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Surrogate Mom Saves 6-Orphaned Puppies

Thu, 2016-01-21 13:44

Sometimes in our darkest moments a light suddenly appears.

On a very hectic Saturday morning at Animal Medical Center of Chicago, a recently rescued pregnant pit bull came to see me with a 24- hour history of labored breathing and restless behavior. This young pit bull, newly named Hallie, was in labor and could not successfully deliver her puppies on her own. On physical examination, Hallie appeared to be in relatively good body condition with an abnormal vaginal discharge. An abdominal radiograph was taken and revealed at least 6 puppies in a greatly distended uterus. Given Hallie's 24-hour history of a non-productive labor and concern for a uterine tract infection, I recommended a caesarian section.

Hallie was immediately transferred to a local specialty practice for her surgical procedure. A few hours later, I learned that the caesarian section went well- seven puppies successfully delivered and the mother was recovering nicely from anesthesia. The surgeon informed me that one puppy was tightly wedged against the wall of the mother's cervix and had some purulent material around her face.

The following day, I called the specialty practice to see how Hallie and her puppies were doing. To my shock, the receptionist told me that the mother died of cardiac arrest a few hours after recovering from anesthesia and one puppy died shortly thereafter.

I immediately contacted the rescue organization and expressed my heartfelt condolences on the loss of Hallie and her one puppy. I told Kristen Gerali, the Founder and President of Alive Rescue, that Hallie's death was tragic and truly unexpected but we should be thankful that she lived to deliver 6 healthy puppies.

Overwhelmed by the prospect of hand feeding 6-orphaned puppies, Kristen and Alive Rescue volunteers used social media to locate supplies and volunteers to nurse these puppies. Fortunately, another rescue organization, called Wagging Hearts Rescue, contacted them and told them they may have a surrogate mom, named Trixie, for the puppies. Around seven weeks ago, Trixie gave birth to a litter of puppies and was still lactating. Given Trixie's sweet disposition, this rescue group thought she might be receptive to raising these 6-orphaned puppies.

Just 36 hours after their birth, these puppies were off to meet their potential surrogate mother, Trixie. With in seconds of meeting Trixie, everyone knew that she was capable and receptive to taking on the responsibilities of feeding and caring for the orphaned puppies. Upon seeing the puppies, Trixie slowly lowered herself down onto the floor and allowed the puppies to latch onto her. I only wish I was there to witness this beautiful sight of 6-hungry puppies happily nursing.

Yesterday, I met Trixie and the 6-orphaned puppies. It brought tears to my eyes to watch the puppies nurse off of Trixie and to see how proud she was of her new role as a surrogate mom. She was gentle and relaxed with the puppies! This pairing was definitely a stroke of genius and good fortune!

I do not want Hallie's dreadful time on the streets and death to be forgotten. What a tragedy for a lovely young dog to be wandering the streets of Chicago in search of food and shelter. When I first looked into Hallie's eyes, I immediately sensed an old soul with a gentle heart. I strongly suspect her owner, careless with her life, abandoned her. Tossing Hallie onto the streets to fend for herself and her unborn puppies was a cruel act. I wished this person had taken her to a local animal shelter to be properly cared for. In Chicago, Animal Care and Control, at 2741 South Western Avenue, receives strays or owner relinquished pets every day from 8 am to 10 pm. They can be reached at 1.312.747.1406.

Fortunately, an Alive Rescue volunteer captured Hallie just two days before she went into labor. I wish Hallie had survived to see her puppies and experience the warmth and love of a new home. With the help of Alive Rescue, Hallie did not have an agonizing death alone on the streets and was strong enough to successfully give birth to 6 healthy puppies. I'm very proud to have witnessed this series of events and the commitment of so many animal lovers to right a wrong.

All three events -the rescue of Hallie, the survival of 6 puppies and the timely appearance of Trixie - demonstrate how a community of animal lovers can make a difference. Alive Rescue now needs your help! If you'd like to donate supplies, your time, or in a few months, adopt Trixie or one of the puppies, please contact Alive Rescue at 773.913.8100. If you'd like to donate to the Hallie fund, visit https://www/ Now is your time to make a difference in your community!

Dr. Donna Solomon is a veterinarian at Animal Medical Center of Chicago and invites you to email her your questions or future topic ideas to

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This Drastic Proposal Shows What Dire Straits Chicago Schools Are In

Wed, 2016-01-20 20:49

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Nearly three years after the single largest school closing in history, the Chicago Public School system is facing another budget crisis so massive, some state lawmakers are suggesting a state takeover and even bankruptcy. 

Backed by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, Illinois state Republicans on Wednesday made an aggressive proposal that would wrest control of Chicago's financially troubled school system from the city and hand it over to the state-selected board of managers. 

CPS faces sinking bond ratings and more than $1 billion in debt for the 2016 fiscal year, largely due to a massive $676 million pension liability.

During a joint press conference Wednesday, state Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin characterized their proposal as a "lifeline" for the CPS financial system they said was "near collapse." 

