by Shanita Bigelow
As a nation, America is facing many challenges, chief among them, the economy, education and healthcare, but the rate of climate change has buoyed the need for renewable resources and the environment up there with them.
“We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril, and claimed opportunity from ordeal,” President Barack Obama said in his February 24 address to a Joint Session of Congress. “Now we must be that nation again…It begins with energy.”
The Obama Administration, determined to create more jobs, lower energy costs, and our dependence on foreign oil, has promised to invest in a nationwide transition to renewable
resources like wind and solar power, clean coal and biofuels.
On such project, the “Green Power Express,” proposed by ITC Holdings Corporation, a Michigan-based transmission power developer, has gained preliminary approval by the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission for a 3,000 mile wind power pipeline. But the costs, estimated between $10 and $12 billion, has been a cause of concern for Illinois consumer advocates.
“[We] definitely support wind power, but you have to ask, what are the benefits, what are the costs? [Is it] green power for the sake of green power?” Jim Chilsen, spokesman for the Citizens Utility Board (CUB), said.
Illinois consumers would have to pay a portion of the potentially $12 billion project, but it is too early to know just how much. The question is, whatever the cost, is it worth it?
“…the Green Power Express…would result in a reduction of up to 34 million metric tons in carbon emissions…equivalent to the annual emissions of about…nine to 11 million automobiles,” said ITC Holdings spokeswoman, Louise Beller. “A modern grid will solve our environmental and renewable energy challenges and improve reliability and associated costs to the economy.”
The obvious benefits of this regional project, designed to transfer wind power from wind-rich states in the upper Midwest to cities like Chicago, are astounding, but perhaps misleading,
according to Mark Pruitt, executive director of the Illinois Power Agency.
Wind is variable, according to Pruitt, and would need to be backed up by additional energy sources like coal or natural gas. And just as variable as the wind, is consumer demand.
“Variable input [wind] and demand are very hard to balance… it throws pricing,” Pruitt said.
There are other green projects that would be more beneficial to Illinois consumers, according to Chilsen.
“Do we [Illinois] have enough energy? Yes,” Pruitt said. “Do we need more power? No. Do we need more renewable energy? Arguably, yes. Should we develop or import [it]? We have to weigh the costs.”
by Lesley R. Chinn
While a vacant property on 78th and Cottage Grove has been described by residents as an “eyesore” in the community, several groups want to bring it back to life.
Ronald E. Garner, architect for the building and president of Group Design Associates expressed an interest in the building during a Sixth Ward meeting. Garner, who said the property has been vacant for more than 15 years, added the Nation of Islam (NOI) owned the building more than 30 years ago.
Under the leadership of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the NOI owned the building in the 1970s until his death in 1975, according to Garner and Maurice Farrakhan, project director for the proposed property. However, the organization lost the property in probate court in the early 1980s. Garner added that it would take more than $3.5 million to revitalize the building while construction could last anywhere from 12 to 14 months.
The NOI joins other business leaders including Spencer Leak Sr. of Leak and Sons Funeral Home and Bren Sheriff, co-owner of Amaxx Title Services, who have also expressed an interest in the property. Sheriff was “shocked” to find out that there was a third party of interest in the property because she thought that she and Leak were the only two parties involved. While Bro. Leonard Muhammad, advisor to Nation of Islam Min. Louis Farrakhan, said he is “confident,” that NOI’s proposal will be selected, both Sheriff and the NOI expressed an interest in working together if Sheriff’s proposal is not accepted. Proposals will be presented to the Department of Planning this week which will make a decision about the future of the building
by Shanita Bigelow and Lesley R. Chinn
When the television cameras are no longer shining on the faces of family members interviewed by reporters about loved ones lost to tragedy and violence, the pain still lingers for those left behind. In many situations, the crimes have never been solved.
As the fatal beating of 16-year-old Derrion Albert, a Fenger High School honor student recently prompted the Obama administration to dispatch Atty. General Eric Holder and education Secretary Arne Duncan to meet with city officials in Chicago to deal with the growing problem of violence, some parents who have walked in the same shoes as Albert’s family – are still looking for closure.
