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A 92-Year Cubs Fan And A Lifetime Of Baseball Memories

8 hours 7 min ago
My dad was the quintessential Cubs fan. Years ago as the Cubs made the playoffs, he reminisced. Now with the Cubs in the World Series, or as we Chicago fans say "Hell frozen over," it feels appropriate to share his story.

The year was 1927 and Calvin Coolidge was President. Charles Lindberg flies his first solo flight from New York to Paris. The Model A car debuted and the mechanical cotton picker was invented. That was also the year my father's love affair with the Chicago Cubs began.

"I was four years old," said Sheldon Sternberg, 80, and former Wilmette resident. "I sat on my father's lap for my first Cub's game and Hack Wilson autographed a baseball for me."

When asked if he kept the autographed ball, Sternberg said, "I probably used it."

Hack Wilson held the National League home run record of 56 home runs, a record that would not be broken for 68 years.

Over the next seven decades, there were many changes in my father's life. He grew up in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, attended DePaul University for two years and enlisted in the Air Force when he was 19. He flew seven bombing missions in World War II and received an Air Medal and four bronze stars. He married Elaine Oscherwitz, whose father started Best Kosher Sausage Company and went on to run the business. They had four children and 13 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.

But the one constant in my dad's life was his love for the Cubs.

"The last time my dad and I went to a game, we saw Don Cardwell pitch a no-hitter. It was 1960. We sat in the bleachers," Sternberg said.

This love for the Cubbies was something all of us Sternberg children inherited. If I close my eyes, I see my dad with his transistor radio, sitting on the patio, listening to the game. I can still hear the voices of Lou Boudreaux, Jack Brickhouse and Harry Caray. And I can still remember our summer weekend ritual.

On Sundays, my dad's first stop would be the now defunct Ricky's Deli in Skokie. There he would order three large loaves of rye bread.

"What, no corned beef or pastrami to go with that?" the counter men said each week.

My father would bring home Best Kosher corned beef, salami, bologna for the sandwiches we would take to the Cubs game. Along with my brothers, Michael and David and sister, Nancy we would begin our assembly line. One person laid out the bread, the next slapped on the mustard, then someone added the meat and last person cut the sandwich.

And so we would enter Wrigley field with two dozen sandwiches. More, if there was a doubleheader.

Each summer, we all worked at Best Kosher. But the best part about our job was that often, on a moments notice, we would leave at 1:00 p.m. and head out to Wrigley Field. We attended so many games, that I have clear memories of Ernie Banks, Don Kessinger, Ron Santo, Fergie Jenkins, Ted Abernathy's submarine pitch, Adolpho Phillips and Randy Hundley. They were, after all, almost family.

In 1962, my dad and mom went to Spring Training in Mesa, Arizona. There they were greeted by Charles Grimm who escorted them to their seats.

In 1969, I remember having dinner on a Friday night when the phone ring. I answered. It was for my dad and when I asked who was calling, the voice said, Maury Wills of the LA Dodgers.

I replied, "Sure Uncle Jerry (the family prankster) and I'm the Queen of England."

It was in fact Maury Wills who was a representative for Best Kosher in L.A. Later that year we were his guests at a game and had front row dugout seats.

My siblings and I made a sign that read, "Go Cubs Go". The sign caused such a commotion that ushers told us if we didn't put it down we would have to leave.

My friends all thought my father had a hearing problem since the always had an earphone in his ear listening to baseball. In 1975, I got married on a Sunday afternoon, a day the Cubs had an important (well, they were all important) doubleheader. Everyone took bets that my dad would walk me down the aisle with an earphone.

In 1984, my dad and David sat in the bleachers for the playoffs. And in 1985, another thrill. My dad was invited to be on the Cubs Care committee to raise funds for Nothwestern Memorial. Ron Santo chaired the committee.

My father's love for his team never wavered. In spite of sometimes calling someone a bum for striking out, it was pure loyalty. When I asked my dad to explain where that came from, his answer was simple.

"It's the fact that the Cubs are the Cubs. And for years, when I was a kid, the Cubs were a great team," he said. And then he surprised me with statistics which he easily rattled off.

"They were in the World Series in 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938 and 1945," he said without skipping a beat.

Just last week, my husband Billy and I hurried back from a quick trip in time for Yom Kippur services. My dad planned to go with us to Temple.

I called my dad as soon as we got home. Services were at 6 p.m. and the Cubs were playing the Braves in the playoffs.

"Dad, what are we going to do?" I said. "It's Yom Kippur. We have never missed that service."

And my father's reply still has me laughing.

"Susan," he said. "A prayer for the Cubs is a Yom Kippur prayer."

Postscript: My dad passed away April 9, 2015. But not before rallying in his hospital room with all his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to watch opening day. I remember him with his oxygen mask and Cubs hat. Someone had Arietta send him a personal video thanking him for his years of dedication to the Cubs:

And here is his headstone:

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Mark Kirk Won't Say Who Has His Vote For President

Wed, 2016-10-26 13:31

WASHINGTON ― Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) won’t say which presidential candidate he’s voting for, a curious move considering he’s now changed his mind about his endorsement four times.

Kirk, who is struggling in his Senate race against Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth, said months ago that he planned to write in former CIA Director David Petraeus for president. But in an interview with a Chicago radio station on Wednesday, he refused to confirm whether that was still his plan.

“I said that largely out of total frustration,” Kirk said. “The joke I’ve seen going around is, ‘If you had a rowboat and it sprung a leak with Hillary and Trump in it and it sank, who would win?’”

Asked if that means he doesn’t have a candidate he’s planning to vote for, the Republican senator replied, “I don’t at this point. Pretty frustrated by the choice that we have now.”

Kirk’s comments come after he’s endorsed ― and then un-endorsed ― different people for president four times. He originally backed GOP nominee Donald Trump, but announced in June that he couldn’t support him anymore and planned to write in Petraeus instead. In July, he changed his mind and said he planned to write in former Secretary of State Colin Powell. By mid-August, Kirk changed his mind again, and was back to endorsing Petraeus.

His latest position, which is that he has no candidate, comes less than two weeks before Election Day.

Asked for comment on Kirk’s changing positions, his campaign spokesman Kevin Artl had only this to say: “Give it up.”

Kirk isn’t the only GOP lawmaker in a tight race who is trying to escape Trump’s shadow. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) won’t say who he’s voting for, either. Senate hopeful Joe Heck (R-Nev.) said Tuesday that voters don’t have a right to know who he’s voting for. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) said he might not vote at all.

HUFFPOST READERS: What’s happening in your state or district? The Huffington Post wants to know about all the campaign ads, mailers, robocalls, candidate appearances and other interesting campaign news happening by you. Email any tips, videos, audio files or photos to

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Why Police Reform Needs To Be An Inside Job

Wed, 2016-10-26 13:12

CHICAGO ― Even staunch advocates of policing admit that major changes are needed to salvage the institution’s reputation and efficacy after two years of harsh scrutiny over racism, secrecy and lack of accountability.

They disagree, however, on how to best do that.