“We don’t come to this position lightly,” Radogno said. “But the track record of Chicago and its public school system is abysmal."

The proposal would include Chicago in a state law -- from which it is currently exempt -- that allows a state-appointed board to take over for the mayor's hand-picked Chicago Board of Education and effectively run the district until it's financially stable. The five- to seven-member board would also negotiate with the teachers union but "cannot unilaterally cancel or modify existing collective bargaining agreements."  

State Democrats, who hold a supermajority in both chambers, strongly oppose the idea. Senate President John Cullerton was blunt: "This is not going to happen," the Chicago Democrat told the Associated Press Wednesday. 

Similarly, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Teachers Union -- two parties that almost never see eye-to-eye -- shot back at the proposal with digs at Rauner's inability to pass a state budget. Illinois has been without a budget since last July. 

The CTU pegged the proposal to Rauner and called it "just the latest example of the ‘bull in a china shop’ methods in which [the governor] clumsily attempts to lead."

Emanuel, who was in D.C. for a conference, said through a spokeswoman that he was "100 percent opposed" to the plan. 

"If the governor was serious about helping Chicago students, he should start by proposing -- and passing -- a budget that fully funds education and treats CPS students like every other child in the state," said Emanuel spokeswoman Kelley Quinn.

In addition to being excluded from the state law that allows independent takeover of failing school districts, Chicago's school system is also excluded from the state fund that pays into teacher pensions. As a result, CPS receives just a fraction of state pension funding compared to other districts. 

Though the Republican-backed legislation is unlikely to pass in a Democrat-controlled legislature, if it succeeded it would not be the first time CPS's finances were handed to an oversight board. In 1980, lawmakers created the Chicago School Finance Authority with appointees by both the mayor and the governor, according to Catalyst Chicago. 

Wednesday's proposal is just the latest in a string of hardships and scandals the school district has faced since the massive school closing in 2013: The shutterings forced hundreds of CPS students to take longer, often more dangerous routes to their new schools; enrollment has dropped; the former schools chief was indicted on bribery and a kickback scheme; and needy students lost out on untold dollars worth of perfectly good school supplies from the shuttered schools due to poor record-keeping. 

Due to its looming debt, CPS also is facing midyear layoffs and another potential teachers strike. Meanwhile, even more schools could close this year in a district that comprises mostly low-income black and Latino children

Also on HuffPost:

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Greatest Hits: 10 Notable Episodes From The First 10 Years Of Dynasty Podcasts

Wed, 2016-01-20 16:38
Back in summer of 2005, I launched Dynasty Podcasts as Chicago's first ever and longest-running music podcast. Over the last ten years, I've been fortunate enough to conduct interviews with some genuinely remarkable artists and industry figures from the Chicago music community. What follows are ten episodes of Dynasty Podcasts from the last ten years that stand out to me for one reason or another. From Metro owner Joe Shanahan to Flosstradamus to The Lawrence Arms and more. Enjoy!

(Photo: Joe Mazza/BraveLux)

Joe Shanahan (Metro Chicago)
In 2012, Chicago's iconic Metro concert hall celebrated its 30th anniversary. To mark the occasion, Dynasty Podcasts visited venue founder and owner Joe Shanahan at a visual retrospective for the venue held in a Chicago Loop event space. Joined by graphic designer Ryne Estwing, Shanahan reflect on the venue's past three decades, recalling relationships with legacy artists like R.E.M. and The Smashing Pumpkins. For an enhanced version of this interview, check out the short film edition, featuring posters, passes, and other memorabilia from Metro's historic archives.

Gabe McDonough
Chicago music licensing operation Music Dealers has been a longtime supporter of Dynasty Podcasts, and in fall of 2013, the music company partnered with the podcast for a live industry discussion with then-VP, Music Director at Leo Burnett, Gabe McDonough. Over the course of 45 minutes, McDonough spoke at length about the intersection of music and advertising, as well as shedding light on how artists can pursue music licensing opportunities and the potential for monetization.

(Photo: Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images)

Billy Corgan (The Smashing Pumpkins)
Since the end of 2011, The Smashing Pumpkins have been reissuing their classic albums in chronological order. In the summer of 2014, the reissue of 1998's experimental effort Adore and the then-forthcoming full length Monuments to an Elegy were both on the horizon. At a coffee shop in the northern suburbs of Chicago, Corgan opened up about simultaneously living in the past, present, and future of the Smashing Pumpkins all at once. The Pumpkins frontman also shed light on his decision to open up his songbook from all eras of his work for upcoming live events.

Joe Trohman (Fall Out Boy)
When pop punk juggernaut Fall Out Boy took a hiatus in 2009, there were more questions than answers, with little concrete info to be found. Which made the inclusion of FOB guitarist Joe Trohman in a Morrissey tribute set in December of that year alongside Chicago music icons like Bob Nanna and Mike Kinsella all the more surprising. Recorded in the upstairs green room of Subterranean, Trohman opens up about stepping out of his comfort zone after the initial and nonstop advent of Fall Out Boy, as well as speaking candidly about the band's break.