“I’m existing,” said Pamela Montgomery-Bosley, mother of murder victim Terrell Bosley, shot April 4, 2006 on his way to choir practice. “I’ve been talking to detectives…they say the only way they can do anything is if someone steps forward.” In the weeks following Bosley’s death, a suspect was charged, but released due to a lack of evidence. There weren’t enough witnesses, according to Montgomery-Bosley. “We went to court for two years… [and] nobody has been arrested for my son.” She continues to pass out flyers in hopes that someone
will come forward. Speaking on the continued violence, she said, “I don’t think it’s going to change.”
Holder and Duncan’s visit continues the Obama Administration’s commitment to combating violence which included such efforts as the White House Gang Violence Prevention and Crime Control Conference held in August; $13 million from the Recovery Act to hire 50 officers to combat crime and $24 million to support anti-crime programs like Operation Ceasefire in Chicago.
Duncan announced that the Department of Education is working with Chicago Public Schools to award a $500,000 grant to help Fenger High School and the elementary schools that feed into Fenger.
“We need action now,” said Willie Williams Jr., father of murder victim Willie Williams III, shot April 1, 2006 after leaving Ford City Theaters. Of his son’s case, Williams could only say that “it’s good when [we] get them [murderers] off the streets.” “I want this to stop…Don’t come in and talk, come in and do…not tomorrow…[but] today,” said Williams in reference to the recent visit by Duncan and Holder.
And while justice has been served in some cases – it is not enough.
“The case has been solved. The suspect got 100 years,” Annette Holt, mother of Blair Holt, shot on a CTA bus in May 2007, said. “Some people would say that’s good, but it still doesn’t bring your child back.” The solution is prevention and as Montgomery-Bosley, Williams and Holt maintain, “It starts at home.”
“We have to change the inside, the school, the parents, and the neighborhoods,” Holt insists.
by Lesley R. Chinn
Before a standing room crowd on Tuesday at the historic Quinn AME Chapel, members of the Concerned Clergy for a Better Chicagoland (CCBC) chose incumbent Cook County Board resident Todd H. Stroger as the best candidate in the race.
Stroger is currently running against: Congressman Danny Davis; Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown; and 4th Ward Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, who are all African- American and Terrence O’Brien, president of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, who is White.
The ministers said they did not want to “repeat the history of the past” when they referred to the fragmented vote of the Black community in 1989 between interim Mayor Eugene Sawyer and then 4th Ward Ald. Tim Evans, now Cook County Judge who ran against then Cook County State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley. Sawyer and Evans, both Black, were defeated by Daley, a White candidate, who has been mayor ever since.
“We believe through Todd Stroger’s candidacy, it’s an opportunity to keep the Democratic Party united and we’re asking them not to blow this opportunity by coming out against what we consider our political interests,” stated Bro. Leonard Muhammad, who is a CCBC executive committee member and an adviser to Nation of Islam Min. Louis Farrakhan.
Since Stroger took office in 2006, he has managed to balance three budgets; increase minority contract participation from 25 to 35 percent; and he has kept the county health care system open. Stroger, with the support of Cook County Commissioner John Daley, passed a one penny on a dollar increase in Cook County’s portion of the State of Illinois sales tax increase. This move raised Cook County’s portion of the tax to 1.7%. However, the county’s portion is lower than the various municipal and state portions of the state sales tax. Moreover, supporters have pointed out that Stroger has been unfairly tagged with owning the state sales tax. They contend that the sales tax provided the necessary additional revenue which saved the Cook County Healthcare system from collapsing.
Stroger contends that he has “kept the County in the black,” while the city of Chicago and State of Illinois, have their own fiscal woes. He added that while he has been fiscally responsible, Chicago has shut down its government, laid off countless workers and demanded numerous furlough days and still has a $500 million dollar deficit. He also pointed
to the State of Illinois, which has a $7 billion dollar deficit.