The discussion around police reform hit a major flashpoint last November with the release of a video showing a Chicago cop shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times as the teen walked away. 

“Because it was so stark, there was no denying how horrible it was,” Craig Futterman, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, told The Huffington Post ahead of last week’s Chicago Ideas Week conference. He and several other policing experts met there to discuss the police force of the future ― with discussions ranging from better officer recruitment to full-scale abolition.

“But perhaps more important, what caught even the most causal observer, was what happened afterwards,” Futterman added. 

Footage of the fatal shooting was only made public after an anonymous tipster told Futterman it existed, and he stared a yearlong legal battle to have it released. In addition to discrediting the police’s official narrative, the video galvanized already growing scrutiny around problems that reform advocates say are pervasive in police departments across the U.S. 

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Some law enforcement officials, including FBI Director James Comey, have responded by invoking the “viral video effect” ― a popular but discredited theory that filming police has actually resulted in higher overall crime rates and fewer arrests. 

But Futterman says videos only reveal problems that have been there all along.

Rationale for police misconduct has changed from “justified shootings” to “acts of self-defense” to “one bad apple,” he said, noting that videos force departments to reckon with patterns that have led to that evolution.

“We shouldn’t forget the whole saying: One bad apple spoils the whole bunch,” Futterman said. “We’ve had systemic issues with regard to racism and brutality for years. That goes beyond the bad acts of a single person.”  

I think the profession has been irreparably damaged and we have to figure out what’s next.
Former NYPD officer Eugene O’Donnell

Eugene O’Donnell, a former New York City police officer and prosecutor who now teaches at John Jay College, took issue with the belief that Americans are generally unhappy with the police. He argued instead that “elites” ― like journalists and politicians ― have led much of the anger directed at law enforcement.

Still, he acknowledged that departments can’t go on with business as usual. 

“I think the profession has been irreparably damaged and we have to figure out what’s next,” O’Donnell said. 

Many of his peers support community policing ― a strategy that involves officers fostering trust by patrolling a specific area to build relationships and familiarize themselves with the issues there ― but O’Donnell said that tactic ignores the reality of police work.

“Built into the police role is that they make enemies with people,” he said. “That’s the way policing works.” 

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O’Donnell said he believes the current climate of scrutiny could lead to a longer-term crisis of no one wanting to be a cop.

A dearth of recruits has prompted departments to lower their hiring standards related to such issues as exam performance, drug tests and academic qualifications, he said. About 1 percent of police forces nationwide currently require a four-year degree; nearly a decade years ago, 75 percent of forces required one

“I don’t know what [police] are allowed to do once they get hired,” O’Donnell said, noting that widespread criticisms of law enforcement have resulted in some officers feeling like they can’t use traditional policing methods.

President Barack Obama established a task force on 21st-century policing in 2014. The group recommended in a report released the following year that police departments should improve how they collect data, particularly regarding use of force. 

Cedric Alexander, a task force member and public safety director in DeKalb County, Georgia, said better data collection could be a step toward building better community-police relations and rooting out excessive force.

“I think you’re going to see a much better police department if you can see the data and see what they’re doing the street,” Alexander said during a panel discussion at Chicago Ideas Week. 

Marc Lamont Hill, an African-American studies professor at Morehouse College and former HuffPost Live host, was the panelist most wary of the proposed reforms. He comes from a self-described radical background, and said the institution of policing is too broken to mend because it was built on a foundations of racism, brutality and secrecy. 

In the immediate term, Hill suggests decreasing the overcriminalization of small infractions, which are overwhelmingly enforced against black and Latino Americans. Something like selling CDs in front of a store should be regulated by a community entity rather than an armed police force, he said. 

The cost of perpetuating bad practices, Hill said, is loss of human life.

“Take Eric Garner ― that’s ticky-tacky policing,” he said. “That’s ‘I gotta stop a guy selling loose cigarettes because those type of minor offenses lead to major ones.’ Bad policing causes people to die.” 

Futterman, the University of Chicago professor, said the tight-knit, fraternal culture of police departments has contributed to the challenge of overhauling the institution. There is a dangerous “us versus them” mentality that has abetted misconduct ― and punished whistleblowers trying to do the right thing.

“If you buck the official narrative, you get crushed. Not just by the rank-and-file, but by the entire department,” Futterman said. “That could mean the end of your career, the end of your life, the end of your family.” 

The person who alerted him about the McDonald footage, for example, still works in Chicago law enforcement and has chosen to remain anonymous. 

Moving forward, Futterman said departments must fire officers who lie on reports and criminally prosecute anyone who retaliates against their peers for blowing the whistle on misconduct. 

“If you’re going to lie, if you submit false reports, put people in jail who shouldn’t be in jail, if you’re going to abuse your power to wantonly hurt someone who is weaker than you, you absolutely have no business wearing a badge,” he said. 

Reconciling the longstanding practices with the new expectations is part of the issue, Futterman said. And he agreed it would be difficult for the officers. 

“If you’ve taught me for all these years that policing means laying hands on more and more people, and you’re telling me not to do that, what do I do now?” Futterman said. “The ground has moved beneath them.”  

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Will judge strike down Chicago's food truck rules?

Tue, 2016-10-25 15:31
For the past four years, Chicago has forced food trucks to live under ridiculous rules. But depending on the outcome of a case now before Cook County Circuit Court Judge Anna Helen Demacopoulos, the Chicago Way may have to change.

The anticipated Dec. 5 court ruling - and the hope it could change things for the better - couldn't come at a better moment for food trucks. In recent weeks, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been coming after these small-business owners. But they've faced the city's wrath for years, even after City Council passed rules "legitimizing" the industry in 2012.

Vendors who want to operate in the city:

• Can't sell within 200 feet of a brick-and-mortar business that sells food (including anything from McDonalds to CVS)
• Have to be on the move every two hours (it takes about this long just to set up and tear down for the day)
• Plug in a GPS tracker to let the government know where they are (creepy)

Food trucks can park legally by just 3 percent of curbs in the Loop, the city's busiest weekday lunch district, according to analysis from the Institute for Justice, an Arlington, Va.-based litigation group that represents food truck owners in the lawsuit against the city.

Food trucks have become an easy target for politicians and insiders because they threaten the status quo. For many years, the restaurant industry has propped up friendly politicians with campaign cash and support. In return, restaurants get preferential treatment.

Restaurants, and groups and individuals affiliated with them, gave total campaign donations worth $180,926 to Chicago aldermen in 2015, according to Illinois State Board of Elections data compiled by the Chicago watchdogs at Project Six. This figure doesn't include some restaurant owners or lobbyists, who likely donate under other names or entities.

Chicago's failure to fully embrace food trucks is a shame, because the burgeoning industry is a bright spot of entrepreneurship in the city. After years of the same old options, people working downtown can pop outside to get an empanada, fried chicken or an organic salad. The options are expanding all the time as more food entrepreneurs move in to meet growing demand.