While Chicago boys made good Flosstradamus are now regularly spreading the HDYBYZ and HDYGRLZ gospel all over the world, in November of 2011, the duo were in Chicago for an EP release show at Lincoln Hall. In an interview recorded backstage at the Lincoln Park venue, Floss' Josh Young and Curt Cameruci open up about their Midwestern work ethic and reflect on the group's culture during their earliest days.

Tim McIlrath (Rise Against)
For Record Store Day 2010, Rise Against frontman Tim McIlrath made a visit to Reckless Records in the Loop, where he found time for a quick chat with Dynasty Podcasts. There, McIlrath recalled the suburban Chicago record stores where he discovered pre-grunge punk acts like Minor Threat and Fugazi--purchases that would play no small part in influencing the sound and direction of Rise Against.

Kill Hannah
Chicago's infamous glam-rock institution Kill Hannah recently closed out their career with a string of farewell shows both at home and abroad in December of last year. But back in December of 2012, the group's Mat Devine, Dan Wiese, Greg Corner, Elias Mallin, and Jonny Radtke gathered at JBTV to answer audience questions as part of that year's New Heart for Christmas holiday event. The discussion is noteworthy if for no other reason than the fact that it's a rare occurrence to get a full lineup of Kill Hannah in the same room and all on mics at the same time, given how many of the group's (now former) members live out of state these days.

Celine Neon

Chicago electro pop act Celine Neon has been making noise across the city lately, from theatrical live shows to their recently released Kitty EP. In the upstairs green room of Subterranean in March of 2015, the duo of Emily Nejad and Maggie Kubley brought their trademark snark and effortless interplay to Dynasty Podcasts for an interview around the release of their self-titled debut EP. What followed was a discussion ranging from more serious subjects like the building of their brand, to the reveling in the celebration of all things BILF.

(Photo: Ben Pier)

The Lawrence Arms
The Lawrence Arms have always been one of Chicago's strongest and most underrated punk rock offerings, responsible for classic efforts like 2003's The Greatest Story Ever Told. Yet 2014's Metropole came almost a decade after the group's prior full length: 2006's Oh! Calcutta!. In an interview backstage at Metro in summer of 2014, vocalists Chris McCaughan and Brendan Kelly weighed in on the break between records, sharing how the band's hiatus helped their creative process.

At Spring Awakening 2012, Krewella was a up-and-coming act starting to make noise in the Chicago underground and on forward-thinking music blogs. Backstage at the annual EDM fest, frontwomen Jahan and Yasmine Yousaf and former member Kris "Rain Man" Trindl spoke excitedly about their festival set, in addition to sharing thoughts on their then-forthcoming debut EP, Play Hard. An early glimpse into Krewella just before they broke through.

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Year in Review: An Analysis of Rauner's Top 5 Statements From the 2015 State of the State Address

Wed, 2016-01-20 11:04
On Jan. 12, 2015, Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered an inaugural address that was a call to action for shared sacrifice to right the state's finances and, in turn, its economy.

"Each person here today and all those throughout the state will be called upon to share in the sacrifice so that one day we can again share in Illinois's prosperity," Rauner told the crowd at Springfield's Prairie Capital Convention Center.

Three weeks later, Rauner delivered his 2015 State of the Address, and added specifics to the theme he had introduced in his inaugural speech. The plans he laid out were ambitious and, considering the super-majority Democratic makeup of the General Assembly he was addressing, audacious.

But ambition and audacity don't always equate to accomplishment. With Rauner's 2016 State of the State Address a week away, it's a good time to review Rauner's Top 5 statements from his 2015 speech. Analyzing last year's speech, I offered between-the-lines explanations of the quotes. With nearly a year's worth of hindsight to our advantage, let's take a look at what those quotes mean today.

5. "Our top priority must be making Illinois competitive again, to grow more jobs here. To become more competitive we must look to the structural impediments to our economic growth. Our workers compensation, unemployment insurance and liability costs all rank among the worst in America."

  • Illinois businesses still complain of inordinately high workers' compensation costs, but Rauner's call to reform the system by applying a higher standard of proof to employees who claim on-the-job injury hit a brick wall with Democrats. This has been the piece of evidence Madigan has cited most often when claiming that Rauner's reforms would harm the middle class. Where Rauner and other business advocates see this as a reform that would correct a system that now favors workers, Madigan believes it would result in more injured workers seeking medical care in emergency rooms and, ultimately, on public assistance. Democrats have said for years that a 2011 workers' compensation overhaul still is bringing costs down, though at a slower pace than expected.

  • A new unemployment insurance law allows employers to deny unemployment claims by workers fired for lying on job applications, destroying company property, endangering the safety of co-workers and using drugs or alcohol and on the job. The bill passed with bipartisan support and was lauded by both business and labor groups.