Stroger was grateful for the ministers’ support because it “shows the good work that he’s done” in office,” he said.
“I know my record and I knew when I showed it to [the ministers], I knew that they would be behind me,” he stated. “As a young man, if you work hard and do the right things, people will notice and get behind you.”
Three CCBC executive committee members and several community activists, business, religious, and political leaders recently met at the home of Atty. Jim Montgomery to discuss the current climate of Black politics in Cook County. During that meeting, they thought it would be wise to endorse one candidate for Cook County Board president. President Stroger received 19 out of 24 votes from this coalition of leaders.
Last month, the CCBC Executive Committee met without the candidates at Quinn Chapel AME Church. The 90 executive committee members in that meeting, representing congregations countywide, endorsed Stroger—-with 87 votes while 3 clergymen abstained from the vote. The CCBC members endorsed Stroger’s three Black opponents for the offices
they currently serve.
Fellow CCBC members previously met in August with all four candidates separately in Posen, IL where they presented their current platforms for the Office of Cook County Board
Black Nobel Peace Prize Winners
by Lesley R. Chinn
President Barack Obama may not have struck gold with the International Olympics Committee in Copenhagen to help Chicago bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics, but he struck gold when the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded him this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
After nine months into his first term, Obama received the honor from the Nobel Committee for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
Moreover, the Committee cited Obama’s efforts to create a “new climate in international politics,” and attached special importance to the President’s vision and his work for a “world without nuclear weapons.”
Obama is the first Black president to win the honor. He also joins the ranks of President Theodore Roosevelt who won the Prize in 1906 and President Woodrow Wilson, who won in 1919. The President also joins a long list of Black Nobel Peace Prize winners who include: former United Nations mediator Ralph Bunche who won in 1950, African National Congress president Albert John Lutuli who won in 1960; Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1964, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu who won the prize in 198; South African leader Nelson
Mandela who won in 1993; Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General won in 2001, and Kenyan environmentalist and political activist Wangari Maathai in 2004.
News of winning the Nobel Peace Prize surprised Obama, who said he was to join the ranks of past recipients, but also used the opportunity to call for action towards improving world peace.
“This award must be shared with everyone who strives for justice and dignity – for the young woman who marches silently in the streets on behalf of her right to be heard even in the face of beatings and bullets; for the leader imprisoned in her own home because she refuses to abandon her commitment to democracy; for the soldier who sacrificed through tour after tour of duty on behalf of someone half a world away; and for all those men and women across the world who sacrifice their safety and their freedom and sometimes their lives for the cause of peace.”
Archbishop Tutu described Obama’s honor in an AP report as, “an award that speaks to the promise of President Obama’s message of hope,” while U.S. Senator Roland Burris said in a written statement that, “Throughout the course of his presidency, President Obama has struck a new tone of cooperation with the international community and has improved
America’s role throughout the world.” Gov. Pat Quinn added that, “The Prize demonstrates President Barack Obama’s message of peace and hope is being heard throughout the world.”
While President Obama is focused on a health care reform bill that “ensures choice and competition,” the President has stopped short of saying whether overhauling the nation’s healthcare system would include a so called public plan. However, reports indicate that the administration is involved in talks with Democratic lawmakers to push for passage of a public option.
On tomorrow, the Senate Finance Committee will vote on its sweeping health care reform bill while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will work to merge two Senate bills together. One bill was created in July by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and includes two fundamental provisions that the finance committee legislation does not.
Presumably, the finance committee legislation will include a government run insurance plan that Reid and other liberal Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have backed. However, the question over whether he will push for a government-run insurance plan in the final legislation remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the Senate committee is waiting on a report on cost projections from the Congressional Budget Office before it votes on the legislation and last week voted to strike two amendments that would establish a so-called public option to compete with private insurance coverage, according to reports.
