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October 2012 Archives

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On Tuesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel came down on Northwestern University's side in its battle to raze the old Prentice Women's Hospital, a building that preservationists want to save.

Is that the last chapter in the story?

Some architects hope not. Next month, architectural firms will put their ideas for saving Prentice while meeting Northwestern's needs on display in a "Future Prentice" exhibition organized by the Chicago Architecture Club in partnership with the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

Above is an image from one of the submissions. This one is from Kujawa Architecture LLC of Chicago.

1,000 times when long arm of the law came up short

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For those keeping track, the 5-month old National Registry of Exonerations has posted its 1,000th case.

The registry, run by the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, is trying to provide detailed information about all exonerations since 1969. It's adding new ones at a rate of nearly five per week.

The 1,000th exoneree is Lawrence Williams of Brooklyn, N.Y., who was jailed for two years for assault in a case of mistaken identity. According to the registry, Williams was cleared after an investigation by the Kings County District Attorney's Office proved his innocence.

According to Samuel Gross, editor of the Registry and law professor at the University of Michigan, more prosecutors around the country are creating "conviction integrity units" to prevent and reverse false
convictions, including the district attorneys in Dallas, Manhattan and Santa Clara County, Calif.,
as well as Kings County, N.Y.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez started a conviction integrity unit in February.

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a-meast-72.jpgIn Washington, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) is arguing that the "Arab Spring" has made non-Muslim religious minorities increasingly vulnerable.

But some religious leaders think there's more to the story, at least in Palestinian areas.

"The Christian community is vanishing, and it is not because of Islamic terrorism," the Rev. Dr. Donald E. Wagner, program director of the Friends of Sabeel North America told the Sun-Times Editorial Board last week. "It is because of losing land, of having economic deprivation and just little future for the kids."

Christians historically made up about 18 percent of the Palestinian population, but are now down to 1.1 percent, Wagner said.

The cost of gun violence to taxpayers

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With Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's proposed new gun and ammunition taxes, she is drawing a link between guns and the county's high cost of treating gunshot victims

The National Gun Victims Action Council provided some support for that position this week.

By the council's estimate, taxpayers spent more than $5 billion each year to cover the cost of U.S. gun homicides. Here's the arithmetic: Each gun homicide costs $400,000, times an average of 12,000 gun homicides a year.

Preckwinkle puts the cost to treat each uninsured gunshot victim at Stroger Hospital at $52,000.

Read an Oct. 29 Sun-Times story here.

Read an Oct. 9 Sun-Times editorial here.

Read the National Gun Victims Action Council statement here.

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Preckwinkle tries carrot instead of stick

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a-sheriff.jpgUsually, the political argument we hear is that we need less government.

But in Cook County, it's the opposite. County officials are saying they want less to govern.

Cook County is technically the municipal authority for the many remaining unincorporated pockets dotting the county. Cook County sheriff's police patrol those areas. Cook County also does the building inspections.

But serving small pockets of land that are separated by miles of village or city acreage is inefficient, and the county would like to get out of the business.

New day in court for prisoners convicted through torture?

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A class action petition on behalf of prisoners whose cases rested all or in part on statements obtained through torture was filed Tuesday.

Lawyers from the MacArthur Justice Center and the People's Law Office are asking that a process be set up to get to the bottom of the question of whether any state prison inmates are incarcerated because of confessions or statements obtained through torture under former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge.

Burge and his rogue cops tortured numerous African-American men into making confessions in the 1970s and 1980s.

a-pretince-render.jpg The Save Prentice Coalition on Monday released a rendering of the existing old Prentice Women's Hospital with a 200,000 square-foot tower addition, on top of the 315,000 square-foot existing building.

The rendering was prepared for Landmarks Illinois by Antunovich & Associates, a Chicago architecture firm.

Read an Oct. 16 Sun-Times story here.

Read a July 26 Sun-Times editorial here.

Read an Oct. 17 New York Times story here.

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metra-72.JPGRight now, the word is that Brad S. O'Halloran will be installed as Metra chairman at the Metra board's next meeting, Nov. 16.

Of course, that was the word before last Friday's meeting, too, and O'Halloran fell short, with just seven of 11 votes. Eight are needed.

Had this been an old-fashioned political party convention, the voting might have kept on going until someone got that eighth vote. Think of the 1924 Democratic National Convention, with 103 ballots. Or the 1880 Republican National Convention, with 35 ballots. But the Metra board just voted once, then called it a day and went home.

