed a half a billion dollar deficit ($500,000.00.) Stroger made cuts, ordered furlough days and ended up laying off county workers. He also asked the 11 elected county officials to cut their budgets by 17 percent. The only elected official to do so was Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore.
In budget year 2007, fights ensued as to how to pay for the raises. The sitting president (who by the way never has a vote as to what’s in or what’s out of the budget) was publicly blamed. It’s also important to note that the Commissioners determine what cuts will be made or if taxes are raised.
In spite of these facts, the mainstream media has continued to call the sales tax “Stroger’s Tax,” but why?
In reality, it was the Cook County Board of Commissioners who voted to raise the county’s portion of the sales tax from .75 to 1.75 percent. Stroger has stood firm on the issue because of questions concerning the impact a tax cut would have on the county hospitals and clinics that serve the poor.
The tax includes a 1 percent increase. It is a “Penny on every dollar spent,” and contrary to what the media reports, the increase is the portion that the county receives from the OVERALL sales tax. The increase does not include certain items including medicines; prescriptions; groceries; cars and homes.
The overall sales tax is 10.25 percent and is broken down this way:
The State of Illinois receives 6.25 percent of the tax on every dollar spent which ends up being over 67 percent of the entire tax.
The City of Chicago receives 1.25 percent of the tax on every dollar spent while the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) receives 1 percent of the tax on every dollar.
The County receives 1.75 percent of the tax on every dollar spent which comes to 17 percent of the entire tax.
Todd Stroger holds one of the most powerful positions in the County. At the same time, President Obama, the Commander-in-Chief of the United Sates government, plans to speak to America’s youth by encouraging them to stay in school and to work hard in his position as President. For this, the President has come under fire. But for what, when other Presidents have made similar speeches?
When a Black president reaches out to youth to motivate them, he is labeled a socialist, not a role model. When it comes to the county, the media portrays it as “Todd’s Tax” but at the same time, when Governor Pat Quinn recently raised the sales tax on candy, pop alcohol and cigarettes etc. (anywhere from 2.5 to over six percent) the media didn’t call it “Quinn’s Sales Tax.” (This was true even as Quinn proposed expanding the sales tax to include items not currently covered by the sales tax itself!)
Moreover, an analysis of the tax situation in the city is necessary where the sales tax is higher in the downtown area in Chicago mainly because Mayor Richard M. Daley raised the sales tax for people who eat in restaurants downtown; stay in hotels and who go to Navy Pier etc. Over the past couple of years, the City of Chicago has raised over 9 different taxes, taxing everything from bottled water (5 cents per bottle) in 2007 and property taxes were just increased again last week. With the parking meters; the shutdown of the City last Monday; and even the Mayor himself saying that the city will still be 600,000.00 in debt in 2010, why isn’t anyone assigning any labels to Daley? Why isn’t this being called, “Daley’s Tax?”
Like we said, there’s two sides to every story. When the President of the United States, an African-American wants to speak to the children, he’s vilified and labeled. When it comes to the county, led by another African-American, the tax , even when it involves all levels of government— it’s labeled, “Todd’s Tax Hike.”
Everyone hates paying taxes and while we don’t like them anymore than anyone else, what we hate more— is a doublestandard. Why assign labels to some leaders and not to others when the situations are the same? Is that discrimination, underlying racism or what? We’re just calling it as we see it …and if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then usually, it’s a duck.
by Lesley R. Chinn
After voting not to override a veto of a sales tax rollback, Commissioner Deborah Sims (D-5) became the target of numerous racial threats and was vilified by some of her colleagues, but when she made a guest appearance last Sunday at Sweet Holy Spirit Church, she was treated with a hero’s welcome.
Sims, who seemed like her mind was at peace as she rocked backand- forth to praise and worship songs at Sweet Holy Spirit, was presented with the community’s Hero’s of Healthcare Certificate by the church’s senior pastor Bishop Larry D. Trotter.
“We thank Commissioner Sims for continuing to fight even under scrutiny, ridicule and undue circumstances. She has taken a beating by many because she believes in helping her community,” Trotter said. “Commissioner Deborah Sims is a hero among us.”