During the debate on health reform, the public option has been positively posited as a means of keeping private insurers honest, thus ensuring fair and affordable prices for all Americans. On the other hand, opponents claim a public option would not allow for fair competition, putting private insurers out of business and ensuring a government takeover. But with all the talk about a public option, National Opinion Research Center (NORC) Senior Fellow Jon Gabel said, “it’s unfortunate that the public option has gained so much attention since the percentage [of the population] that could enroll in the public plan is only 5%.”
The uproar for and against the public plan is undermining what really matters and that’s changing the market, Gabel pointed out. Questions raised by the public option include, “Who will administer the public plan. If it is like Medicare, then private insurance companies will…even the public option will have a blend of the public and private,” he said.
“It hits a raw, ideological nerve on the left and the right, [but]…it’s a secondary issue rather than a primary [one],” Gabel maintains. The public option would be “most useful, as an alternative, in those states where there are one or two insurers…dominat[ing] the market,” he continued. “The most important objective of this legislation is to control [healthcare] costs,” Gabel said, which according to the latest data, are constantly going up. For example, family health premiums rose 5% over the past year to an annual cost of $13,375, according to the Employer Health Benefit 2009 Annual Survey. The survey results, released by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and the Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) also revealed a more than 131% increase in premiums since 1999. Since 1998, most Americans have felt and continue to feel that the government is not spending enough money on health care, said Tom W. Smith, Director of the General Social Survey (GSS).
“People come out and say it [reform] will cost $1 trillion…,” Smith said. “[It’s] the sheer enormity of the number that’s…scaring some people away.” Congress needs to get the “interim plans” down to “the plan with six to eight points people can grasp,” he continued. “Now, there is just too much uncertainty.”
by Lesley R. Chinn
Chicago Teachers Union president Marilyn Stewart said disruptive children prevent students from learning and prevent teachers from teaching in the classrooms.
Addressing civic and business leaders at a City Club of Chicago gathering downtown last week Stewart asked, “Would a judge allow anyone in his or her courtroom to be disruptive? Why then should a teacher be forced to have students remain in the classroom if they are constantly disobeying the rules and making teaching and learning nearly impossible?”
Stewart spoke at the City Club to announce a proposal for an alternative school for chronically disruptive students. The proposed alternative school would serve students in grades sixth through eighth and take disruptive students out of the classroom. Under Stewart’s proposal, chronically disruptive students would receive immediate placement in the alternative school, which would offer students the kind of intervention and support they need. This school would provide comprehensive direct behavioral intervention daily by specially trained teachers, counselors, and behavioral specialists.
Currently, Stewart said it takes anywhere from 90 school days to six months to remove a disruptive student out of the classroom. “Students are acting out because of social and emotional reasons at home or outside the classroom. But no matter what the reasons are, they are preventing teachers and other students from learning. Furthermore, they are not getting educated themselves,” stated Stewart, a 30-year classroom veteran. “These children need separate placements so they can learn to manage their behavior and get the education they need and deserve.”
Stewart described the classroom disruptions ranging from physical and verbal assaults against teachers to throwing objects and furniture. She said these everyday classroom disruptions are a far more prevalent problem as the “life-threatening incidents involving weapons, drugs, and other contrabands” often portrayed in the media. She also made a clear distinction between chronically disruptive students and the “guntoting individuals” who are committing crimes around Chicago Public Schools.
Once the team of specialists sees an improvement in a student’s behavior, the student would be returned back into a regular school setting the following year, under Stewart’s proposal.
The Chicago Public Schools, Stewart said, currently has some alternative schools and programs. However, they target students who are dropouts, delinquents, and those who have diagnosed behavior disorders. If Stewart’s proposal is approved by the district, a pilot program could begin as soon as next year with a few hundred students. If the school is successful, similar schools could be constructed citywide.
by Lesley R. Chinn
Four cities and only one got the Gold and it wasn’t Chicago. Rio de Janeiro won the bid over Chicago, which surprisingly got eliminated in the first round by the International Olympics Committee to compete for the 2016 Olympic Games. Tokyo was eliminated in the second round. Rio beat surprise finalist Madrid in the final voting round.