"The people obviously want food trucks and line up for us. They want more," said Jacob Rush, co-founder of Bruges Brothers food truck. "But to think that every business is looking over their shoulder every day for another beat cop to put a boot on a truck, waiting for a new regulation, waiting for a new license fee or tax that could hamper our business ... it's baffling."

And while owners scrimp and sweat to make ends meet, they're met at every turn with animosity.

"It's clear based on comments by the aldermen that the laws exist to protect certain businesses," said Rush, who has operated his business in Chicago for two years, and now has three full-time and several part-time staff.

"Some of my employees have kids, and they depend on us," he said. "But the laws here are constricting the businesses so much that it puts 10-12 trucks out of business every year."

It's time Chicago's elected leaders stopped targeting the little guy. Unfortunately, it may take a court ruling to get officials to do the right thing.

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Man's 1993 Yearbook Photo Predicts Chicago Cubs Win 2016 World Series

Tue, 2016-10-25 13:30

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Chicago Cubs fans are looking at a 1993 yearbook photo taken in Mission Viejo, California as a sign of good fortune.

The Cubs last won a World Series in 1908, but in 1993, Michael Lee outrageously predicted a World Series win for the Cubs in his yearbook picture.

He cheekily added, “You heard it here first.” 

The photo has since gone viral after Twitter user Thomas J. Dale posted a photo of the yearbook prediction that he said his mother found.

*mom walks into my room* -look at my yearbook from '93 #...
This dude called the cubs winning the series in 2016 for his senior quote.

— Thomas j Dale (@tommydale33) October 25, 2016

Admittedly, faking a yearbook pic is well in the realm of a capable photoshop hoaxer.

However, one Reddit user named number1makeitso claims to have found four other copies of the same yearbook, and that Lee’s prediction is in those yearbooks as well. The user posted them on Imgur as evidence:

And Lee’s former classmate Marcos Meza never forgot the prediction, according to WGN TV.

“When [Lee and I] connected on Facebook in 2009 I sent him the photo and told him we were nearing 2016. He posted the photo of his prediction on August 8th,” Meza told the station. “After my Dodgers lost it was time for me to make this go viral and BeLEEve in the Cubs for 2016.”

The station has been in contact with Lee, who, fittingly, lives in the Chicago area and is waiting to see if his prediction comes true.

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Even The Lions Outside The Art Institute Of Chicago Have Cubs Fever

Mon, 2016-10-24 09:49

These Cubs fans are roaring.

The lions outside of the Art Institute of Chicago received Cubs hats on Monday morning in honor of the team’s first trip to the World Series since 1945. WGN TV provided live coverage of the caps being placed on the statues around 8 a.m. ET. 

As the pictures below show, getting a hat on these animals takes a bit of work. 

Art Institute lions get Cubs caps for first time ever

— WGN TV News (@WGNNews) October 24, 2016

The Art Institute’s support of the city’s sports teams has become a Chicago tradition. In the past, the lions have worn Bears, White Sox, and Blackhawks gear during those teams’ championship runs.

Of course, it has been a while since the Cubs were in the World Series. This marks the first time these lions have sported Cubs hats

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Tic Tac Trump

Mon, 2016-10-24 07:10
With Donald Trump still unwilling to say that he'll leave the political stage gracefully after voters send him packing on November 8, I decided to write him some exit music.

My message to the Donald is simple: "Pop a Tic Tac and kiss your ass goodbye."

(M. Farmer)

It was last July in Cleveland
When the circus came to town
And the GOP went and sold its soul
To a TV circus clown
Now weeks away from Election Day
The Trump Train's off the rails
Thanks to Tic Tacs,
Billy Bush and Roger Ailes

So now his game is to pin the blame
On everyone but him
By talking up a conspiracy
That's led by Carlos Slim
A billionaire from Mexico
Who somehow has the clout
To rig the race
And keep the Donald out

Hey, Donald Trump, time to hang it up
But thanks for stopping by
Your vision for America is never gonna fly
We won't have to say "You're fired"
'Cause you damn sure won't be hired
So pop a Tic-Tac
And kiss your ass goodbye

The Sunkist man with the spray-on tan
Has his back against the wall
And he's blowin' up the whole neighborhood
Just to watch other people fall
And to those too weak to take a stand
Against what he's said and done
We'll remember you
The next time that you run

Hey, Donald Trump, time to hang it up
But thanks for stopping by
Your vision for America is never gonna fly
We won't have to say "You're fired"
'Cause you damn sure won't be hired
So pop a Tic-Tac
And kiss your ass goodbye

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Bill Murray Crashes White House Press Room To Talk Chicago Cubs

Fri, 2016-10-21 16:21

Funny man Bill Murray has never been one to shy away from crashing a good time ― engagement photos, bachelor parties, kickball games, you name it.

But on Friday, the actor and comedian took his legendary spontaneity to new heights when he turned up in the White House briefing room decked out in Chicago Cubs gear. 

“So, you can actually sort of lean on it,” Murray said as he approached the lectern.

Asked if he thought his beloved Cubs would defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday to clinch their first World Series appearance since 1945, Murray said Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is a “great, great pitcher,” but the Cubs “got too many sticks.”

“And at home, with our crowd, the weather,” he said. “We also, we get a little bit of autumnage in Chicago. You don’t get that in Los Angeles. Trees just die in Los Angeles. In Illinois, they flourish.”

Murray took to the microphone shortly after White House press secretary Josh Earnest finished an official briefing, CNN reports. The comedian was reportedly in Washington to receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor from President Barack Obama.

After beating the Dodgers 8-4 on Thursday, the Cubs have a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

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How Downstate GOP Lawmakers Are Dealing With The 'Trump Effect'

Fri, 2016-10-21 15:20

For downstate Republicans, the subjects of voting for and supporting Donald Trump are a minefield.

They know that their districts gave Trump heavy support in the primary and the voters they need may be Trump loyalists. If they say they're not voting for Trump or that they don't support him as their party's nominee, they risk being branded as turncoats or "establishment" Republicans.

But Trump throughout the presidential race has issued ever more controversial statements that have turned many moderate Republicans against him. Republicans who too vociferously support Trump risk alienating these voters and, worse, risk becoming the subject of attack ads that link them directly to Trump's most outrageous episodes. It's already happened to Gov. Bruce Rauner, who never has endorsed Trump by name.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, had signed on to be Trump's agricultural adviser in August, but withdrew his support for Trump after video emerged of Trump speaking in crude and offensive terms about women. Davis announced his disavowal of Trump in a Facebook post, then incurred the wrath of hundreds of commenters who accused him of being a traitor and worse.

At a candidate forum hosted by The State Journal-Register in Springfield, Republican state Reps. Avery Bourne and Sara Wojcicki Jiminez both gave careful answers when asked if they would vote for Trump. Bourne said she would but did not mention Trump by name. Jiminez gave a very tactful answer that ended with her statement that she would decide Nov. 8.

Whether Trump's presence at the top of the ticket helps downstate Republicans or hurts them is something we won't know until after Election Day. But the "Trump effect" is a strange phenomenon and it's our topic on this week's "Only in Illinois."

Recommended: Was UIC Trump rally canceled because of Democrat-hired agitators?

