In Chicago And Iowa, Contrasting Tales Of Building A Clean Energy Economy

Michelle Kemeer

By Yana Kunichoff for Midwest Energy News – As former industrial communities seek to rebuild their economies around clean energy, two cities in the Midwest provide examples with starkly different outcomes. Chicago’s Southeast Side and Newton, Iowa both used to house thriving industries, keeping residents with a solid toe in the middle class through well-paid and steady factory work. In Chicago it was steel, while Newton boomed under the all-encompassing attentions of the Maytag family and their washing machine factories. Thirty years later, those core industries have left both areas and a handful of different businesses have taken their place. In Newton, the Maytag sites have been reborn to manufacture wind turbine bodies and blades. But in Chicago, the jutting land formerly housing U.S. Steel remains empty. While urban Chicago and rural Iowa are different in obvious ways, experts say there are still common factors that influence how a green economic development transition takes place. Greg Carlock, a climate researcher with the World Resources Institute, says that sustainable development is a wide-ranging and complicated process, but he has seen some essentials emerge.

Journalists Sue Chicago Police Over Hidden Records Of SWAT Responses To Mental Health Crises

From loevy.com

By Andy Thayer for Loevy and Loevy – CHICAGO – Independent journalist Sarah Lazare and community activist Debbie Southorn sued the Chicago Police Department today demanding release of records about Chicago SWAT deployments responding to mental health crises. A copy of the suit can be found here. These records are of particular public importance because all of Chicago’s mental health clinics have been closed or privatized in recent years, and SWAT teams are used to respond to mental health incidents. As Lazare and Southorn note in an article published yesterday at The Intercept, “Since 2013, Chicago police have deployed SWAT teams at least 38 times to respond to mental health incidents and suicide attempts,” as revealed by records produced in response to a previous FOIA request. * Laquan McDonald, killed by police officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014. McDonald had been “diagnosed with complex mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder” noted the Chicago Tribune, and had been hospitalized in psychiatric hospitals three times by the time he was 13.

Chicagoans Say ‘Yes In My Backyard’ To Affordable Housing

Members of NAHJP joined allies from the Catholic Worker and Su Casa for a “housewarming party” in May. (Twitter/@affordableJP)

By Derek Robertson for Waging Nonviolence – Andrea Mitchell knows a dog whistle when she hears one. In the ongoing struggle against housing segregation, they come in the form of chants of “No Section 8.” The fear of a voucher holder’s “miscreant cousin, nephew, brother, son” doing damage in the community. Calls for the children of low-income housing applicants to be screened for criminal records, to rapt applause. For Mitchell, a homeowner in the almost-suburban, majority-white Jefferson Park neighborhood in Chicago, those dog whistles were heard in early February at a neighborhood meeting regarding the proposed construction of a low-income housing development at 5150 N. Northwest Highway, and she decided she had to do something about it. “I just didn’t want the rest of the city to see that and think that’s what my neighborhood is like,” Mitchell said. “I thought to myself, there should be another voice — we’re homeowners, too.” Mitchell and a small group of like-minded residents launched the Neighbors for Affordable Housing in Jefferson Park, or NAHJP, Facebook page in support of the development on Valentine’s Day, just four days after the heated meeting. Leah Levinger, director of the Chicago Housing Initiative, or CHI, a coalition of low-income housing activists, reached out soon after, and within just a month a new activist group was born.