  • Rauner's reference to "liability costs" is aimed at what he believes is an overly plaintiff-friendly civil court system in Illinois that results in too many frivolous lawsuits. (Scroll to page 7 of Rauner's Illinois Turnaround agenda for more.) This was a call on Democrats to cross one of their main allies, trial lawyers, and no legislation advanced on this topic.

Head over to Reboot Illinois for the rest of Dietrich's analysis.

NEXT ARTICLE: Rauner seeks impasse judgment on AFSCME contract; could lead to state worker strike

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Commission Proposes 14 Recommendations for Illinois Prison Reform

Tue, 2016-01-19 10:49

A commission created last year by way of executive order by Gov. Bruce Rauner released its first set of recommendations that aim to reduce the prison population in the Illinois Department of Corrections by 25 percent over the next decade.

The Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform last week presented Rauner with 14 proposals in the first part of its final report. The Commission's proposals revolve around four main goals laid out in the governor's Feb. 11 executive order: ensuring the lawfulness of sentencing and programming, reducing the number of prison admissions, reducing the length of prison stays and reducing recidivism by increasing the chances of successful reintegration into society.

From the report:

Echoing national trends, Illinois' rate of incarceration, even when controlling for population growth, has increased more than 500 percent in the last forty years, with a disproportionate impact on the State's poor, mostly minority, citizens. Today, Illinois prisons are operating at roughly 150 percent of design capacity, and, at the beginning of 2015, housed 48,278 inmates, most of whom were sentenced for non-violent offenses. Nearly all of these prisoners will eventually return to their communities, and about half will be re-incarcerated within the following three years.

Rauner said some of the recommendations outlined in the report can be implemented by his administration without approval from state lawmakers. Reforms that would require the passage of legislation should garner bipartisan support, he added, though some may be controversial, especially in an election year.

Here are brief summaries of the 14 recommendations listed in the Commission's initial report.

NEXT ARTICLE: Think the Illinois budget crisis isn't having an effect? Then you need to see this...

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A National Service Act for the 21st Century

Mon, 2016-01-18 12:47
Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King's Legacy of Service by Empowering All Young Americans to Serve their Country

"Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is... above all a day of service.

- Coretta Scott King

Almost 60 years ago in Montgomery, Alabama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., asked the congregation at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church what he considered life's most persistent and urgent question: "what are you doing for others?"

Today, thousands of Americans will do their part to answer his question by donating their time serving others, participating in projects to improve communities and neighborhoods throughout the nation. It is fitting that we honor Dr. King's legacy with a national day of service -- and I look forward to joining my neighbors this morning in volunteering to improve an inner-city Chicago public school -- but, as a society, we can do better than one single day of service.

I consider myself lucky to have been born into a family that valued service to both one's country and one's community. Whether defending our nation as a Black Hawk pilot abroad or serving our Veterans and those in need at home, my life has been enriched by the opportunities I've had to serve my country and fellow citizens, both in and out of uniform.

And while most Americans are aware of the opportunity to serve their country in the military, far fewer know of their options when it comes to civilian national service -- but that service is also valuable; it also helps build a stronger nation.

Worse still, those who do seek to serve through AmeriCorps programs such as City Year, Habitat for Humanity and Teach for America are too often deprived of the chance to do so. These programs simply do not have adequate funding to extend volunteer opportunities to everyone who wants one. By failing to recognize the value this branch of service provides our nation or sufficiently supporting the organizations that make it possible, we have allowed our civilian national service system to become an exclusive institution that accepts Americans seeking to serve at rates comparable to an Ivy League university. This is unacceptable and we are better than that as a nation.

Imagine the impact the community organizations that President George H. W. Bush called our "thousand points of light" could have if they were finally empowered to shine brightly. Imagine what our nation could look like if all these good people -- who are generously willing to donate their time and efforts to beautify cities, improve run-down school buildings, educate our children and fill countless other unfilled roles -- were finally given the chance to do so.

In the coming weeks, I plan to introduce legislation to empower all Americans -- regardless of race, ethnicity, income or background -- to serve their country and fellow citizens, just as I have been lucky enough to do. My proposal would establish a uniquely American national service program that is both universal in scope and fully voluntary. My hope is to build a program that enables any American willing to stand up and give back to their country that opportunity.

I know from personal experience that engaging with your community and helping others helps foster a sense of shared sacrifice and -- at a time when our politics seem more focused on tearing us apart than bringing us together -- that shared sacrifice will help us rekindle the national unity that has made us the strongest nation in the world.

We should feel a similar sense of national pride for those willing to volunteer their time that we feel for those willing to risk life and limb, and we should encourage citizens to serve not just in the military but also in our cities and neighborhoods.

The AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps team that recently deployed to Flint, Michigan to help address that community's dangerous water emergency is a real world example of how those committed to national service can be a force for good in our communities and affect real change in American lives.