The certificate was presented following last Tuesday’s showdown vote when Sims began receiving racist threats. The caller referred to Sims as a “nigger bitch” and also stated, ‘I hope to God you get f—— —-AIDS and die.’ Those calls were received last Wednesday evening. Sims played the messages for the Citizen last week.
The Fifth District Commissioner said she was surprised and thankful to receive the honor as she walked up to the podium to stand with Bishop Trotter.
“When you talk about closing hospitals, people losing their jobs, and a President who is talking about what’s going on with health care today, this [my vote to sustain the veto] was something that I was supposed to do,” Sims stated.
With Sims by his side, Trotter condemned the racist caller for attacks and said that whoever is responsible needs prayer while the congregation continued to pray for the Commissioner as she continues fighting for health care on behalf of the people. “We need the Cook County medical center opened because a lot of people use those hospitals and clinics,” Trotter said.
Shocked and outraged by the derogatory messages, Sims said she never would have thought that people would still use racial epithets especially in 2009 while there is a Black man sitting in the White House as President who is advocating for quality health care for all citizens. “We should have been past that but I guess I’m wrong about that,” she stated.
Sims said she plans to continue on with her life and put everything into “God’s hands” for protection.
Meanwhile, Sims said the Cook County Sheriff’s Office is currently conducting an ongoing investigation. A group of ministers who attended a press conference to rally around Sims last Thursday are calling on U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s Office to also look into this case.
In July, Sims said she considered voting for the rollback but she decided that she wasn’t going to make such a drastic decision knowing that it would close the clinics in her Far South suburban district. “I needed to protect the clinics in my district and I wanted to make sure they did not close,” Sims stated. “We don’t know definitely how much money we’re going to get from the sales tax and we won’t know that until October.”
If the vote to sustain the veto on the sales tax were to ever come up again, Sims, who previously received a threat in 2005 for voting in favor of the County’s budget, said she would vote the same way she did last week. “If people are losing their jobs and they need health care and don’t have it, where are they going to go,” she asked?
While Sims took the heat for standing up for the people, Commissioner Robert Steele (D-2) was one of many commissioners who did the opposite. Steele voted in favor of the tax rollback.
When asked why he voted against the constituents, Steele said he did not. “I didn’t vote against the constituents. I represent the richest and poorest of Chicago. They are not one set of constituents,” he replied. However, when Steele was asked if his constituents use county health care system’s services, he said yes they do. He also said the system would not close.
by Lesley R. Chinn
In a struggling economy, we already know how some Americans in Illinois are making it where more than 10.4 percent of the population is unemployed according to reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Illinois Department of Employment Security. But how are elected officials who help shape and implement the laws that affect the economy living?
On the federal, state, county and local levels, the Citizen took a look at how elected officials are living in terms of where they live, how much they make, where they work on the side, where they eat and with the current debate on healthcare reform—what kind of benefits they receive.
How’s Your Senator’s and Congressman’s Healthcare Coverage?
Year after year, not having health insurance coverage and decent salaries has angered taxpayers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 47 million people are uninsured. The number of uninsured people rose from 44.8 million in 2005 to 47 million in 2006.
Right now, the average pay for Senators and Congressmen is $174,000 annually, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. In addition to the salary, the benefits aren’t so bad either. Each elected official on the federal level receives retirement and health benefits under the same plans available to other federal employees. According to the Federal Employees Retirement System, members elected since 1984 are covered under this plan. Anyone elected before 1984 is covered under the Civil Service Retirement System. In 1984, Senators and Congressmen were given the option of switching between CSRS or FERS.
Members of Congress are also eligible for health care coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. The program covers 8.3 million Americans who are federal employees, who can choose from 19 different plans, ranging from fee-for-service options to health maintenance organizations.
How Does Illinois Compare?
Gov. Pat Quinn who cut his salary in March and who earns according to AccountabilityIllinois.gov a yearly salary of $126,451, recently took aim at lawmakers’ pay raises by using his amendatory veto power to propose eliminating yearly pay raises for good. Moreover, a National Conference of State Legislatures report in 2008 found that Illinois lawmakers earn a lot more than legislators in neighboring states with a base pay of $67,836 annually compared to Iowa legislators who make $25,000 a year. In Missouri, lawmakers earn $31,350 and in Wisconsin, the base pay for legislators was $47,413. This year, the base salary for Indiana lawmakers went up to $20,700 from 11,600 annually.