Rio played heavily on the fact that South America has never hosted the Olympic Games, while Europe, Asia, and North America have done so repeatedly. Now, only Africa and Antarctica are the only continents which have not hosted the Olympics.
The presence of President Barack Obama, first Lady Michelle Obama, and Mayor Richard M. Daley along with a long list of celebrities including Oprah Winfrey wasn’t enough to help win over members of the International Olympic Committee members.
Within the last few days, many IOC members were charmed by First Lady Obama, but when IOC president Jacques Rogge announced the results of the first vote, Chicago’s name was announced.
While many gathered at Daley Plaza to await the results, some Chatham residents watched the results from home. As an avid Olympics fan, Sandra Hearn hoped to see the Games in person if Chicago won its bid. “I’m just shocked that Chicago was eliminated so quickly in the first round of voting. I thought Chicago had an excellent chance of getting the Games particularly after presentations were made by the [President and First Lady Obama],” Hearn stated. “Having the Olympics would have meant so much for the city in terms of economics, jobs, and beautification of the city especially on the Southside, but now [Chicago] has to concentrate on being a world class city with a failed Olympic bid,” she said.
After a reported $70 million raised toward the Olympic Games, Sandra’s husband, Bob, said he doesn’t see any future bidding opportunities for Chicago. Recognizing the city has a lot to offer, Hearn said Chicago “now has to find out why they got eliminated so quickly in the first round.”
If Chicago had been chosen, the games would have been held from July 22 to August 7, 2016 with the Paralympics held between August 12 and August 28. The bid plan highlighted the use of venues such as Washington Park, Soldier Field, and McCormick Place to host the games. The city previously announced a $500 million insurance policy to cover cost overruns and revenue shortfall.
The 2016 Olympics is not the first time Chicago bid for the games. They bid for the Games in 1952, but lost to Helsinki, Finland. Chicago was scheduled to host the 1904 Summer Olympics, but the games were relocated to St. Louis to coincide with the St. Louis World’s Fair.
by Lesley R. Chinn
A group of ex-offenders came in peace recently before a packed audience at St. Dorothy Church to tell residents how to crime proof their homes as well as their neighborhoods during a CAPS crime solutions meeting. The ex-offenders previously served time for burglary, drug possession and sales, and gang activity. They had an open dialogue with residents about how to crime proof their communities, starting with their homes.
The ex-offenders, who came from stable, middle-income families, told the residents how they target homes in communities like Chatham and others that seem like easy targets for break-ins. They said oftentimes residents leave their windows and doors unlocked and curtains opened. The individuals warned residents to keep their windows and doors locked and curtains closed if they want to prevent someone from breaking in their homes. They also said alarms serve as deterrents to crime.
Residents were also warned to be watchful of suspicious activity in the neighborhood and don’t be afraid to call the police if they see it happening. The ex-offenders told the residents that it would be up to them to take back their neighborhoods and part of that involves being more involved in their children or grandchildren’s lives by participating in their schools and knowing who their friends are.
Residents Call For More Solutions
Previously, members of the Greater Chatham Alliance (GCA) reported concerns about suspected drug homes in the neighborhood. At the CAPS crime solutions meeting, the Citizen asked Sixth District Police Commander Eddie Johnson what was being done to address the group’s concerns. Johnson said that the police are aware of several drug homes in the area. “Sometimes it takes a process to completely eradicate the problem. With drug houses, we don’t want to simply put a band-aid on the [problem] and lock up the guy up and then he’s back on the streets. Our goal is to put [offenders] in prison so we can get rid of that problem,” Johnson explained.
GCA members recently provided the Citizen with addresses of suspected drug homes within the Chatham neighborhood as residents pressed for better results in solving crime in the area. However, when Johnson was informed of the suspected drug homes, he said providing addresses is great, but he called for more details that included when the activity occurs; license plate numbers; and descriptions of suspects. “That will go a long way in helping us,” Johnson stated. “If you just simply call [the police] to say that we have a drug home on 79th and King Drive, that’s not enough to help us get to the meat of the problem.”