Chicago Judge Rules Defendants Can’t Be Jailed Just Because They Can’t Afford Bail

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By Staff of Reuters – CHICAGO (Reuters) – Defendants who are not considered dangerous will no longer have to stay in jail if they cannot afford to pay bail while awaiting trial in the Illinois county that includes Chicago, a circuit court judge ordered on Monday. Before an initial bail hearing, information will be provided by the defendant in Cook County regarding his or her ability – within 48 hours – to pay bail, the order said. If the defendant cannot pay, he or she will not be held before trial. “Defendants should not be sitting in jail awaiting trial simply because they lack the financial resources to secure their release,” Timothy Evans, chief judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, which includes Chicago, said in a statement. “If they are not deemed a danger to any person or the public, my order states that they will receive a bail they can afford,” the judge said. The order goes into effect on Sept. 18 for felony cases and on Jan. 1, 2018, for misdemeanor cases in the circuit court. Defendants who are deemed dangerous, however, will be held in jail without bond, according to the court’s statement. Judges can also release defendants on individual recognizance or electronic monitoring, which do not require the defendant to pay money to be released, it said.

Deadly Three Minutes: Web Of Police Violence That Killed Charleena Lyles

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By Andrea Ritchie for Rewire – Bias against Black mothers, perceptions of people in mental health crisis, and policing of poverty may have all played a role in the fatal shooting of the 30-year-old pregnant Seattle woman. In the midst of a weekend of nationwide protests demanding accountability for the police shooting of Philando Castile in front of his partner and her child, two Seattle police officers responded Sunday to a call for help from Charleena Lyles, a 30-year-old Black mother of four. She was reporting a burglary. What happened next weaves together several strands of a deadly web of police violence against Black women—including police perceptions of Black mothers and Black women in mental health crisis, police responses to domestic violence, and policing of poverty. Once the officers arrived at the apartment complex where she lived, Lyles can be heard on audio recorded by the officers’ dashboard camera. She let the officers into her apartment building and calmly and rationally answered their questions. She said that someone broke into her house while she was at the store, told the officers that she had no idea who it was, and described what was taken. The sounds of children are audible in the background. Suddenly, the officers begin shouting, “Get back! Get back!” One officer calmly suggests using a Taser…

3 Chicago Cops Charged With Obstruction For Falsely Justifying Teen’s Death

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By Andrew Emett for Nation of Change – Three Chicago police officers have been indicted on state charges of conspiracy, obstruction, and misconduct for allegedly writing false reports in order to justify the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. A fourth officer was charged with murder in November 2015 after police dash cam footage revealed him shooting the teen 16 times as McDonald appeared to be walking away. Nearly surrounded by officers and suspected of breaking into cars on October 20, 2014, McDonald was attempting to walk away from a group of Chicago cops when Officer Jason Van Dyke exited his patrol car. According to initial reports, McDonald was armed with a knife and lunged at Officer Van Dyke. Fearing for his life and the lives of his fellow officers, Van Dyke shot the teen in the chest out of self-defense. But according to witness statements and police dash cam video, McDonald had been walking away when Van Dyke took a step towards the teen before opening fire. After McDonald collapsed to the ground in a fetal position, Van Dyke continued firing his weapon until emptying his clip. As Van Dyke began reloading his gun, a fellow officer ordered him to cease firing at the dying teen.

A Case For Reparations At The University Of Chicago

U-Chicago-quad

By Guest Poster for Black Perspectives – Julia Leakes yearned to be reunited with her family. In 1853, her two sisters showed up for sale along with her thirteen nieces and nephews in Lawrence County, Mississippi. Julia used all the political capital an enslaved woman could muster to negotiate the sale of her loved ones to her owner, Stephen A. Douglas. Douglas’s semi-literate white plantation manager told him “[y]our negros begs for you to b[u]y them.” Despite assurances that this would “be a good arrangement,” Douglas refused to shuffle any of his 140+ slaves to reunite this separated slave family. Instead, Julia’s siblings, nieces, and nephews were put on the auction block where they vanished from the historical record.1 Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse for Julia. By 1859, she had a 1 in 3 chance of being worked to death under Douglas’s new overseer in Washington County, Mississippi. Douglas’s mistreatment of his slaves became notorious. According to one report, slaves on the Douglas plantation were kept “not half fed and clothed.”2 In another, Dr. Dan Brainard from Rush Medical College stated that Douglas’s slaves were subjected to “inhuman and disgraceful treatment” deemed so abhorrent that even other slaveholders in Mississippi branded Douglas “a disgrace to all slave-holders and the system that they support.”3