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U.S. Cities Aren't Ready To Fend Off The Next Flint

Fri, 2016-10-21 14:28

It is increasingly clear that many American cities are facing immense struggles to provide residents with safe, reliable drinking water at an affordable cost.

This is particularly true of cities with high levels of poverty, unemployment and population decline, a perfect storm of factors that leaves water utilities with fewer resources to maintain and update aging infrastructure systems.

A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office released to the public this week paints a dire picture of the reality facing many U.S. water utilities today. Many of the cities studied face the same demographic and economic challenges that contributed to the ongoing and devastating water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

The GAO report reviewed the water infrastructure needs of utilities in 10 cities: five large, including Detroit, New Orleans and Pittsburgh, and five mid-size, including Youngstown, Ohio, and Macon, Georgia.

All of the cities — many of them in the Rust Belt, like Flint — have experienced dramatic population losses over the past 30 years. They were evaluated through interviews with water experts, city officials and utility managers and an analysis of existing data and records.

“These cities are facing economic challenges that makes it more difficult for them to deal with addressing their water and wastewater infrastructure needs,” J. Alfredo Gómez, a GAO spokesman, told The Huffington Post.

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Water pipeline repair and replacement is an urgent need at the majority of utilities, the report found. One utility, which the GAO did not individually identify, said that nearly all of the 740 miles of its pipelines need to be replaced, a project that would cost more than $390 million. (For comparison, the total 2016 budget of Youngstown was $185 million.)

Many of these utilities are also facing the prospect of costly lead replacement initiatives, but don’t appear to be all that concerned that they may be poisoning their customers. This is despite the fact that lead can enter the water supply through lead service lines if they corrode over time. Lead exposure is a public health hazard, especially for children.

Six of the 10 drinking water utilities also noted that they were aware that some portions of the service lines that connect customer homes to main water systems definitely or possibly contained lead. Most of them, however, “did not express concern about the risk of lead in their water,” the report read.

(This finding is in line with interviews HuffPost conducted with water officials in many of America’s largest cities earlier this month.)

Representatives from more than two-thirds of the utilities the GAO interviewed also said that their utilities were struggling with high leakage rates ranging from about 18 to 60 percent. Those rates are as much as four times higher than the 10 to 15 percent maximum water loss rate that the Environmental Protection Agency has identified as acceptable. 

Affordability of their services is also an issue facing many of the water utilities.

In order to keep up with growing infrastructure needs amid a declining customer base, all but two of the utilities the GAO considered had raised their rates for customers over the past two years. But more than half of the utilities the GAO spoke with expressed concerns about whether future rate hikes would be affordable to their customers.

That’s because many of these utilities’ low-income customers are already struggling to keep up with their water bill. In all but one of the cities in the GAO report — Macon — water rates already exceed amounts that are considered affordable by the EPA.

The report was alarming to Erik Olson, a senior advisor at the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Action Fund. 

“We really have not been investing [in water infrastructure]. We’ve not been keeping up with this,” Olson told HuffPost.

While the GAO report focused on a small number of cities, the national need for water infrastructure investments appears similarly massive. According to the American Water Works Association, a water safety advocacy group, the overall need to restore the nation’s existing water systems will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years. The EPA has estimated current water infrastructure needs at a more conservative but still massive $600 billion.

Delaying these sorts of investments will likely result in increased water service disruptions and degraded water service, plus an increasing share of utilities’ limited resources going toward emergency repairs rather than needed upgrades and expansions, the AWWA has reported.

Such is the reality for the residents of Flint in recent years, following the cost-saving decision to switch the city’s water source from the Detroit water system to the polluted, highly corrosive Flint River in 2014.

The water in Flint remains unsafe to drink more than two years after the city’s water troubles began and a year after they became public. And many Flint residents are struggling to pay their water bills, which were flagged by an advocacy group as among the highest in the nation.

On a more encouraging note, Olson described the needed investments as a potential “win-win” for communities like Flint that have struggled with high poverty and joblessness.

“If we invest in our future, we not only have safer water for us and our kids, but we also create a lot of jobs, good jobs, good American jobs,” Olson said. “It will be good for labor and jobs, but also really good for the environment and public health. This would be a really smart thing to do.”


Joseph Erbentraut covers promising innovations and challenges in the areas of food and water. In addition, Erbentraut explores the evolving ways Americans are identifying and defining themselves. Follow Erbentraut on Twitter at @robojojo. Tips? Email

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Voters, Don't Fall For These Over-the-Top Attack Ads

Fri, 2016-10-21 11:08
How to cut through all this campaign attack ad silliness


MATT DIETRICH: Madeleine, I am in a quandary. I can't decide whether my vote for state representative should go to the candidate who wants to end Social Security and Medicare or the one who is part of a cabal that pays millions of dollars to child sex offenders. I seek your guidance.

MADELEINE DOUBEK: Hmmm, these state representative races have become so complicated, haven't they? So if you take those claims at literal face value, you can vote for someone connected to someone who abuses the next generation or you can vote for someone who will ruin your own old age. Hey, actually, that pretty much is a metaphor for the predicament we all have in Illinois.

MATT: In the spirit of full disclosure, I must mention that, as a resident of the 99th House District, neither of my choices for state rep -- Republican incumbent Sara Wojcicki Jiminez and Democratic challenger Tony DelGiorno -- have so far been tagged with the accusations above. I was speaking metaphorically for the thousands of Illinois voters in other districts whose mailboxes have been stuffed with campaign materials designed by political party campaign committees making those very claims.

MADELEINE: Ahhh, well then, that's a different can of worms. The sex offender stuff is because the Dems had someone among them, former state Rep. Keith Farnham of Elgin, caught with child porn, right? That's why people in my 55th District got letters from state Rep. Marty Moylan mentioning Republican former U.S. House Speaker Denny Hastert. It invited us to sign a petition pushing for passage of a law to remove the statute of limitations for child sex offenders. Funny, I'd have figured if the super majority Dems were so concerned, they'd have made that the law already. So, what do you suppose is behind the Social Security and Medicare silliness?

MATT: Well, Reboot staffer Kevin Hoffman answered that question with his PolitiFact Illinois fact-check of an accusation by Democratic state Rep. Kate Cloonen of Kankakee that her opponent wanted to "take away" Social Security and Medicare. There wasn't a shred of truth to it and it earned Cloonen the dreaded "Pants on Fire" rating.

But the closest thing to an answer about the origin of the anti-Social Security theme -- which has been used against various Republican legislative candidates -- came from Steve Brown, spokesman for Illinois Democratic Party Chairman Michael Madigan. He told Bernard Schoenburg of The State Journal-Register that the charge was fair game for all Republican candidates because they're affiliated with the Republican Party.

MADELEINE: Well then, I guess anything is fair game, right? So, Matt, when you run for state representative, I'm just going to tell people you once were in a room with State Rep. Keith Farnham and you're bankrupting our nation because you plan to collect Social Security.

