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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:46pm
Wed Oct 29

Chicago Education Activists Warn Of More 'Civil Disobedience' Over Dyett High School

Chicago education activists who have been fighting to save Walter H. Dyett High School from closing next year are furious over the prospect of a contract operator taking control of the Bronzeville school.

Members of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School, who for nearly a year have been pushing a plan to turn Dyett into a "global leadership and green technology" open-enrollment high school, took their outrage to City Hall on Wednesday morning, warning that local Ald. Will Burns (4th) and Mayor Rahm Emanuel "will have a major case of civil disobedience on their hands" if their community-driven proposal for the South Side school is not adopted.

"If a white, middle-class community came up with an in-depth, community-based plan for their neighborhood public school, they would get it," said Joy Clendenning, a 4th Ward resident who sits on the local school council at Kenwood Academy High. "We want the Walter H. Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology Community High School, and we want it now." 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:22pm
Wed Oct 29

Report: Emanuel's $13 Minimum Wage Plan Would 'Shortchange' Women, Minority Workers

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposal to lift the city's hourly minimum wage to $13 would leave out approximately 65,000 low-wage workers who are mostly women and people of color.

That's according to a new Center for Popular Democracy report, which compared the potential impacts of the mayor's $13 minimum wage plan with a competing $15 minimum wage ordinance introduced in late May by a group of aldermen, including members of the council's Progressive Reform Caucus. 

The proposed $13 ordinance specifically "shortchanges" domestic and tipped workers, the majority of whom are women of color, according to the report.

The Raise Chicago coalition, which supports the $15 plan, released the report's findings at a City Hall press conference Wednesday morning. More low-wage Chicago workers would be covered by the $15 plan, which would also almost double the economic impact for the city compared to the $13 measure, the report found.

"With the opportunity to nearly double the economic growth of people across the city, our Raise Chicago ordinance would help propel people towards financial stability, help this city and state with tax revenues, and its effects would ripple through every community in Chicago," said Action Now Executive Director Katelyn Johnson, a Raise Chicago leader. "The mayor's proposal does not do enough to address the needs of Chicagoans and, in fact, will keep people living paycheck to paycheck."

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
4:32pm
Tue Oct 28

Protesters: Ferrara Candy Co. Does Not Hire African Americans (VIDEO)

African Americans are not being provided an equal opportunity for work at Ferrara Candy Company, according to a group of protesters who took their message to the company's Forest Park factory Tuesday morning.

"Ferrara Candy makes millions of dollars, particularly in the Halloween season, on the folks in this community. We want them to ensure the people who make their candy in this community are the folks that actually live in this community," said Elce Redmond, organizer with the South Austin Coalition Community Council.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
9:31pm
Fri Oct 24

Chicago Activists Target 'Rubberstamp' Aldermen, Unveil Website Tracking Voting History

While the focus is on the November midterm elections, Chicago residents will soon head to the ballot box again for February's municipal elections. In order to help voters prep for that election, community activists launched a new website Thursday designed to make the votes of Chicago aldermen more transparent and clear.

"Voters need a real tool to understand who their alderman stand for and what they stand for," said Amisha Patel, executive director of Grassroots Illinois Action, which helped put the website together.

Quick Hit
by Aricka Flowers
8:25pm
Thu Oct 23

McKinney, Clout & The Freedom Of The Press: Where Would Illinois Be Headed Under Rauner's Reign? (UPDATED)

Former Chicago Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney's resignation from the paper is fueling players in both the political and media worlds to speculate about not only the future of the Windy City's oldest news publication, but also what it means for journalism in the state in a greater sense -- and what a Rauner-ruled Illinois could look like.

After 19 years at the newspaper, McKinney issued his immediate resignation Wednesday, stating in an open letter that, essentially, he had no choice but to make the "difficult decision due to the disturbing developments I've experienced in the last two weeks that cannot be reconciled with this newspaper's storied commitment to journalism."

The "disturbing developments" stem from the newspaper's response to the "multiple tactics" GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner's campaign deployed in an attempt to stop the publication of a story co-written by McKinney, Carol Marin and Don Moseley. The article detailed allegations that Rauner threatened a former employee, ex-LeapSource CEO Christine Kirk, as well as her family when it became clear that she planned to sue Rauner and his then-investment firm GTCR. Despite threats from the Republican's campaign stating they would "go over" the heads of those working on the story, according to McKinney, the piece ran.