Lawsuit, Citing ‘Thin Blue Line,’ Seeks Federal Court Oversight Of CPD

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By Jon Seidel, Fran Spielman and Mitch Dudek for Chicago Sun Times – Accusing Mayor Rahm Emanuel of trying to cut a “back-room deal” with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, lawyers for Black Lives Matter Chicago and other community groups filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday seeking federal oversight of the city’s police department. The 132-page complaint immediately blew up the debate over police reform in Chicago. It may force City Hall to the negotiating table after the mayor tried to abandon the idea of a federal monitor. Or, it may lead to a lengthy court battle. Six individuals and seven community groups are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was brought on behalf of people who “have been, or in the future will be, subjected to use of force by the CPD.” It also targets 15 police officers, as well as the city. “CPD officers abide by an ingrained code of silence and ‘warrior mentality’ wholly disconnected from the policies that exist on the books,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers wrote in the complaint. “The ‘thin blue line’ reigns supreme. The city of Chicago has proven time and time again that it is incapable of ending its own regime of terror, brutality and discriminatory policing.”

New Study Finds “More Sweatshops Than Starbucks” In Chicago

The study found that the most common kinds of retaliation were getting fired, having hours cut, or, in the case of temp workers, being placed on a temp agency’s “Do Not Return” list—a form of blacklisting. Employers also retaliated by threatening to call police or immigration authorities, and sometimes even resorted to physical violence. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

By Jeff Schuhrke for In These Times – The report, Challenging the Business of Fear, was prepared by Raise the Floor Alliance, which is a coalition of Chicago worker centers, and the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI). Surveys and interviews were conducted with nearly 300 Chicago-area workers from a variety of low-wage industries, including warehousing, manufacturing, food service and retail. The study finds that among employees who dared to speak up about workplace injustices like unsafe conditions, wage theft, injuries, sexual harassment and discrimination, 58 percent experienced retaliation. Of workers who reported legal violations to regulatory agencies like the Illinois Department of Labor, Department of Human Rights, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, over 80 percent said their employer retaliated against them. Sophia Zaman, executive director of Raise the Floor Alliance, said at a press conference Thursday that retaliation has become “so normalized, it’s basically a way of doing business.” “Three quarters of our participants reported two or more violations of their legal rights in their current job. This is the definition of a sweatshop,” said Brittany Scott, senior research strategist at NESRI.

Oscar López Rivera Returns Home To Chicago – And To A Movement

By Max Herman

By Asraa Mustufa Asraa Mustufa for The Chicago Reporter – Earlier this year, former President Barack Obama commuted the sentence for Oscar López Rivera, who served 35 years in prison for seditious conspiracy and charges related to his work with the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacionala (FALN). The militant Puerto Rican independence group claimed responsibility for a series of bombings beginning in the 1970s that resulted in five deaths. López Rivera’s supporters argue that prosecutors presented no evidence linking him to any FALN act that resulted in casualties. On Thursday, López Rivera returned to his home neighborhood of Humboldt Park. In 1967, after serving in the Vietnam War, he became an organizer in the community, where he led a campaign to create Roberto Clemente High School and open an alternative school for Puerto Rican dropouts. He also co-founded El Rincon health services for drug addicts and helped establish a local office of ASPIRA, which supports the educational and leadership development of Latino youth.