MATT: I guess that would be fair game, though I'm sure you'd have no trouble finding better oppo research on me. I should also mention that the official Republican Party Platform has sections on "saving" Social Security and "preserving" Medicare, but nary a word about taking them away. And while the term "take away" does not appear in the GOP platform, the words "take" and "away" appear individually 38 and 9 times, respectively. So maybe Mr. Brown has a point.

MADELEINE: Wow. And how many times do the party platforms say "sex" and "offender?" Seriously, though, what advice do you have for the poor, beleaguered voters of Illinois who have to survive this campaign ordeal?

MATT: I'd say a good rule of thumb is to disregard the extreme attack campaigns -- let's stipulate that no candidate in this cycle supports sex offenders or wants to take away Grandma's Social Security and Medicare. Check the return addresses on those mailers and you'll probably find that the most outrageous attacks come not from the candidates themselves but from their party organizations or some outside group.

As a longtime newspaper reporter -- and writer of many, many candidate endorsements -- I still believe that your best source of information about your candidates will come from your local paper and local candidate forums. And in this day and age, any credible candidate should have a decent website and social media presence. Those can give you a better picture of the candidate in his/her own words.

I highly recommend checking the Illinois Sunshine database and doing a search on your local candidates. See where their money is coming from and see if there are outside groups -- Super PACs -- working for against them.

MADELEINE: Matt, you almost had me. I was just about to nominate you for public office and sainthood, but you forgot to mention that for statewide races, you can also count on us at Reboot Illinois. We've got our scorecards where you can compare candidates side-by-side and with summaries and quotes. We've got our questionnaire with the Better Government Association where the candidates wrote long-answer essays and, best of all, we've got our fact checks in our role as PolitiFact Illinois, the exclusive Illinois partner of Pulitzer Prize winning PolitiFact. There's some help for for you, voters. And that's a campaign message you can believe!

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Poll: Clinton Thumping Trump in Illinois by 19-points, Leading in DuPage Too

Thu, 2016-10-20 17:51
Hillary Clinton holds not only a commanding 19-point lead over Donald Trump in Illinois according to a new poll, but also she has grabbed a solid lead over the reality TV star in a suburban DuPage battleground.

An October 13, 2016 poll conducted by Illinois Public Opinion Strategies (IPOS) of 664 likely Illinois voters finds that Clinton has a 50.0%-31.5% statewide edge over Trump. Libertarian Gary Johnson is taking 5.8% of the vote and Green Jill Stein is eking out 1.1%. 11.6% are undecided.

In 2012, when President Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney 57.6%-40.7% in Illinois, Johnson, running on the Libertarian ticket then too, snagged only 1.1% and Stein, 0.6%.

The new automated poll compares to a July 26 IPOS statewide survey of 824 likely voters that found that Clinton led Trump 49.2%-35.6%. Johnson took 4.3% and Stein had 1.6%. 9.3% were undecided. The survey had a +/- 3.5% margin of error.

Clinton has merely solidified her lead statewide.

But the former first lady has also established a firm advantage over Trump in the solidly Republican-held House district of appointed State Rep. David Olsen (R-Downers Grove), who earlier in the summer succeeded ex-State Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove), taking an eight-point lead in this DuPage County battleground. An October 12 IPOS poll of 378 likely voters found Clinton edging Trump 44%-36%. In 2014, Bruce Rauner beat Governor Pat Quinn in this district 60.3% to 37.4%.

Olsen faces Democrat and Downers Grove Village Commissioner Greg Hose on November 8.

While Trump is getting thumped statewide by Clinton and in Olsen's GOP district, Trump's cratering candidacy has - so far - avoided crushing Republican comptroller Leslie Munger's bid to win a full, four-year term against Democratic challenger and Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza.

The October 13 survey shows that Munger is outperforming Trump statewide and leading Mendoza 41%-39%. Libertarian Claire Ball is taking only 2.2% and Green Tim Curtin, 2.0%. 15.6% of voters are undecided.

Munger, who was appointed to her job in 2015 by Governor Bruce Rauner after incumbent Judy Baar Topinka died, is also outperforming Trump in Olsen's House district. In the October 12 poll, Munger is decisively beating Mendoza - like a Republican should in a Republican district - 50.4% to 28.9%. Johnson is taking 6.8% and Stein, 1.6%.

While Trump may be getting his clock cleaned and reassembled by Clinton statewide and in Olsen's suburban DuPage district, he is having little discernible, negative impact on Munger's down ballot comptroller contest. This polling phenomenon is also being played out around the country regarding down ticket fights. However, if Trump has a demoralizing impact on GOP voters and turnout sours, then the bottom could indeed fall out for Munger and all sorts of down ballot GOP candidates here - and everywhere.

Stay tuned.

David is president of Illinois Public Opinion Strategies, Inc.

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A Sustainable Food System Could Be A Trillion-Dollar Global Windfall

Thu, 2016-10-20 17:00

Our planet has a very long way to go toward building a food system that is truly and genuinely sustainable, but that work, if done correctly, could come with a massive reward.

That’s the conclusion of a new report released this month by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, an international nonprofit hoping to make a strong bottom-line case for industries to take a more earth-friendly approach to their businesses.

In its flagship report, the commission appears to have done just that.

The report claims that taking a sustainable approach to the world’s food and agriculture challenges, like hunger, food waste and environmental degradation, could lead to new business opportunities totaling an annual $2.3 trillion — and 80 million new jobs — by 2030, based on an analysis of of industry reports and academic literature.

That economic impact would be a sevenfold return on an annual investment of $320 billion, according to the report.

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What exactly is meant by a sustainable approach that could achieve this, though? The approach considered by the report is one outlined by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, or Global Goals, which were released last year with the aim of reducing poverty, hunger and inequality around the world by 2030.

The SDG agenda calls for significant shifts in how our food is produced, processed and sold, including growing and consuming more produce and meats that have a reduced environmental impact, embracing sustainable farming practices like low- and no-till agriculture and reducing food waste at both the production and retail level.

Such shifts, the report’s author Fraser Thompson said, aren’t just “pie-in-the-sky” daydreaming or, as some critics of the SDGs have put it, byproducts of a “worthless” “high school wish list.”

“It is important to stress that our business opportunities are based on currently available technologies where there is an existing model in operation in some part of the world,” Thompson told HuffPost by email. “We deliberately took this approach to ensure that the insights from the report were feasible for business.”

According to the report, these global shifts would have the bulk of their impact in developing countries — over 90 percent of the forecast job creation would take place on the continents of Africa and Asia due to the large share of arable land and high future consumption growth, Thompson said.

But there are significant opportunities for the U.S. to seize as well.

The three top areas for possible economic growth tied to a more sustainable food system in the U.S. are largely focused on the consumption side of the food value chain — reducing consumer food waste, reformulating food products to be healthier, and helping consumers switch their diets away from resource-intensive products like beef and toward other proteins like poultry, pork, fish and vegetarian diets.

There are already promising examples of the sort of sustainable practices the commission would like to see other industry leaders emulate in play throughout the world.

