All posts by dwightweingarten2019

For those who pushed for Illinois minimum wage increase, automation poses questions, challenges


By Dwight A. Weingarten
Medill Reports

The Illinois state minimum wage will rise to $9.25 an hour on Jan. 1, 2020, increasing for the first time in a decade, and to $15 an hour by 2025. But the struggle of low-wage workers and their political allies who fought for the increase face a seemingly steep obstacle—automation, robotics and kiosk services.

In the spring of 1964, civil rights activist Bob Moses spoke at Stanford University in an attempt to recruit students to join him in Mississippi to help register voters. Moses’ words about organizing and human rights hold true some 55 years later and will frame the struggle that achieved the $15 minimum wage in Illinois – click on Moses’ words quoted in this story to hear the original recording of the speech.

The Demonstration
“All the questions about automation, all the questions about our schools, all the questions about our cities—what kind of cities will we have?—all of these find their focus in the public eye in terms of some kind of civil rights demonstration or another.” Bob Moses Continue reading

In the Information Age, civil rights activist promotes mathematics education to foster national citizenship

By Dwight A. Weingarten

Medill Reports

Activist Bob Moses hearkened back to the Civil Rights Movement when describing his inspiration for The Algebra Project, which seeks to raise the floor of math literacy for students in the bottom quartile of state standardized exams across the U.S.

In the spring of 1963, Bob Moses found himself on the witness stand in federal district court after field secretaries of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) were arrested for registering people to vote in Mississippi.

“Why is SNCC taking illiterates down to register to vote?,” Judge Claude F. Clayton asked Moses. Continue reading

Looming power plant closure leaves Hopi seeking new energy and revenue sources

By Dwight A. Weingarten
Medill Reports

Walpi and the Hopi Landscape

Traveling north nearly 300 miles from Phoenix along winding roads lies Walpi, a village inhabited for more than 1,100 years.

Walpi sits atop First Mesa and looks down from a 300-foot peak on the land of the Hopi nation that stretches across three mesas, encompassing roughly 2,500 square miles in northern Arizona.

The Hopi people, who predate the United States by thousands of years, constitute a sovereign nation recognized and protected by the United States Constitution as well as by legal precedent. Continue reading

Amara Enyia looks ahead after mayor’s race

By Dwight A. Weingarten
Medill Reports

Midway through her run for mayor, Amara Enyia relayed a question that a young girl asked her on the far South Side when she learned Enyia was running for mayor of Chicago. “Wow, how do you do that?” the girl said.

“I looked at her and I sort of laughed,” Enyia told the crowd at one of the many mayoral forums. “And I said, ‘You can too, why not?’”

Enyia, the director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, sought to become Chicago’s first African American female mayor and the city’s youngest mayor in recent history. Her candidacy alone was a work of education, a work she finished Tuesday as she cast her ballot. She received 8 percent of the vote, finishing sixth in a field of 14. Top vote-getter Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle now face off in an April 2 runoff.

Amara Enyia casts her ballot at the Ike Sims Village in the East Garfield Park neighborhood. Enyia was accompanied at the polls by her parents, Irene and Sam Enyia. (Video by Dwight A. Weingarten)

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Chicago mayors: A mixed legacy on the environment

By Dwight A. Weingarten
Medill Reports

When Chicago’s first Mayor William B. Ogden took office in 1837, he along with two alderman crafted the city seal.

The city’s motto, “Urbs in Horto,” or City in a Garden, that appears at the bottom of the seal, quickly lost much of its literal meaning even with huge parks left amid all the development. Ogden himself, upon leaving office, helped transform the city into one of the nation’s leading railway hubs over the course of the next decade.

As the world discusses the impacts of climate change, Chicago mayors have taken  role in that conversation. Take a look back at Chicago mayors key moments in the environment and development of the city.

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Two mayoral candidates propose city public bank

By Dwight A. Weingarten
Medill Reports

While 12 of Chicago’s mayoral candidates addressed issues of housing, immigration, policing, among other critical issues at a packed forum, two zeroed in on an emerging but untested idea for a municipal public bank.

“We need to create a municipal bank that is from the community, for the community, which will give us low-interest loans in those [low-investment] neighborhoods to help with economic development,” said candidate Garry McCarthy, the former superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, speaking at the recent forum at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Born from the soda pop tax repeal, independent commission to examine Cook County revenue

By Dwight A. Weingarten
Medill Reports

Balancing your family budget often starts with taking a hard look at available income before determining the expenses you can afford.

For Cook County, a new Independent Revenue Forecasting Commission will be mapping out the county’s projected revenue starting in April in response to widespread criticism that forced repeal of the soda pop tax little more than two months after the tax took effect in 2017.

“The goal of the commission is to inform the budget process,” said Victoria Moreno, director of legislation for former commissioner Jesús G. “Chuy” García, who was the chief sponsor of the revenue forecasting ordinance. Continue reading