Living Large Literally, How Much Is That House Worth?
Mayor Richard M. Daley previously experienced some controversy surrounding a fire that engulfed a property belonging to two of his neighbors near his summer home in Grand Beach, MI. The fire could have been prompted by an angry response to Chicago Police officers who according to authorities, shot and killed a cougar spotted in the Roscoe Village neighborhood. The house, destroyed in the fire, was worth between $2 and $3 million but Daley’s summer home was not damaged. Although the mayor’s office failed to return calls to discuss how much taxpayers are footing the bill to protect his property out of state, a UPI article mentioned a Chicago Police Officer assigned to protect Daley’s summer home in Michigan, apprehended convicted murderer Charles Smith, 48, who escaped from an Indiana State maximum security prison in July. Based on home addresses provided by the Chicago Board of Elections, a Citizen analysis of data taken from Realtor.com found a few aldermen, depending on where they live, have homes worth over $1 million—-similar to the value of the homes owned by Daley’s nearby neighbors.
What Does Your Mayor Do On the Side?
While some people are finding it hard to find one job, many mayors in the South Suburbs hold down two. Although it’s not unusual for suburban mayors to work part-time for the cities over which they preside, Mayor Terry Wells, according to VillageofPhoenix.com, holds down a U.S. History teaching job at Thornton Township High School in Harvey while South Holland Mayor Don DeGraff works as president of MB Financial Bank (Southeast Region) based on information provided on his official website. Harvey Mayor Eric J. Kellogg serves as Assistant Superintendent of School District 152 and Hazel Crest Mayor Bob Donaldson doubles up as director and professor of the Public Administration program at Governors State University. East Hazel Crest Mayor Thomas Brown serves as law partner for his firm Swanson and Brown, Flossmoor Mayor Paul Braun acts a Managing Partner for his law firm of Braun and Edwards and Sauk Village Mayor Lewis Towers works as a branch manager in the Markham division of the Cook County Tax Assessor’s Office based on information submitted from staff officials. Dixmoor Mayor Keevan Grimmett is an account executive for Star Planet Television in Chicago. Homewood Village President Rich Hofeld is the owner of HouseMasters Home Inspections and Blue Island Mayor Donald Peloquin is a funeral director at Hickey Funeral Home with three locations in Blue Island, Midlothian, and New Lenox.
Calls to other South Suburban Mayors including Lynwood Mayor Gene Williams; Riverdale Mayor Deyon Dean; Markham Mayor David Webb Jr.; Chicago Heights Mayor Alex Lopez; and Ford Heights Mayor Charles Griffin went unreturned by Citizen’s presstime.
Where they Eat?
Whether it is in Chicago or the suburbs, elected officials frequent Chicago eateries where the cost of a meal can be as low as $7.50 for a corned beef sandwich at Manny’s Coffee Shop and Deli, located in the South Loop at 1141 S. Jefferson, which holds itself out as a popular spot for politicians, including Daley who once hosted a 2006 fundraiser for $1,000 a plate.
When they aren’t eating at Manny’s, another popular spot is Gibson’s Restaurant, located on 1028 N. Rush St. and Phil Stefani’s Signature Restaurants, a conglomerate of downtown restaurants which includes the famous 437 Rush Restaurant, where frequent diners have been Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she was Senator and her husband, former United States President Bill Clinton. At Gibson’s, a person could spend as much as $130.00 for a meal which could include an appetizer, salad and dinner entrée.
The restaurant, which has another location in Rosemont, has been a staple of Gold Coast dining for nearly 20 years where countless autographed photographs of athletes, movie stars, politicians, rock stars, and entertainers are on display.
by Lesley R. Chinn
While the Montclare Senior Residence Homes of Avalon Park is still under construction until early October, applications are still being accepted for those who want to become residents. Although 85 percent of the applications are coming from the 6th and 8th wards, other residents living in the city and in nearby suburbs are able to apply.