CEO Brizard's statement on his departure

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The following is a statement released by Chicago Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard early Friday morning after news of his resignation broke:

In my 26 year career in education, I have had many different roles with one commitment - the success of students.

As an educator, I knew for students to be successful here in Chicago we needed to refocus the District to work on the fundamentals of teaching and learning, developing a new framework for teaching. Some have called it a masterpiece. The credit belongs to my hard-working team including many teachers and principals who contributed to the work.

As the district leader, I am proud of the results we achieved in such a short time: graduation rates are up, test scores are improving, a higher percentage of freshman are on track for graduation, we achieved the lowest one-year drop-out rate in the city's history and we have seen tremendous growth on the ACT - an important college readiness benchmark.

As I move on to the next chapter of my career, my commitment to the success of students and the elimination of inequities within our educational system remains the same.

I have three young children. It is time to focus on their development. We all know the best gift that you can give to a child is time.

I leave this role with great sadness, but with the knowledge that the seeds for true innovation and transformation have been planted. They only need to be cultivated.

RTA deal means transit won't grind to halt in Chicago

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a-gates-72.JPGOfficials at the Regional Transportation Authority were warning in recent days that Chicago area mass transit systems were at risk of grinding to a halt early next year.

But that scenario was sent to the back of the bus Wednesday morning when the RTA board unanimously ended a standoff over the allocation of the RTA's so-called discretionary funds.

RTA Executive Director Joseph Costello said be believes the agreement will give the "service boards" - the CTA, Metra and Pace - sufficient time to draw up their own budgets so the the RTA can sign off by the deadline of Dec. 31.

"This puts us on a reasonable track to get our budgets resolved," Costello said.


Mahmoud Saeed-72.jpgWhen translator Sam Allen Salter met Iraqi author Mahmoud Saeed, Saeed was driving a delivery truck for a living.

Saeed, who has written more than 20 novels and story collections dating back to 1963 when he lived in Iraq, is author of the well-regarded novel The World Through the Eyes of Angels, which Salter helped to translate from Arabic into English. (Saeed came to the United States in 1999.)

Addressing a meeting of the Society of Midland Authors Tuesday evening at the Cliff Dwellers club in Chicago, Saeed said he drove a truck and washed dishes in America "to get some money to live and write."

In Iraq, Saeed was sent to prison six times and his books were banned for years. But that wasn't the only reason he left Iraq, going first to Dubai and then to the United States, he said. (He now lives in Chicago and teaches at DePaul University.)

RTA plans way to offer best routes to riders

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a-rta-72.jpgThe Regional Transportation Authority thinks it will get many more riders if it simply tells people how to get from Point A to Point B in real time.

Right now, the CTA, Metra and Pace each keep riders posted on their own transit systems. The RTA has a similar service called Goroo. But no one offers a real-time information service that tells riders how to get around the metropolitan area using all of the available services.

a-dam.jpgVeteran boaters on the Des Plaines River lately have been reporting seeing something they've never seen in decades of paddling up and down the river.

The bottom.

On the northern stretch of the river the water has been clear. You can see fish swimming along, sunken logs, rocks and, of course, the requisite number of old tires.

Why? Stream specialist Steve Pescitelli of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources gives a few reasons:

Forest preserve files its land acquisition plan

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The Cook County Forest Preserve District filed its 2012 land acquisition plan with the Board of Commissioners today.

The district raised $25 million through bonds earlier this summer so it could go shopping for land to fill the gaps in its greenway and trail system, protect high-quality natural areas and habitats and expand opportunities for outdoor education and recreation.

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NU lays out its case for old Prentice Hospital site

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a-prentice.jpgNorthwestern University released new details today about its plans for a biomedical research facility on the site of the former Prentice Women's Hospital, which preservationists are trying to save.

In its report, titled Finding Tomorrow's Cures, Northwestern says the facility cannot be built on other nearby sites suggested by the Save Prentice Coalition.

The report calls the Prentice site "the linchpin for the combined plans of Northwestern University, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago."

Maybe America ain't ready for campaign finance reform

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a-merriner-72.jpgJames L. Merriner, one of Chicago's reigning experts on political corruption, told a Sept. 28 gathering at the city's Union League Club that it might be might be time to rethink campaign finance reform.

The first federal election campaign act was passed in 1971, and it was followed by many, many iterations at the state and local level.

"So we have a 40-year record of testing the effects of limits on campaign funding, and they have failed," Merriner says.

About this Archive

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

September 2012 is the previous archive.

November 2012 is the next archive.

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