My 21st Century American Service Act builds on the existing infrastructure built by long-time champions of national service President Bill Clinton and former Senator Edward Kennedy to remove limitations that lead to so many Americans being turned away and ensure that all young Americans have the chance to give back. By dramatically lowering the barriers to participating in national service and expanding the network of quality volunteer opportunities, our nation can address important national priorities and promote a sense of shared purpose among the citizenry, at a time when less than one percent of Americans are serving in uniform.

Those who put their lives on the line overseas are undoubtedly American heroes, but it's time for us to remember that those who serve in civilian life also embody the American spirit and are worthy of our praise as well. So let's treat them like the heroes they are and finally give them the chance they deserve to prove it. With my new legislation, let's take a step toward building a new national service program for the 21st century.

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Dr. Martin Luther King in Winnetka

Mon, 2016-01-18 10:22
I was 8 years old. Dr. King still had about three more years of work to do before he'd be shot on the balcony of a motel in Memphis. Gun shots that would set angry fires blazing and police sirens wailing pain in almost every big city in America and then land him squarely in the history books forever and a day.

He would be speaking in our village. And this was really different from anywhere else he had ever done his work.

My family and I were walking to the "Village Green" to listen. A square block of open green near the downtown section of town where I walked with my Dad every Saturday morning to do errands. But this walk was different. It all seemed in slow motion. Nothing even close to this had ever happened here before. The population of the village was 13,000. By days end the crowd to just see him was put at 10,000.

I keep saying "Village"

Back then you could almost call it a village. Just 100 years before that day he spoke; it was a General Store on the Green Bay trail. A sprinkling of cabins in the woods, next to the giant, wild inland Lake Michigan on a road just named for Philip Sheridan, the Union General, friend of US Grant, who not too many years earlier had told his boss Abraham Lincoln: "Give me the troops and the guns," and then had gone off hell bent after Robert E. Lee.

Into the 20th century when the river of money began flowing north from Chicago; and the big F. Scott Fitzgerald houses came to own the Lake Michigan Shoreline; the cabins and the trading post gone now---and you had to go even further north up towards Milwaukee, up to where the author Ray Bradbury staked out the overgrown deep green ravines and dandelion wine summers of his childhood to find the traces of wildness that once roamed the woods of our little village.

Bradbury called the little town he came from---about 10 or 15 miles due north of our village--he called it Greentown, Illinois. And from Greentown Illinois, Ray Bradbury would say "Give me the pencil and paper. Because I can tell a story."

Green Town Illinois just up the road from us where Jack Benny would first hone his craft saying "Give me a microphone. Because I can make you laugh."

Benny and Bradbury off to larger stages; but there was still a feel of a village on that slow motion July day when the families all walked hesitantly, almost gingerly, up to the green to hear the speech. Looked at from an aerial view filtered through the lens of a sociologist; at that point in time: this was a middle class awakening suburb with a string of massive wealth that ran along that same Lake Michigan shoreline. These weren't homes. These were estates. Everybody else---like us--had a house. And everybody else was--like us---very, very white. As Caucasian as could be.

Now the town is just another suburb where kids, some of color, drive their own BMW's and Mercedes to high school.

But back then it still had echoes of the small town village it once was. Walking up to the town square that day could have been something lifted straight from a Frank Capra movie with Jimmy Stewart coming home from the war being the featured speaker.

And not the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.

There wasn't a lot of talking in our family as we walked up to the Green. My Uncle Frank, a true Chicago, new deal, Stevenson should have gotten it, intellectual guy who was a college administrator AND an old line liberal Democrat who also had a Purple Heart from WW II---did most of the talking. (This is back before the idea that liberals could be war heroes too had been erased from our collective national consciousness.) Uncle Frank was pretty excited. So was my Mom. My Dad, who was often mistaken for a CIA agent when my parents went to anti-war rallies--was quiet---preferring to wait for some facts.

I was a skinny, crew cut, big headed kid in a wide stripped t-shirt tossing a baseball up and down who looked a little like an extra on the set of "Leave it to Beaver."

And so because this was a village. And because I've always had this curiosity about the way things work ---when we got to the Green and my Mom put down a blanket--it was no surprise when I said, "I'm going to go look around!" And my Mom said, "Make sure you're back before he starts to speak! And I said, "OK Bye!"

The afternoon had started to build to this sort of cautious festival feeling. There were folk singers. A warm-up speaker or two---all of whom Uncle Frank had talked about or knew. The crowd was building steadily

Perfect for the little stripe shirted, story telling boy, me--- to go practice something he still does: being invisible.

Quiet children who don't want to be seen have ways of blending into the background so that even the most observant of adults would have to do a double take to make sure they saw a kid over there.

So that's what I did.

Being invisible does not mean being still. "Still" prompts suspicion. ("How come that kid over there ain't moving!"?)

So what I would do to keep moving but still stay invisible was to toss my baseball up to about face level, and let it plop down in my mitt. All the grownups would see the baseball; but I was invisible. I could watch and hear everything they said.