So far, 30 percent of the independentliving senior apartments which will be located at 1200 E. 78th Street, have been leased since the application process began in July, according to Andrea Rowell, Montclare’s leasing consultant, adding that tenants can start moving in by the end of September. “We want to be 100 percent leased out [by December 31]. There are still plenty of opportunities available. We encourage people to take care of this now before the snow hits,” Rowell stated.
Noting that the construction is 85 percent completed, Phillip Mappa, managing director for Montclare, said people are interested in seeing the finished product before they sign a lease. “We think once everyone sees the kind of building that we’re constructing, we should have no problem leasing up the rest of the units,” Mappa stated.
Rent starts at $366 for a studio apartment and in order to qualify, applicants must be on a low or fixedincome and be aged 55 and older. The current federal income limits range from approximately $8,250 to $31,680 for one person and $9,000 to $36,180 for two people. “It’s not a lot of residential opportunities out there for them [seniors] where they are living in a clean, safe environment. That’s what most of them are looking for,” Rowell said.
If applicants sign a lease before September 30, they can take advantage of Montclare’s grand opening special offering two months free rent. Once applicants become new residents, they can enjoy the same amenities such as spacious closets; a complete kitchen with full-sized apartments; and services including a free shuttle van to local grocery stores and a barber and beauty shop like Montclare’s Senior Residences on 6650 W. Belden in the Galewood neighborhood on the city’s West side. “The folks are looking forward to moving in and they are happy to have a safe place to come to with the amenities that the place has,” said Rowell, who often shows prospective tenants a DVD presentation of the Galewood site just so they’ll have an idea of what the Avalon Park site has to offer.
Mappa added that all the high-end amenities are free of charge to the tenants. He also mentioned that tax credits provided help make these services possible, in addition to keeping the rent at a low cost.
Collin Regan, who is also a managing director at Montclare, mentioned that the Avalon Park site will be similar in structure to the Galewood site, which is about 335 units. “Our plan is to have as many as 300 units on the property,” Regan stated.
Community leaders including Eighth Ward Ald. Michelle Harris, members of the Chatham Business Association, and Citizen Newspapers previously met with the developers for the Montclare Senior Residences to discuss contracting opportunities. The CBA, where Bill Garth is Chairman, renegotiated contracts on the construction project to ensure more than 50 percent of Black community participation was reached. Garth, also Publisher and CEO of the Chicago Citizen Newspaper Group, made the announcement last spring.
The overall cost of the entire project is $60 million including $22 million for the first phase, according to Mappa.
An open house will be scheduled later this month at Montclare’s Avalon Park facility where the leasing office will be relocated. Applicants are encouraged to stop by Montclare’s leasing office at 8441 S. Cottage Grove. For additional information, call (773) 933-9000 or visit www.themontclare.com.
by Shanita Bigelow
As reports of Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis’ pride in the 9% decrease in overall crime and 11% decrease in homicides so far this year make headlines, there’s the fight to solve cases that have gone cold. Weis has faced much criticism this year, from his public endorsement of Obama to his vote of noconfidence from the Fraternal Order of the Police.
“He made some mistakes when he got in. He’s tried to rectify some of those mistakes…and now, he has to try to recover,” Police Committee Chairman Isaac Carothers told the Sun Times as Weis made his third City Council appearance of the year in mid- March.
But as Weis takes the heat in Chicago, the Illinois State Police (ISP) face the flames of criticism and accountability. A March, Illinois Auditor General report revealed that the ISP crime labs had more than a 200% increase in backlogged cases from fiscal year 2002 to 2007 (3,426 to 10, 387 cases). The ISP crime lab, the third largest system of crime labsin the world, consists of nine labs throughout Illinois. The report exposed the “inaccurate and misleading information” recorded by the ISP labs, as well as the understaffing and frequent delays in delivering case results.
“Nearly half…responded that problems with timeliness negatively impacted a case in the past five years…delays in receiving results hindered the prosecution of cases including not filing cases, dismissing cases, cases being delayed and losing cases. Delays have also affected law enforcement’s ability to arrest suspects or keep suspects in custody, and have caused individuals to remain suspects longer than necessary,” according to the report.
