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April 2010 Archives

Rahm as future mayor? On the Web, he already is

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Rahm Emanuel was quoted this week as saying he would like to run for Chicago mayor one day.

And former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was taped at one point saying Jesse Jackson Jr. "wants [the job of Illinois senator] badly and desperately."

Well, Emanuel and Jackson don't have to wait to see themselves in those offices if they try out an experimental search tool called Google Squared. While building a table of Chicago mayors, Google Squared includes Emanuel. It does the same for Jackson in its table of Illinois senators.

Old name for any new canid pups at Brookfield Zoo

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There's movement afoot to change the name of African wild dogs to "painted dogs," but don't expect to see that change at Brookfield Zoo anytime soon.

The ornately colored animals have rapidly dwindled on their native continent as humans encroach on their savanna habitat. As "wild dogs," the creatures didn't get much empathy from humans, so Greg Rasmussen, who heads Painted Dog Conservation, decided he would try to re-brand them as "painted dogs," a name that some people already were using.

But Bill Zeigler, vice president of animal care for the Chicago Zoological Society, said the zoo will follow the terminology recognized by the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which regulates animals moving in and out of the country. The zoo tries to use common names that all federal agencies and state governments recognize, he said.

Ballad of the Tea Party -- get your lyrics here

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Every grassroots movement needs an up-against-the-man folk ballad, even the Tea Party movement, though Pete Seeger might disagree. Pete's politics lean elsewhere.

At Thursday's Tax Day rally in Chicago's Daley Plaza, Joel Pollak, the GOP candidate for congress in the 9th district, offered a pretty good Tea Party anthem. It's no "We Shall Overcome," but it might catch on.

The lyrics were hard to make out, so we offer them to you here:

Ballad of the Tea Party

On a cold night in Boston, three ships in the dock
With their valuable cargo still waiting to stock
But the colonists won't pay the duty on tea
And the governor won't let the ships out to sea

Sing - hey, hey, what do we say?
American freedom is here to stay!
Hey, hey, what do we say?
Dont tax our freedom away!

Now the Crown has been adding new fees by the score
And the people don't think they can bear any more
Yet they don't have a vote, so they don't have a say
And they're starting to talk about breaking away


Now the people have gathered round the Old Meeting House
If the governor listens, they'll still hear him out
But Sam Adams, he reads the report with a frown
So the people decide that the tea must go down


So they don their disguises and clamber aboard
And the governor's tea is soon tossed overboard
And the news spreads throughout the thirteen colonies
That our country's new motto is Don't Tread On Me.


Now today we have gathered -- young, old, black, and white
And we've all got the vote, so we don't need to fight
But if Washington taxes our future away
Then we'll throw them all out on Election Day!

Clouds have parted for poetry in Chicago

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Poetry, like Carl Sandburg's fog, has been coming on little cat feet into Chicago - but to stay, not to move on.

Just one example: On Tuesday night at the Cliff Dwellers Club on South Michigan Avenue across from the Art Institute of Chicago, three students from Joliet West High School performed a work titled "Undecided" - not just for the usual assemblage of writers and book lovers but also for an enthusiastic crowd of other Joliet West students who made the trek to the Loop for a poetry reading and the Cliff Dwellers' famous view over Grant Park. (For one student, it was her first trip to Chicago.)

The student poets were recreating their performance as a youth slam team in the 10-year-old "Louder than a Bomb" competition. Just as Chicago is home to the poetry slam, which has become a worldwide phenomenon, the city also is home to Louder than a Bomb, now the world's largest youth slam.

Golfers don't get our sympathy

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It's hard to muster a lot of sympathy for Chicago Park District golfers slammed with a 5 percent fee increase -- when the fee only went up to $25 for nine holes of golf.

Compared to a private golf course, that's still a steal.

But the Chicagoans who sounded off about park district fee increases in a Sun-Times article by Lisa Donovan on Tuesday are on to something.