One of them Thompson named is Winnow, a London-based startup that is battling food waste through a “smart meter” that connects commercial kitchen operations to the cloud and allows chefs to record and analyze all the food that doesn’t get put to use.

Chefs then use that information to tweak their production practices and reduce their kitchens’ food waste by 50 percent or more. The company’s work was recognized with a Guardian Sustainable Business award earlier this year.

The key, Thompson argues, to harnessing the impressive windfall they’ve forecast will simply be scaling up ideas like Winnow’s kitchen meter. That will require buy-in from a broad swath of businesses and consumers alike.

BSDC chair Lord Mark Malloch-Brown told HuffPost by email he is hopeful the research presented in the report should help industry players connect the dots.

“It will require hard work by individual entrepreneurs and companies to translate this into specific businesses that earn financial returns in line with the economic opportunity we have identified,” Brown, former UN deputy secretary-general, wrote. “That’s hard long-term work but what we have sought to show is that the prize is worth the effort.”

Still, businesses have been slow to take action toward achieving the SDGs and consumers also appear skeptical, according to recent surveys.

According to Thompson, though, we don’t have much longer to wait before taking action toward meeting the world’s increasing food demands, which the UN has warned will grow by 60 percent in 2050.

“The challenges facing the food system in a ‘business-as-usual’ scenario should not be underestimated,” Thompson added. “Addressing the current undernourished population and the rapid demand for food and feed – and competing demand for fuel – will require a radical rethink of past practices.”

Joseph Erbentraut covers promising innovations and challenges in the areas of food and water. In addition, Erbentraut explores the evolving ways Americans are identifying and defining themselves. Follow Erbentraut on Twitter at @robojojo. Tips? Email

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That Penny Lying On The Ground Could Be Worth $1,000

Thu, 2016-10-20 15:59

Do you ever pick up pennies on the ground? If not, you might want to start.

One hundred “lucky pennies” have been placed on the streets of 10 U.S. cities, with each penny worth a $1,000 prize, Ally Bank has announced.

The unusual contest began on Tuesday and features custom copper-colored discs that look like ordinary U.S. pennies. Each one bears the bank’s lowercase “a” logo and a unique redemption code.

The game pieces have been placed in Austin, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Chicago; Denver; Detroit; Los Angeles; Miami; New York City; San Diego and Washington, D.C.

Ally says the point of the contest is to inspire saving, no matter how small.

“We hope that people will have fun searching for Ally Lucky Pennies in their cities and that the campaign will inspire people to look at money in a different way,” Andrea Riley, Alley’s chief marketing officer, said in a release.

In an effort to help participants, the bank is tweeting out hints for each city.

How to honor the Constitution’s author? With his own NYC park & an #AllyLuckyPenny in it. Rules:

— Ally (@Ally) October 18, 2016

The contest’s official rules note that Ally will leave all the pennies in public places (or participating car dealerships) and in plain sight:

The Sweepstakes is intended to reward eligible participants who are lucky and encounter Ally Lucky Pennies in the course of their regular activities, not to encourage hunting for Ally Lucky Pennies in obscure locations or travel. Automobile dealerships in which Ally Lucky Pennies may be placed by Sponsor will display signage indicating that such dealerships are participating in the Sweepstakes. Except for such automobile dealerships, Ally Lucky Pennies will not be placed by Sponsor in retail stores or on other private property. Sponsor will place the Ally Lucky Pennies in plain sight (such as, by way of illustration only, on a sidewalk in a public park) and will not place Ally Lucky Pennies in areas that members of the public are not generally permitted to enter, or in locations where an Ally Lucky Penny could not be found without extensive searching or the moving of items (by way of example, an Ally Lucky Penny would not be hidden by Sponsor underneath a trash can, or in a storage room or closet, or behind or underneath merchandise on a shelf). Participation in the Sweepstakes does not require, and participants must not engage in, any unsafe, disruptive or unlawful behavior, and participants must not trespass on private property or violate any rules or policies in effect in places where Ally Lucky Pennies may be located.

Anyone who finds one of the pennies has until the end of the year to redeem it through the bank’s website by using the coin’s code.

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Trump Apparently Unaware Chicago's Gun Problems Stem From Indiana

Wed, 2016-10-19 21:21

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WASHINGTON ― Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is no fan of gun control. He said in Wednesday’s debate that Chicago, Illinois, is a perfect example of why it doesn’t work anyway.

“In Chicago, which has the toughest gun laws in the United States ― probably you could say by far ― they have more gun violence than any other city,” Trump said. “So we have the toughest laws, and you have tremendous gun violence.”

But Trump’s take glosses over one of the biggest sources of Chicago’s gun problems: Indiana. The state has lax gun laws, and its proximity to Chicago means people can easily bring illegal guns into the city. Very few crime guns recovered in Chicago have been found to come from federally licensed dealers. Instead, one way these weapons get into the wrong hands is via straw purchases, where one person buys a gun for a person who cannot legally purchase one.

A 2014 report from the Chicago Police Department, for example, found that 60 percent of guns recovered at crime scenes between 2009 and 2013 were originally bought outside of Illinois. Every state in the country contributed at least one gun to a Chicago crime scene. A whopping 20 percent came from Indiana.

In other words, it’s not that Chicago’s gun safety laws have failed. It’s that other states have failed to regulate their own gun sales.

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Religious Group Loses Bid To Bar Trans Students From School Bathrooms

Wed, 2016-10-19 16:28

An Illinois judge recommended the denial of an injunction to bar transgender high school students from using the restrooms and locker rooms of their choice, saying the Constitution does not protect students against having to share those areas with transgender classmates.

The case, centering on William Fremd High School in Palatine, a northwest suburb of Chicago, is one of many across the country challenging the U.S. Department of Education’s policy that transgender students in public schools must be allowed to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choosing.

“High school students do not have a constitutional right not to share restrooms or locker rooms with transgender students whose sex assigned at birth is different than theirs,” U.S. District Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert wrote on Tuesday.

Sharing a locker room or restroom with a transgender student does not create a “severe, pervasive, or objectively offensive hostile environment,” because the school has provided alternative facilities to those who do not wish to share these areas with transgender students and installed privacy curtains in locker room changing areas, he added.

The plaintiffs, a group of five students and their parents, sued the federal government and local school district in May over the school policy, saying the decision to allow transgender students to use the locker rooms and restrooms of their choice infringed on privacy rights.

The group sought an injunction to halt enforcement of the federal government policy in August as the case proceeds.

Federal judge Jorge Alonso will now make a decision on the injunction based on Gilbert’s recommendation.

Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union in Illinois, which is representing three unidentified transgender students and their families, welcomed Gilbert’s decision on Wednesday.

“This is a very good ruling for the federal government, for the school district and for our client,” Yohnka said.

The plaintiffs are represented by the Arizona-based Christian group Alliance for Defending Freedom (ADF).

“Young students should be not be forced into an intimate setting like a locker room with someone of the opposite sex,” the ADF senior counsel Gary McCaleb said in a statement on Tuesday.

The ADF did not immediately respond to request for comment. The group has a similar case ongoing in Minnesota.