Up near the front of the crowd, behind the podium and microphone was where I felt drawn. A thicker, deeper crowd there. Easier to get lost. More policemen than I had every seen so it had to be safe. My Dad and Mom wouldn't mind.

Everyone seemed to be waiting for him. For "Martin Luther King." Everyone said the name as if it were all one word. "MartinLutherKing."

I stayed there in the middle of all this waiting part of the crowd. And the longer I stayed, the more invisible I became, I began to hear a word repeated I hadn't heard at all from Uncle Frank on the walk up to the big show.

I'd catch the word at the end of sentence---because the emotion of the sentence was put on the one word. The word was "arrogant." I thought I knew what it meant. But I didn't hear the word a lot---if ever--so I wasn't sure.

I'd hear the word, laden with some sort of emotion. Then I'd see the same kind of look my parents would give each other when they wanted to communicate something unpleasant without using words. That knowing arch of the eyebrow.


I might have even heard somebody say "uppity." That, I understood.

I was about to go back to our family blanket, when I saw the cars. And the cars held me riveted. There were SEVEN of them. All the biggest, blackest, shiniest Cadillac limousines---bigger than any car I'd ever seen driven by the rich people who lived on Sheridan Road. My eyes rounding up to become as big as my head. Cars were almost as interesting as baseball. I knew I supposed to be back with my parents---I was a kid who pretty much did what he was told--so I knew I probably should go back. But these were really, cool, cars! And I could slip back through the crowd like lightening once this enormous parade of black sheet metal rolled to a stop. I could not get my little 8 year old brain wrapped around the questions:

"Why does MartinLutherKing need so many cars? How did he get so many cars? Which car is he in?"

The cars rolled to a stop. And then what happened next held me in absolute awe. Out of each car came this parade of large black men, all dressed in the sharpest suites I had ever seen---all of them: looking every where. Scanning everything. Every face. Every sound, every nuance of movement. I had never, ever seen that kind of attention to ANYTHING as this strange little throng of maybe 20 African American men: set down right here. Right now. In the middle of 10,000 Caucasians' moved as one to the podium.

Still as a rock now---the only movement the toss of my baseball--I then had my very first moment of sheer, overwhelming, breath stopping, heart pounding, stomach tightening panic: when I realized that this flying wedge of terrifying men---unlike any I had ever seen up close: was coming straight towards me.

I was standing right between this rolling thunder of men in suits and the microphone. I wondered if this is what it felt like to die. . . . .

With the first battalion of this wave 3 steps away---they were not moving fast---they were being very, very cautious as they rolled eyes always in motion; with the first man so close I could see the jagged shape of the red handkerchief in his breast pocket---it flashed into my 8 year old soul: that I understood what these men were doing.

They were looking around like that, staying so close together, never smiling, they were doing all that because all 20 or 100 or however many had gotten out of those cars were protecting someone,

They were guarding the man in the middle. The one I could see now. The one who looked so tired. I looked at that man and even I could see: that man is very, very tired. And I remember thinking, I wonder if he'll take a nap when he gets home like my Dad likes to do sometimes on Sunday afternoons. That man with the tired eyes in the middle of the crowd. It did not occur to meat that instant that the man was MartinLutherKing. I was too scared for a thought that rational.

And then, just then my fear ratcheted up to yet another level that was totally new when I realized that the man in the middle of all this---whoever that man was: was the single, lone adult who ---in the last hour of my wanderings---had actually seen me! He looked right at me! He looked right at me!

About 6 steps away. I was frozen. Even the baseball was hidden in the mitt.

Then here's what happened.

The man at the very center of all this put up his right hand. His palm in my line of vision. Framed against an open, blue summer sky. And as he did this, as he raised has palm: everyone around him stopped moving! They just stopped. Right there. Like he had pulled some sort of magical brake that held them all.

Then that man with those bone tired eyes looked at me in a way that made me know that he had kids too.

Could that be how "arrogant" people look at kids? I sure didn't think so. Of course I was only 8.

And while all those men in suits kept looking everywhere, surrounding him, protecting him, he said, "You play ball son?"

I nodded. Speech had totally left me.

Then he held out his hand---the one that that had stopped the parade---and here's what he said:

He said, "Son. Give me the ball."

I nodded. Handed it to him. He took it. Rubbed it in his hands, the same way I did, the players did, the same way anybody would. He closed his tired eyes for just a minute, I saw the faint lines of a smile when he said, "Got to make some time to play some catch."

Then he tossed the ball back to me.

And thank God I caught it.

Reprinted with permission from "Finding Work When There Are No Jobs." Think Different Press, Chicago IL. 2013

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Clinton 'Outraged' By Laquan McDonald Video, But Gives Rahm A Pass

Sun, 2016-01-17 17:27

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel can still count Hillary Clinton among his dwindling supporters -- but just barely.

Emanuel's critics allege he tried to cover up damning video of a 2014 incident in which a Chicago cop shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times as the teen walked away.