To add insult to injury, an estimated 50,000 felons were released from state prisons and county probation without submitting DNA samples as required by law, leaving potentially violent criminals out on the streets, the Chicago Tribune reports. The “All Felons DNA Law” enacted in 2002 was a necessary move for “[i]t is imperative that our state’s DNA database be as complete and accurate as possible to ensure that we are locating and convicting those who committed crimes and exonerating those who are not guilty,” Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in a February 2008 press release.
It’s a year and a half later and despite the controversy and the delays, there have been some successes. Illinois has collected samples from over 300,000 criminals, according to the Chicago Tribune. Physical evidence from the Brown’s Chicken murders, processed by the Chicago crime lab, used to convict Juan Luna in the grisly murders will also be used as evidence against James Degorski, currently on trial for the now 16 year old case, according to the Chicago Tribune. In July, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced the arrest of Chicagoan Rudy Thompson in the six year old murder of Francisco Villanueva, a food and beverage vendor killed after an attempted robbery.
As these reports continue to surface, they provide some hope for those who have yet to see justice. There are 37 cases on CPD’s cold case Web site. The oldest is the 1970 murder of Wendell Allen, who came with his wife and child to visit family. The perpetrator( s) threw a Molotov cocktail, a crude bomb, into the room where he and his family were sleeping. He died from his injuries.
The two year old case of Victoria Dysart, a 22 year old shooting victim, is the most recent case. The 1983 murders of 76 year old John Frantz and eight year old Tamoi Taylor are reminders of the breadth of suffering, the multitude of families all over Chicago who have yet to find closure.
by Shanita Bigelow
The Chicago Dispatcher, a monthly publication for Chicago’s taxi drivers and passengers, determined to “…raise the overall level of professionalism in the taxicab industry and to continuously improve the quality of life of its participants,” recently released a study comparing cab fares across the country, said George Lutfallah, publisher of the Chicago Dispatcher. How does Chicago compare to other bustling cities like New York and Los Angeles?
“We wanted to see how Chicago taxicab rates stack up in comparison to taxicab rates in other parts of the country. The rates in other cities were found through regulator Web sites or by looking in the ordinances. So we looked up source information rather than getting it from unreliable sources such as general Web sites. We calculated the rates using a standard five mile trip with five minutes of waiting time. Taxicab meters generally run on time and distance so we used the five mile, five minute waiting time as a standard for comparison purposes,” Lutfallah stated.
The “standard” five miles with five minutes of waiting is merely a reduction of the complexity, the “idiosyncrasies” that often determine fare rates. The Chicago Dispatcher chose to omit extra fees and surcharges to keep all the cities and counties on the same playing field. Each city or county abides by its own rules in regards to charging for luggage, additional passengers, etc., according to the Chicago Dispatcher. For instance, Los Angeles has an initial charge of $2.85 of which $0.20 goes towards a “bandit enforcement fund,” the Chicago Dispatcher reports.
Chicago’s rates are determined by City Council. The City of Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection lists an initial charge of $2.25 for the first 1/9 mile and $0.20 per each additional 1/9 mile, as well as another $0.20 for every 36 seconds. There are other charges. It is $1.00 for the first additional person and $0.50 for each person after that, according to the Department of Business Affairs. Despite these charges, Chicago still has one of the lowest rates in the country.
The current “standard fare” (five miles, five minutes) for Chicago is $12.72, substantially low when compared to Los Angeles ($18.48), Cleveland ($15.17), and New York City ($14.10), according to the Chicago Dispatcher. But cab drivers and chauffeurs along with the Chicago Dispatcher have proposed a rate increase.
“A fare increase is being proposed to make Chicago taxicab fares equitable… The rates we proposed take Chicago taxicab rates from among the lowest in the country to about average,” Lutfallah said.
Proposed rate changes would include an initial charge of $2.75 for the first 1/7 mile and $0.30 for each additional 1/7 mile as well as every 35 seconds, totaling a “standard fare” of $15.52, according to the Chicago Dispatcher. Other proposed charges include a $1.50 credit card convenience fee, a $1.00 surcharge for trips to McCormick Place and a $1.00 dispatch fee for phoned taxicab orders. Currently there are no charges for credit card use or luggage, according to the Department of Business Affairs.
Rates typically change every four years, Lutfallah said. The last change was made in 2005.