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Why A President Trump Would Be A 'Massive Disaster' For U.S. Water

Wed, 2016-10-19 16:07

Donald Trump told a crowd gathered in Lakeland, Florida, last week that he would ensure the United States had “crystal clear, crystal clean” water if he were elected president. 

It’s a promise the Republican presidential nominee has made on the campaign trail many times, but environmental activists don’t think he can deliver on it. 

The Trump campaign hasn’t issued much of a formal platform concerning water policy or the environment in general, and it didn’t respond to The Huffington Post’s request to view any such plans. Trump’s energy plan alludes to making clean water a “priority” but offers little detail on the topic.

Because of this, environmental advocates have had to analyze comments Trump has made during campaign events and television appearances ― and many have concluded that a President Trump could have a devastating impact on the nation’s water quality and overall well-being. 

Some of Trump’s most specific comments on water policy have come in the form of criticizing a rule that would more specifically protect streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Rule, which has been proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, is currently tied up in courts because opponents say overregulates the agricultural industry.

Trump told Farm Futures magazine in September that he would “eliminate” the rule, which he believes is “unconstitutional.” 

Michael Kelly, communications director at Clean Water Action, a national environmental advocacy group, said Trump’s promise to ax the Clean Water Rule is deeply troubling. Streams are a source of drinking water for 117 million Americans, the EPA estimates. 

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Trump’s other, more vague comments on a number of water-related issues have been raising eyebrows among environmental groups for some time.  

In May, the businessman told a crowd of supporters in Fresno, California, that “there is no drought.” His solution to the state’s water scarcity? To, simply, “start opening up the water.” (The drought, it should be noted, is very much real.)

Trump told the Detroit News in September that the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, “would have never happened” if he were president, but he offered no details on why that was the case.

Flint residents were deeply skeptical of Trump’s motivation when he visited the city this fall. And later that day, the candidate joked before a crowd in Canton, Ohio: “It used to be cars were made in Flint, and you couldn’t drink the water in Mexico. Now, the cars are made in Mexico, and you can’t drink the water in Flint!” 

Trump has also repeatedly stated that he intends to dismantle the EPA, the federal agency that writes and enforces regulations intended to keep America’s water “crystal clean,” as it were. (An expert in environmental law has called this proposal a “ridiculous idea.”)

And he has indicated that he does not believe in climate change, an issue that is linked to water issues like droughts and infrastructure challenges.

Peter Gleick, co-founder of the Pacific Institute and a prominent water and climate analyst, said such comments are alarmingly uninformed.

“His statements about water, such as they are, have been either simple platitudes or policy ‘dog whistles’ to his base,” Gleick wrote in an email to HuffPost. “Given what we’ve seen so far, I think it safe to assume that a Trump presidency would be a massive disaster to local, national, and global environmental health.” 

I think it safe to assume that a Trump presidency would be a massive disaster to local, national and global environmental health.
Peter Gleick, co-founder of the Pacific Institute

Kelly, from Clean Water Action, is also alarmed by Trump’s zeal for gutting the EPA. The agency has already been the subject of budget cuts and is at its lowest staffing level since 1989.

“If you attack the EPA any more, it’s going to be impossible to actually enforce laws like the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act,” Kelly said. “The EPA keeps getting squeezed every year, and that impacts their ability to go out and do what it needs to do.” 

The EPA has received a great deal of criticism from both conservative-leaning policymakers and liberal-leaning environmental groups for its role in the water crisis in Flint. However, Erik Olson, a senior adviser to the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund, emphasized that cutting the agency altogether would put more communities at risk because a lack of regulatory oversight and support for infrastructure maintenance can make problems like water contamination grow exponentially.

Local utilities, already straining in many cases to adequately maintain their water systems, would struggle to keep up, putting peoples’ health at risk. 

“It’s completely illogical and contradictory,” Olson said. “You can’t slash the EPA’s budget and the investments in our water infrastructure and on one hand say we’re going to have ‘crystal clear water.’ The two don’t add up.”

Ultimately, Olson added, Trump’s comments on water have had more to do with grabbing headlines than anything else. And that’s not a good sign for our environmental health.

“The Trump campaign seems to really be looking for soundbite answers to problems that require real solutions,” Olson added. “But there’s nothing in his statements that back up his claim [that he wants clean water]. Everything he’s proposing is going is exactly the opposite direction.”

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly
political violence
and is a href=""> style="font-weight: 400;">serial liar, href="http://www.huffingtonpost
.com/entry/9-outrageous-things-donald-trump-has-said-about-latinos_55e483a1e4b0c818f618904b"> style="font-weight: 400;">rampant xenophobe
.com/entry/donald-trump-racist-examples_us_56d47177e4b03260bf777e83"> ">racist, .com/entry/18-real-things-donald-trump-has-said-about-women_us_55d356a8e4b07addcb442023"> style="font-weight: 400;">misogynist and href=""> >birther who has
repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from
entering the U.S.

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Sunshine in Chicago: Don't Write Mayor Emanuel's Political Obituary Yet

Mon, 2016-10-17 11:04

According to local legend, Richard J. Daley, the Mayor of Chicago from 1955 to 1976, was once told that a group of experts had concluded that American cities had become ungovernable. Daley allegedly replied, "What the hell do the experts know?"

The conventional narrative about Chicago today is that the Windy City and its restless mayor, Rahm Emanuel, have been on the ropes, pummeled by a rising murder rate, financial challenges, frustrated teachers, and defensive cops in denial over continuing revelations of brutality and abuse. But the experts writing Emanuel's political obituary may yet prove wrong.

On Monday, October 10, just minutes before a midnight deadline, the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union reached agreement on a four-year teacher contract, narrowly averting a strike that would have paralyzed the city and escalated frustration among parents, teachers and taxpayers.

The next morning, Mayor Emanuel announced a 2017 budget that, in his words, brings the city out from under, "The black cloud of insolvency threatening the retirements of city employees and the financial future of Chicago."

Following record property tax increases, the budget is largely free of one-time revenue sources and other budgetary gimmicks that have contributed to structural deficits each year. The budget secures pensions for teachers, police officers, firefighters and other city employees, makes a down payment on hiring 970 additional police officers over the next two years, and includes a host of neighborhood investments spread across the city's 50 wards.

Earlier this month, the Chicago City Council passed a package of reforms aimed at bringing more accountability and transparency to the police department. The reform package came several months after the adoption of a broad set of recommendations to improve training and oversight in the department.

By the way, the Chicago Cubs have the best record in baseball and they are tied with the Dodgers in the National League playoffs after beating the San Francisco Giants in the Division Series.

It's an open question whether the African-American community will be assuaged by Emanuel's police reforms. Success depends much more on whether rank and file patrol officers change the way they do their jobs than on anything the mayor says or does.

It also remains to be seen whether Mayor Emanuel and his new police chief, Eddie Johnson, can reduce the gang violence that has Chicago on track to its highest murder rate in 20 years. In raw numbers, Chicago leads the nation in murders, but crime now appears to be on the rise again in other cities after more than a decade of decline. Chicago may have just been ahead of the curve.