During a Sunday interview on "Meet The Press," host Chuck Todd asked the Democratic presidential candidate if she felt the embattled mayor still had "credibility" among Chicago's black community in the wake of the video's release. 

Clinton said she was "outraged" by what happened to McDonald and noted that she was quick to call for a Department of Justice probe into the city's police department after it was released. Clinton went on to voice tepid support for Emanuel, who was once a top aide in her husband's administration and said that Chicago's policing problems are not unique.

"We've got to do a lot more to deal with the systemic racism and the problems that policing has demonstrated," Clinton said. "Mayor Emanuel has said that he is committed to complete and total reform, and I think he should be held to that standard."

When Todd pressed her again about Emanuel's credibility, Clinton said "that's going to be up to him and up to the people of Chicago to prove." 

Clinton's Sunday remarks were more measured than they were in December, when she told a Bloomberg reporter she was "confident that he's going to do everything he can to get to the bottom of these issues and take whatever measures are necessary to remedy them."

Todd posed a similar question last week to White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, who answered with decidedly more enthusiasm than Clinton. 

Support for Emanuel taken a nosedive since the release of the McDonald video in November. Since then, three other videos showing police shootings of young black men and teens have been released. In all four instances, the city's law department or police fought to keep the videos under wraps. 

Emanuel was once a "darling" of the Democratic party whose tough tactics were known to yield big results and big donations; now, members of his own party in Illinois are hatching legislation to oust him as mayor.

Clinton's rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) last month distanced himself from Emanuel as well, telling an audience in Chicago, "If the question is, do I want or need Rahm Emanuel's support for president -- with all due respect to the mayor, no, I don't."

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Another MLK Day and Still Going Through the Motions

Sat, 2016-01-16 14:40

Credit Dick DeMarsico, World Telegram

Against a national backdrop of lawlessness and racial insensitivity during worship, at routine traffic stops, on college campuses, in elementary schools and the courts, Chicago, in addition to being recognized as the "false-confession" capital, has earned the reputation as the "dash-cam" cover up and "evidence withholding" capital, too.

New and impending revelations of foul play, citizen outrage, resignation demands, finger-pointing blame games, lies and community infighting distract us from zeroing in on what really got us here: No sustained interest in addressing poverty. So, as we commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. King this weekend, the civil rights movement brings us back to core strategies that still apply if tactically adjusted for the millennium struggle for racial and economic justice.

In 1967, Dr. King keynoted the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's annual convention created to help local activist groups better coordinate. In delivering Where Do We Go from Here, King compared the chronology of racism in the South, with the 10-year history of the SCLC and its record of affecting change.

It turns out King was prophetic in diagnosing today how black marginalized citizens were denied government protection (law enforcement) and access to services (due process); exploited by businesses with large African-American consumer bases; and victimized by efforts to undermine viable solutions.

Chicago is emblematic of the moral crimes of government. As justifiable cynicism sets in, the optics of events such as the Laquan-gate shooting and cover-up, feed skepticism about how and for whom government works. In prosperous neighborhoods, government is subservient to it residents. In poor neighborhoods residents, as a rule, have been subservient to and, continue to be exploited by government.

"Policies of community development are being replaced with policies of community containment," according to the Rev. Jesse Jackson, King's protégé. "The absence of a domestic Marshall Plan has been replaced with martial law."

Indeed, rather than developing poor communities and creating real opportunities for residents, the focus has been on control, and in the process, government continues to be insensitive to the nuances of poverty, and the role race disparities continue to play in Chicago's and our nation's body politic.

In highlighting responsibility for promoting and maintaining progress, King discussed how, at one point, the African-American plight was practically invisible and irrelevant to larger society but became a reckoning force because of two distinct strategies.

Asserting dignity and worth. Silence, in the context of oppression, is complicity. Refusal to call out corruption, passively defends it. Faith-based and community-based organizations that stood sheepishly silent as King advocated for and mobilized marginal people brings to mind hundreds of community-based organizations, silently on the sidelines today perceiving any formal acknowledgement of corruption and oppression as "bad for business" in Chicago and elsewhere.

"There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular," King said, "but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right."

Today, King's sentiments falls on deaf ears, as some community and faith-based organizations have expressed apprehension about supporting the neo-civil rights movement represented by Black Lives Matter and affiliated groups. The truth is some community and faith-based leaders wear one face in front of their constituencies and another to the powers that be.

King knew well that direct action, in the form of organized protests, rallies, marches, and now, social media, raises awareness of and applies pressure to the issue cheaper, faster, and stronger than ever before. Although a flawed school of thought deems protests irrelevant, it is clear that, when executed correctly, with legally formalizing and paying for the goals of direct action, protest is still effective. In his speech, Dr. King called on African-Americans to make "our government write new laws to alter some of the cruelest injustices that affected us." There needs to be an update.

