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August 2012 Archives

Signs of what unions are doing for Labor Day

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A-LABOR-72.jpgIf you wonder why you are suddenly seeing window or lawn signs saying "Proud Union Home," particularly on the Northwest and Southwest sides, here's the answer:

The signs came from the Chicago Federation of Labor, which mailed out 170,000 self-adhesive window signs to union members in Cook County. The federation is distributing 15,000 lawn signs as well.

The federation always does something around Labor Day to promote labor issues and awareness, said spokesman Nick Kaleba, and this year union officials thought they'd try the signs as part of a "labor solidarity campaign."

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Darrell Williams case highlights need for Illinois reform

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a-72.jpgIs it time to give Illinois better rules governing how police use photos to help victims identify crime suspects?

The importance of photo identifications has been underscored by the case of an Oklahoma State basketball player, Darrell Williams, who was convicted last month of sexual battery and two counts of rape by instrumentation. Supporters say he is a victim of misidentification. The judge has delayed sentencing so he can consider a defense motion claiming new evidence had been found.

In this case, police showed the victims a photo of the basketball team to see if the victims could identify the suspect. That's not a recommended procedure (although the procedure wasn't as significant as in some cases because one of the women the police interviewed already knew Williams' identity from seeing him play basketball).

Has a Green Giant taken root in Springfield?

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quinn plastic bags.JPGAs battles rage in Springfield over the future of pensions, some environmentalists are quietly wondering if it's time to pin a green medal on Gov. Pat Quinn's lapel.

From an environmentalist's point of view, this has been a great summer for Quinn (pictured at right with bags of more than 150,000 signatures from 12-year-old Abby Goldberg, who organized a petition urging him to veto an industry-backed plastic bags recycling bill).

"He's been 100 percent," said Max Muller, program director of Environment Illinois.

Call it the environmentalists' summer of content.

Why?

- Quinn vetoed the proposed Leucadia Southeast Side coal gasification plant, which environmental groups opposed because of greenhouse gas emissions.

- He vetoed an industry-backed bill on plastic bag recycling that environmentalists didn't think was strong enough.

a-lameduck.jpgOne legislator likens the return of lame-duck legislators to Springfield for the fall veto session to Russian roulette: You can expect the unexpected.

This fall, at least 15 of 59 senators and 21 of 118 representatives will be lame ducks.

"You don't know what's going to happen" when it's time for those lame ducks to vote, the lawmaker said. If someone offers them a job or if they decide they are free to vote a different way, they might execute a 180-degree turn on one or more issues.

Israeli consul in Chicago is off to a running start

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a-gilad-72.JPGRoey Gilad, israel's new consul general to the Midwest, thought he was finished running marathons.

But that was before he was posted to Chicago, where he arrived about two weeks ago. It's his fourth overseas mission, although he's always worked out of embassies before, rather than a consulate. His assignment includes 11 Midwest states.

Outside of his regular work, "My interest is long-distance running," he says. And over the years, Gilad has run eight marathons as well as many shorter races.

He thought he'd hung up his spikes, at least for the marathons. But here he is in a city that has "one of the five big marathons."

So, as he might say about one of the many diplomatic issues he deals with: "There has been a shift in the agenda."

Don't look for him this year out on Columbus Drive when Oct. 7 rolls around.

But next year, he expects to be there, for one more marathon.

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Does Mike Madigan's power rival Richard J. Daley's?

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a-Daley-72.jpgAfter last week's special legislative session fizzled in Springfield, some people were comparing House Speaker Mike Madigan's grip on the General Assembly to the power wielded years ago by Richard J. Daley.

Downstate author and former political reporter Taylor Pensoneau calls Madigan "the foremost political strongman in Springfield for years."

However, Pensoneau says, no one compares to the first Mayor Daley in "wielding complete control over everything political in his purview."

Aaron Jaffe - as chairman of the Illinois Gaming Board - deals with the Legislature now, and he sat in the General Assembly when the first Daley was at the height of his power.

His take on Daley: "Daley controlled everything. He controlled the Chicago City Council. He controlled the Chicago delegation in the Legislature."

Fort Dearborn - battle or massacre?

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Today being the 200th anniversary of what has been described both as the Fort Dearborn Massacre and the Battle of Fort Dearborn, here's what historian Ann Durkin Keating says in the epilogue of her new book, officially out today, titled Rising Up from Indian Country: The Battle of Fort Dearborn and the Birth of Chicago (University of Chicago Press).

"This discussion over historical revisionism and the use of the word 'massacre' goes to the heart of what history is (or is not). History is not simply a record of everything that has happened in the past. There is no such record, and even if there was, historians could never access it all. No one will ever know everything about Chicago on August 12, 1812. We can only know what can be assembled from available accounts, but we continue to uncover more documentation and glean additional information from the available historical record. Our understanding of the past and its intricacies is ever evolving."


Emanuel sold out for Farrakhan?

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Here are the charges, as laid out by one Betsy Woodruff, a writer for the conservative National Review:

• Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pretty much sold his soul by welcoming the support of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam in trying to quell street violence in Chicago's poorest neighborhoods. Emanuel is Jewish, after all, having even as a young man volunteered to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces. And Farrakhan is a well-established anti-Semite.

• Weird as this is, it's not weird by Chicago standards. Hell, politicians in this town have taken up with strange bedfellows since at least the days of Al Capone, when a former state legislator was his defense attorney. Just look at all the aldermen who have played footsie with gangs.

• Emanuel may have no choice but to enlist Farrakhan's support since "corruption within the Chicago government and police department sometimes results in certain neighborhoods going unpatrolled."

Huh?

What do you think? Anything to it? Read the whole essay.

But a quick note on the second and third points above: Is there a big city in America where some politicians didn't work with the beer runners during Prohibition? And who says corruption leads to "certain neighborhoods" going unpatrolled? There's a charge that needs a serious footnote.

Why the election worries Springfield's old hands

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a-capitol-72.jpgBy some calculations, more than half the legislators in Springfield will be new or relatively new when the new General Assembly is seated after the November elections.

Because incumbents aren't on the ballot in many districts, we are guaranteed 18 new state senators (although five of them are state representatives running for higher office). In the House, a minimum of 39 new faces will show up. Upsets could increase that number.

The Senate has 59 districts, and the House has 118.

This probably is fine with voters whose priority is to throw the bums out in every election cycle. But the people who push various issues session after session in Springfield want legislators who understand complicated issues such as restructuring pensions, a capital program or education funding.

a-privacy-72.jpgPrivacy has been on the losing end of many battles lately, but did score a victory today.

As a Sun-Times editorial pointed out back in April, employers around the country have begun asking applicants to turn over personal logins to social media sites so the employer can take a peek at those party photos you thought you'd be sharing only with friends. Or they ask an applicant to "friend" the employer on Facebook, which opens a door in the privacy wall as well.

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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