Faced with a $23 million deficit, the park district this year raised fees by an average of 3 to 5 percent on all programs, including fitness centers, pools and summer camp, one of the few summer choices meant to be affordable to even the poorest among us.

This on top of a decision last year to begin charging for lakefront parking for the first time.

The Park District had no good options -- it's either raise fees or cut programs wholesale.

But we worry about cutting out Chicago's poorest.

The lake front, summer camps, a dip in the pool should be open to every Chicagoan.

An extra dollar here and there may be all it takes to keep them away.

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Fed prison: One place Chicago doesn't get five stars

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Chicago rates highly in many categories, but not apparently as an accommodation for federal prisoners.

At least that's what Piper Kerman writes in Orange Is the New Black, her recently published account of spending 13 months in federal prisons for drug-related misdeeds she'd committed shortly after leaving college.

Kerman spent most of her sentence at a prison in Danbury, Conn., but toward the end of her term she was transferred to Chicago to testify in a drug case. She refers to the Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center as "a tall, triangular fortress on a city block in the crowded Chicago Loop" with "a filthy, decrepit and disorganized R&D."

As she sat down with two other inmates, she writes, they, too "were staggered by how awful the Chicago MCC was; we agreed that it was hard to believe it was a federal facility. ... The misery of the women surrounding me rattled me, as did the pointlessness of every day that passed here, and the complete disrespect and indifference with which we were treated."

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It goes against conventional wisdom, but the amount of time parents are spending with their children has risen dramatically since the 1990s, the New York Times is reporting.

A study by researchers from the University of California, San Diego, found that college-educated women, on average, spent 21.2 hours a week attending to the needs of their children in 2007, compared to about 12 hours a week before 1995. Parenting time for college-educated fathers also more than doubled during that period.

Chicago reaches 79th year of Democratic rule

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Chicago has been run by Democrats since the 38th mayor, Anton Cermak, was sworn in 79 years ago.

Cermak beat Chicago's last Republican mayor, Big Bill Thompson, by 191,916 votes on April 7, 1931. In Chicago: A Biography, Dominic A. Pacyga writes "Cermak took office within 48 hours and got to work."

Mr. Quigley goes to Washington

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Mike Quigley, the Chicago congressman who won Rahm Emanuel's old seat in a special election, today celebrated his first year in office as the representative of Illinois' Fifth District.

Seniority plays a big role on the Hill, and already Quigley has moved up 10 spots to No. 425 because of various resignations. Not that he's counting.

Looking back a year, Quigley says it was something of a culture shock to be sworn in and suddenly find himself voting on legislation he hadn't had time to read up on.

Chicago is known for a lot of things: stunning architecture, deep-dish pizza and political corruption of just about every variety.

Apparently, we can also lay claim to being the "most watched city in America," thanks to the abundance of video surveillance provided by public and private security cameras linked to the city's 911 center.

"I don't think there is another city in the U.S. that has as an extensive and integrated camera network as Chicago has," former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff told the Associated Press.

City officials won't say exactly how many cameras there are, but it's believed to be more than 10,000.

And today, the city's newly appointed emergency management chief, Jose Santiago, announced a push to get even more private sector businesses to connect their surveillance cameras to the 911 network.

Thinking about all of those cameras on the streets of Chicago left me with mixed feelings.

There's no question that video surveillance can play a big role in solving crimes and sorting out the cause of an accident or emergency.

But who's watching the people watching us to make sure they aren't abusing their access to those cameras?

The majority of Chicagoans, though, seem to be OK with the growing camera network, since police say they only hear about the cameras when people want one installed in their neighborhood or worry one will be removed.

Mayor Richard Daley "could put 10,000 more cameras up and nobody would say anything," Paul Green, a Roosevelt University political science professor, told the AP.

I'm not sure what it says about us that we get more outraged about parking meter fees than the quiet erosion of our privacy.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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