Public Affairs

Black history told in 30 minutes for history month celebration

By Kate Morrissey

In just 30 minutes, a cast of readers provided a timeline of African-American history beginning with life in Africa, moving through slave trade and emancipation and culminating in the progress made by people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama.

The Illinois Department of Human Rights hosted readings Wednesday from a play “From Slavery to the White House,” written by Crystal Phoenix Tyler of Blue Sky Rhythm Productions, at the James R. Thompson Center in observation of black history month.

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VIDEO: The return of ‘dibs’ to Chicago causes conflict in neighborhoods

By J’nelle Agee

Calling dibs on a newly shoveled parking spot has long been a winter tradition in Chicago. Many residents are upset that their neighbors continue to put objects in parking spaces to reserve them until  they return home from work. Others feel that if you shovel and do the work you should be able to park in the spot you cleared.

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Rauner Declares ‘Fair Share’ Fees a Violation of First Amendment

By Lucy Ren

Governor Bruce Rauner declares in a federal lawsuit that the “fair share” union fees are “unconstitutional,” as the Supreme Court has repeated recognized from recent cases that “compelling a state employee to financially support a public sector union seriously impinges upon the free speech and association interests protected by the First Amendment.”

Steven Schwinn, associate professor at the John Marshall Law School, opined that if the case goes eventually to the Supreme Court, Rauner will win. “The Supreme Court will ineffably hold that the fair share fees are violating the First Amendment,” he said. “I disagree with that personally, but I think he’s probably right about that.” Continue reading

VIDEO: West Suburban PADS offers long-term solution for Chicago’s homeless

By Joe Musso

The windy city is known for its unrelenting winters, and the past month has been no exception.  One west-suburban homeless shelter is providing services that go far beyond a blanket and a warm bowl of soup.

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Education advocates split over elected, appointed school board

By Phoebe Tollefson

Roughly two weeks before citywide elections, education advocates debated the merits of a mayor-appointed and voter-elected school board, while noting issues such as conflicting interests and political pressures.

“I do have a concern about inserting more politics into school board operations,” said Jesse Ruiz,, vice president of the Chicago Board of Education, during a panel discussion Monday at the City Club of Chicago. “Well, you may laugh, but again, I don’t have to raise a dime from anybody.

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VIDEO: High-tech transportation transforms Chicago

By Mariel Turner

High-tech transportation is growing all over the country, and Chicago is no exception. A recent study cites services like Uber, Lyft and Divvy, to rank the Windy City as 14th in the nation for shared-use mobility.  Continue reading

10th ward candidates debate jobs, safety for the Southeast Side

By Lizz Giordano and Sarah Kramer

Candidates for Chicago’s 10th Ward aldermanic seat called for more jobs and more police presence for the economically depressed Southeast Side at an open forum in Hegewisch.

Five of the seven candidates running in the upcoming citywide elections on February 24 appeared Thursday night before an audience of activists, residents and supporters. The contenders voiced frustration with City Hall and the current Ald. John Pope while calling for greater transparency in municipal politics. Continue reading

VIDEO: Challenges persist for women entrepreneurs

By Meg Rauch

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner recently signed an executive order to improve business opportunities for women and minorities. And President Obama is urging Congress to pass legislation for women to receive equal pay in the workplace. These actions aim to help women entrepreneurs to overcome many of the challenges they face today. A Chicago law clinic has also stepped in to help.  Continue reading

Chicago’s ‘problem landlords list’ questioned by experts

By Stephanie Choporis

Housing experts and a private building owner are questioning the effectiveness of Chicago’s ‘problem’ landlords list and the properties selected for the record.

Some think the list is limited in scope and not targeting landlords with the most serious building code violations.

The inaugural list, published on the department of buildings website on Jan. 27, contains 45 residential properties and their landlords. Owners on the list have gone through at least two administrative hearings in the past two years for the listed property and were found responsible for three or more serious building code violations, such as inadequate heat, lack of hot water, defective or missing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and insect infestation.
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VIDEO: Drone interest takes off as regulation lags behind popularity

By Laura Furr

From the White House to Chicago’s suburbs, from Lollapalooza to Snapchat, unmanned aerial systems, commonly known as drones, have been making headlines.

And as drone technology becomes cheaper with user-friendly photo and video capabilities, interest in personal drone use has taken off. Continue reading