And that's when the Rauner camp reportedly pounced even more viciously, penning an "opposition-research hit piece-rife with errors-about" McKinney's wife Ann Liston, a Democratic consultant. Although Sun-Times Publisher and Editor Jim Kirk responded to the Rauner camp's allegations of a conflict of interest, saying the "'assault' on my integrity 'border[ed] on defamation' and represented 'a low point in the campaign,'" according to the political reporter, actions were allegedly taken days later to silence and demote him.

Enter Sun-Times Chairman Michael Ferro.

Quick Hit
by Aricka Flowers
10:26pm
Sun Oct 19

Republicans Crow As Questions Swirl Surrounding Sun-Times' Rauner Endorsement

The Illinois Republican Party and Rauner campaign sent out manic messages to the media and supporters this weekend crowing about the Chicago Sun-Times' endorsement of the Republican gubernatorial candidate as questions swirl about the motivation behind the decision. 

After sitting out of the endorsement game for the last three years, the newspaper switched gears and enthusiastically endorsed Bruce Rauner for governor, announcing their sole endorsement in the upcoming election. The endorsement states that the catalyst behind the about face is due to the race being "simply too important to the future of Illinois for us to stay silent."

"It may well be the most important election in our state's modern history," reads the endorsement, which was posted online Saturday and published in the Sunday paper.

And although that may very well be true, there is much speculation that the endorsement had little to do with the high stakes of the race and much more to do with Rauner's relationship with the media company and Michael Ferro Jr., chairman of Wrapports LLC, the parent company of Sun-Times Media. Rauner previously owned 10 percent of Wrapports, selling his share to Ferro for $5 million shortly before announcing his gubernatorial run. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:22pm
Thu Oct 16

Report: Sexual Harassment Widespread In The Restaurant Industry

Many restaurant employees face frequent sexual harassment on the job from managers, co-workers and customers. 

That's according to a recent survey and report by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) and Forward Together, which found that 66 percent of female and more than half of male restaurant employees experienced sexual harassment at some point from a work superior.

The survey of 688 current and former restaurant workers in 39 states also showed that 80 percent of women and 70 percent of men faced sexual harassment at the hands of co-workers. Sexual teasing, inappropriate touching and sexually suggestive gestures are some of the harassment examples cited by workers, who were surveyed May through August of this year.

Among other troubling findings, nearly 80 percent of women and 55 percent of men reported being harassed by restaurant customers while at work.

"Our report finds that sexual harassment is absolutely systemic across the restaurant industry and is experienced by a majority of workers, but the heaviest impact is borne by women, trans people, tipped workers and workers in states that allow employers to pay tipped workers as little as $2.13 an hour," said Eveline Shen, executive director of Forward Together, a social advocacy organization.
 
Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:01pm
Tue Oct 14

Schneider, Preckwinkle Tout Affordable Care Act Benefits; Slam Dold For Anti-Obamacare Voting Record

U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL,10) and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle discussed the importance of the Affordable Care Act with Illinoisans who have benefited from the health reform law at a Tuesday roundtable discussion in Des Plaines.

At the small gathering, held at the Frisbie Senior Center, Schneider criticized his Republican opponent, former one-term Congressman Bob Dold, for voting several times while in Congress to repeal or weaken the president's signature health reform law. 

"When my opponent was in Congress, every time the Republicans brought an effort to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act — not some of the times, but every time — he voted with Republicans" to repeal it, said Schneider, who unseated Dold in 2012 and is seeking a second term. "In contrast ... I have not voted for repeal and I will not vote for repeal. We need to move forward."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:48pm
Tue Oct 14

Chicagoans Speak Out Against School Actions Cited In Federal Civil Rights Complaint

U.S. Department of Education officials heard first-hand stories about the impact public school closings and consolidations are having in Chicago at a South Side community meeting held Monday night with parents, students and their supporters.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is currently looking into a complaint filed by education activists alleging "racially discriminatory" school actions and closings in Chicago. Organizers with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) and the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School spearheaded the town hall meeting, held at First Unitarian Church of Chicago in Hyde Park. The discussion was designed to allow education department reps to hear directly from the people affected by the school actions cited in the complaint. The two education department officials were at the meeting strictly to listen.

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