In response to Johnson’s comments, Carl Lewis, GCA president, said the group has previously given the police detailed information of suspected drug homes and referred to specific addresses in Chatham where the group said they believe drug activity is occurring. He added that he reported those locations to police this past May but claims there haven’t been any results.
Johnson said that it may appear to the residents that the police aren’t providing results, but he said, ‘‘a lot of times we’re working on a covert capacity to knock out these drug homes.” Lewis said that he does not have a problem with police working
undercover to help eradicate the drug problem, but called for more arrests when residents report drug activities.
In addition to calling the police, Commander Johnson said residents can use services provided by the Cook County State’s Attorney Narcotics Nuisance Abatement Unit. The unit is a communitybased drug control strategy which works closely with local police and law enforcement agencies, governmental agencies, community groups, and citizens to identify, investigate, and prosecute drug homes. For more information, call (773) 869-DOPE.
by Lesley R. Chinn
The fatal beating of 16-year-old Derrion Albert brought back memories for a parent who lost her 18-year-old son to gun violence three years ago.
Albert, an honor student at Fenger High School, was buried last Saturday after he was beaten to death recently. Attending Albert’s funeral at the Greater Hebron M.B. Church in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood was not easy for Pamela Montgomery-Bosley, who lost her son, Terrell, who was killed April 4, 2006 at a Far South side church.
“This was my first time going to [a funeral] service since my baby’s death. It was so devastating to see another child laying in the casket,” Montgomery-Bosley said during an interview with the Citizen. Terrell had aspirations of becoming a famous gospel bass guitar player and traveling worldwide. “I protected him and did all I [could] do, but he is still not here. I get tired of people saying, ‘It was time for Terrell to go’…It wasn’t Terrell’s time to go,” she said.
Montgomery-Bosley is seeking justice for her son by issuing notices about a $5,000 reward for anyone with crime tips. “These murderers are still out here on the streets and I want them to be locked up. Just like they devastated my life, they can devastate another individual’s life.” Montgomery-Bosley, who said she felt like “somebody stabbed her in her heart,” said her 16-year-old son suffers from depression while her 11-year-old son prays every night that no one gets shot.
She said her involvement with two organizations such as Purpose Over Pain and Parents of Murdered Children keeps her going. Purpose Over Pain is a parent advocacy group which works for stricter gun control legislation while Parents of Murdered Children is a support group for parents who have lost their children to gun violence. Another Purpose Over Pain member, Willie Williams Jr. lost his son, Willie III, who was killed that same year at a movie theatre near Ford City shopping mall. Willie III’s murderers have not been brought to justice either. However, Willie Jr. copes with his pain through his organization called the Willie Williams III Youth Foundation, founded in his son’s memory. “Anytime you hear about people losing kids over violence, memories of your own child’s death comes to light. When the cameras are gone, the parents are seriously suffering. It’s a lot of families who lost their children and can’t get over it.”
Montgomery-Bosley and Williams agreed that the violence has gotten out-of-control since their children’s deaths and said if the Supreme Court plans to strike down Chicago’s 27- year-old ban on handguns, it would make matters worse.
Parents should, Montgomery-Bosley added, take responsibility for their children and quit making excuses about their bad behavior. “Our ancestors raised nine or 10 kids and they did good. The fathers may not be in the child’s life, but it’s your job to be the mother and the father,” she said.
Atty. General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are expected to arrive this week in Chicago to address the violence, but Montgomery-Bosley said it wouldtake a “block-by-block strategy” to fix the problem while Williams challenged the officials to walk in the neighborhoods to get a better understanding of “what’s happening” to the youth.
Emerald Dukes, 13, and her brother, Morgan, 16, said Albert’s death was too much for them to bear. “It just reminded me of the young people I know that’s just dying, so I understand their pain,” Emerald said. “That could have been me laying in that casket right now. [The gun violence] is just ridiculous…and no one seems to care,” Morgan added.