Nevertheless, Chicago is in a much stronger position today than it was last November when a judge forced the release of a video showing a Chicago police officer shooting an unarmed Black youth 16 times. While police-community relations are hurting, neighborhood leaders recognize that police can't effectively curb gang violence without the help of the community. The "code of silence" in the police department that the mayor called out in a speech last December is equally prevalent in the community, where trust in law enforcement remains at a deficit.

On other fronts, the school district recently announced nation-leading gains in student test scores and a rising high school graduation rate. Whole Foods opened a new grocery story in one of the most troubled neighborhoods of the city. Wilson Sporting Goods is moving its corporate office and 400 jobs to Chicago and McDonald's is relocating 2000 corporate office jobs from the suburbs to the city.

Emanuel's former boss and friend Barack Obama is planning to spend $800 million building a library on the South Side after leaving the White House. Another longtime friend, Hillary Clinton, looks increasingly likely to take Obama's place. It never hurts to have friends in high places.

The jury is still out on Chicago under Mayor Emanuel, who emerges from a dark and difficult period with some real progress to show and, with two-and-a-half years left in his current term, plenty of time to notch a few more wins.

Now, if only those Cubs can bring home the World Series.

This post originally appeared on Education Post.

Photo by Daniel X. O'Neil, CC-licensed.

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Bears And Jaguars Fans Fight Viciously Over Pretty Much Nothing

Mon, 2016-10-17 09:57

The Chicago Bears did not prevail Sunday ― and neither did fans’ common sense.

After a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a fight started between a Bears supporter (likely angry over his team’s 17-16 home loss) and some Jaguars faithful. Yikes.

The Bears fan can be seen telling off Jaguars fans in a video of the altercation before punching one challenger in the face. Two men apparently associated with the Jaguars guy then gang up on the Bears fan and kick him in the head as the original challenger joins in.

This will look great for your next job interview, fellas.

The things that happen after a bears lost...

— David (@DavidSharp_11) October 16, 2016

Not to mention that such behavior can have serious legal and physical consequences.


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Most Farmers Still Doubt They Have Anything To Do With Climate Change

Fri, 2016-10-14 11:30

To say it’s been a busy harvest season for North Carolina farmer Peyton McDaniel would be an incredible understatement.

It’s been several days since Hurricane Matthew brought heavy rains to the state that killed at least 22 people, but farmers throughout eastern North Carolina and other regions the storm impacted are still racing to salvage as much of their crops as they can and minimize their losses.

For McDaniel, that’s meant a typical five- or six-day work week at his family’s 2,000-acre farm operation in the town of Whitakers has become a round-the-clock, seven-day affair marked by 18-hour work days navigating muddy fields and flooded roads. The 26-year-old is exhausted.

All the extra rainfall caused many of McDaniel’s crops, like his cotton and peanuts, to germinate early. He expects both crops to take a major hit due to the storm. He also anticipates that his sweet potatoes, still submerged in muck, to suffer immensely. If they stay there too long, they’ll rot.

“Right now, we’re doing the best we can,” McDaniel told The Huffington Post by phone Thursday. “This year might not be the year that everybody is running to the bank, but the bank may be running after you.”

McDaniel is not alone. It is also feared that millions of livestock have died in storm-related flooding. And state agriculture officials expect the impact of the storm will be felt for some time to come, causing millions of dollars in losses.

Hurricane Matthew is just one of many extreme weather events that has had a tremendous effect on U.S. farmers’ operations this year.

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In the Northeast region, farmers have struggled with the worst drought they’ve seen in more than a decade. Historic flooding in southeast Louisiana caused an estimated $110 million in agriculture losses. And farmers in California are still dealing with the ongoing drought as it enters its sixth year, costing the state’s industry some $600 million this year.

While no one weather event can be directly tied to climate change, an increasing number of scientists are describing a link between our warming planet and extreme weather like droughts and floods. 

A report released last fall from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine claimed that climate change is making events like these both more common and more extreme. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration came to a similar conclusion in its analysis of 2014 extreme weather and climate events.

For his part, McDaniel doesn’t think climate change had anything to do with the devastation brought to his farm. His family has been farming its land since 1756 and has seen all sorts of weather across all those decades, he noted.

“I don’t think you can point to global warming or a manmade problem on this,” McDaniel added. “It’s more of a cyclical thing.”

The minimal amount of existing research on the topic shows that most farmers would probably agree with McDaniel, even though their industry is both uniquely vulnerable to extreme weather and a significant source of climate change-causing greenhouse gases.

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Many farmers would agree that weather patterns are changing and extreme weather is increasing, but most don’t think these have anything to do with human activities, according to Dr. J. Gordon Arbuckle Jr., a sociology professor at Iowa State University.

“Farmers in general are taking extreme weather more seriously,” said Arbuckle, who has interviewed and polled farmers in the Corn Belt region on the issue. “But most of them are more in line with there maybe being a human cause, but probably some natural cause to it.”

That could be changing, at least slowly. A 2011 poll of Iowa farmers found only 11 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that climate change is occurring and “is caused mostly by human activities.” Two years later, the poll asked the same question and found that 16 percent of respondents agreed

Many farmers are also warming up to agricultural practices like cover crops and reduced tillage that not only make their farms more resilient to extreme weather, but can also reduce greenhouse gases

In Iowa, farmer participation in conservation and pollution reduction programs aimed at encouraging these types of practices is on the rise. The number of cover crops planted in Iowa increased 35 percent last year, for example. 

Progress can also be seen through initiatives like the Risky Business Project, which has seen global agribusiness firms like Cargill partner to support research into the relationship between climate change and agribusiness in the Midwest. 

“It’s coming along but, perhaps like it is in all sectors of society, it could happen a lot faster and probably needs to happen a lot faster,” Arbuckle said.

Some national farm groups have been slow to address the issue.

American Farm Bureau, the nation’s largest farm organization, has expressed skepticism about the impact U.S. action on climate change would have on global temperature or extreme weather events and is opposed to any efforts to regulate the industry’s emissions. The Farm Bureau did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment for this story.

Other organizations are taking a more proactive approach. The National Farmers Union, a group representing some 200,000 farms throughout the country, maintains a Climate Leaders hub. It shares resources on climate change with its member farmers and encourages farmers to consider adopting more “climate-smart” practices. 

Thomas Driscoll, the union’s director of conservation policy and education, admits that many farmers remain hesitant to discuss climate change openly.

But shifting the conversation away from that particular term, he believes, can still have a similar outcome of encouraging some of those practices without alienating farmers who aren’t on board with the climate science. 

“We find more and more that focusing on trends in weather and talking about disaster-resilient farming is more effective than talking about ‘climate change,’” Driscoll told HuffPost.

But in the longer haul, Driscoll believes it’s important to name the problem exactly what it is. And there’s still some way to go on that front.

“Where you can, you really need to get the full climate message across,” Driscoll said “and then we’ll be able to take a more holistic approach and work with the whole picture, rather than just treating the symptoms.”

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