11 Ways Chicago Is The Beating Heart Of The Disastrous Charter School Agenda

By Steven Rosenfeld / AlterNet

By Steven Rosenfeld for AlterNet – Chicago’s public school system has become a showcase for the negative effects of K-12 privatization, according to a new report that tracks how the city replaced struggling local schools with dozens of charters that didn’t perform better, yet deprived traditional schools of funds, students and public accountability. The report, “Closed by Choice: The Spatial Relationship between Charter School Expansion, School Closures and Fiscal Stress in Chicago Public Schools,” tracks 108 charter schools that opened between 2000 and 2015, a period when Chicago Public Schools (CPS) was shutting struggling schools, cutting district funding and reducing staff. It details and confirms what many charter critics have long said, that lobbying from pro-privatization forces swayed the city’ political leaders to impose top-down reforms that riled neighborhoods, undermined traditional K-12 schools, increased segregation and did not lead to schools with better academic results. Perhaps most insidiously, the report describes in great detail how the CPS system aggressively shut down struggling schools in neighborhoods where student numbers were dwindling, while allowing better-funded charters to open up nearby…

Sorry, Charter Boosters: Record Numbers Of Teachers At Chicago Charter Schools Are Organizing Unions

Teachers at the ASPIRA charter school network rally on March 9 during union contract negotiations with management. (Scott Olson / Getty Images)

By Micah Uetright for In These Times – It’s a delicious irony for teachers unions that Rauner College Prep—a Chicago charter school named after Bruce Rauner, Illinois’ virulently anti-union governor—may soon have a union. On March 3, the Chicago Association of Charter Teachers and Staff (ACTS) announced an organizing drive at the Noble Network of Charter Schools, which has 18 campuses across Chicago, including Rauner College Prep. If the campaign is successful, Noble will become the nation’s largest unionized charter network. The addition of Noble’s 800 teachers and staff to its ranks would also give ACTS, a local of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), an impressive density in Chicago’s charter market—the union says it would represent as many as 40 percent of charter teachers in Chicago. About 10 percent of charter teachers nationwide are unionized, according to the pro-charter Center for Education Reform. The Chicago Teachers Union, a sister local to ACTS, has been a bright spot in a bleak labor landscape. But traditional public school educators aren’t the only ones on the move.

How Chicago Became First City To Make Reparations To Victims Of Police Violence

yesmagazine.org

By Yana Kunichoff for Yes! Magazine – He was among the first of at least 120 young, primarily Black men whom Chicago police officers would torture into false confessions. Yet while many who suffer at the hands of the police never get justice, Smith’s story ended differently. More than 40 years later, following the passage of historic reparations legislation, he became one of the first Black people in America to be granted reparations for racial violence. After receiving parole, Smith moved out of the city and attempted to rebuild his life. But his struggles were far from over. Given the conviction on his record, Smith faced difficulty in everything from finding work to accessing his car insurance benefits. He remained haunted by his experiences as a teen inside the interrogation room and never felt at ease in Chicago again—until May 6, 2015.

New Charges In Laquan McDonald Shooting Case

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By Andy Grimm for Chicago Sun Times – Prosecutors on Thursday tacked on 16 new counts to the first-degree murder charges against Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke in the shooting of Laquan McDonald. A new indictment handed up by a grand jury last week adds the 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, apparently one for each shot Van Dyke fired at McDonald, special prosecutor Joseph McMahon said in a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse. The new indictment, returned on March 16, still includes the six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct that were charged in November 2015, when the case was being handled by former State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Ignoring Chicago, Toronto Has A Big, Stupid Idea

Popular Resistance, Revolution, Rebellion, Capitalism

By Joyce Nelson for Counter Punch – Last weekend, the good folks of Toronto, Ontario learned that their elected officials at City Hall are considering selling off the Toronto Parking Authority – which operates dozens of municipal parking lots as well as on-street parking. It’s a big, stupid idea that indicates our “city fathers” apparently don’t read, but also that they can’t see through the latest scam being sold by some corporate lobbyist. It’s as though the Innocents in Toronto City Hall have never heard of the parking meter scandal that ate Chicago and has become an unmitigated disaster – even though more press has likely been given to that fiasco than to any other public-private partnership (P3) undertaken in recent U.S. history.