The 1963 March on Washington applied pressure to pass the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Organized protests forced the arrest of police officer Jason Van Dyke. The Selma Civil Rights marches led to the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Rallies forced the dismissal of Chicago police Supt. Garry McCarthy. Various marches forced a mea culpa from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and members of the Chicago city council.

Direct action affirms the dignity of the marginalized. This is the essence of the Black Lives Matter movement, an explicit response to the implicit behavior of government that lately gives every indication these lives don't.

Voting sustains such action. The civil rights movement removed the legal barriers to voting, but over time the weight of persistent poverty has convinced many potential voters of color to opt out. Meanwhile, efforts are being made to repeal the hard-won Voting Rights Act of 1965, making opting out a permanent condition.

Chicago has about 1.4M registered voters, but the turnout for the 2015 mayoral runoff was 41 percent. Voter turnout averaged 38 percent in Chicago wards where a majority of the population is African-American. Voter abstention in those wards was 62 percent, a disgrace.

Democracy without citizen participation is a dictatorship mired in government tyranny and community oppression with a cannibalistic effect. As a result, and as we have seen, the well to do get democracy; the not doing so wells and those associated get urban tyranny. To be sure, while African Americans may be legally free, the adverse impact of bad policy keeps the scales of economic and social equality tilted against the communities in which many reside.

Youth are poised to take center stage in bringing democracy back to marginalized communities. In the same way the SCLC was created to coordinate activities of protest organizations, youth can go beyond protesting the appalling Laquan McDonald situation to be trained to lead voting registration drives, and/or start their own political action committees with mentorship from other local veteran organizations to assist with coordination.

For example, every Chicago public school senior class president could coordinate an annual voter registration drive at their respective school. Students could create a citywide CPS Student PAC as well. Students would meet community service hour obligations through participation. Civil and fraternal groups could co-organize voter registrations drives and coordinate voting efforts.

Along with that, the Illinois state legislature could extend Illinois House bill 4025 mandating Illinois high school students take six semesters of civic education-specific classes, rather than one semester already mandated.

Area financial institutions could collaboratively underwrite the cost to meet their CRA requirements. There are currently 189 high schools in the Chicago Public School district with 112,000 high school students. Imagine if this were done with every senior class for the next years, in communities with high concentrations of poverty?

Absent continued protest and solutions to acquire political power, the commemorative King Day and Black History Month "celebrations," while laudable, will, arguably now more than ever, serve as nothing more than window dressing, obscuring a continuing and discriminating campaign of economic and democratic exclusion.

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Why This Progressive Is Really Excited About Hillary

Sat, 2016-01-16 11:01
I am excited that Hillary Clinton could be President of the United States. You read that right -- excited!

According to conventional punditry, I'm supposed to be lacking enthusiasm, nearly slapping my face to stay awake. But instead I can hardly wait to gather some friends and head to Iowa like I did in the bitter cold of 2008 for Barack Obama.

When asked why I, a long time progressive activist who has worked closely with Bernie Sanders in the Congress, am so strongly supporting Hillary, my answer is simple. I really, really want a pro-woman woman to be the most powerful person in the world.

We are living in a time when the politics are as anti-woman as I have seen in decades. Remarks reserved for the boys locker rooms are now said on stages by men who actually aspire to be President. I'm thinking of Trump being too disgusted to contemplate a woman using the toilet, or controlling herself while "bleeding from somewhere."

Worse, though, are the Republican candidates competing for who can be the most against a woman exercising her Constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. And the Winners are...Marco Rubio who thinks there should be no exceptions to a ban on abortions, not even in cases when the pregnancy results from rape or would threaten the life of the woman, while Ben Carson and Ted Cruz agree that a victim of rape or incest can't have an abortion -- or maybe even the morning after pill.

And even worse yet, now we know for sure that Republicans are against birth control. I know that's hard to believe but the evidence is harder. In their budget, House Republicans voted almost unanimously to eliminate the federal program that funds family planning -- a remarkable position for people against abortion. They voted 5 times to defund Planned Parenthood whose clinics are visited by 2 million women per year, mostly for preventive services, cancer screenings, and yes, contraceptives. One out of every five American women has visited a Planned Parenthood in her lifetime.

I've tried to explain to my Republican colleagues that you can significantly reduce abortions by guaranteeing access to effective contraceptives, but they don't seem to grasp the connection.

I am thrilled to think that my President will be a smart woman who has been a tireless advocate for women and children her entire adult life, a person who has experienced pregnancy, who has had her period, and who declared in front of the whole world in Beijing in 1995 that "Women's rights are human rights."

American women still earn 79cents to the dollar that men make -- significantly less for women of color. Republicans won't let us pass the Equal Pay Act or the Equal Rights Amendment, or paid leave from work, or affordable child care. Poor women are seeing a decline in longevity and 2/3 of minimum wage workers are women. Oh, I could go on and on and on.

A woman in the White House won't solve all these problems, you say, and you're right. But I guarantee you women's concerns will move up on the national agenda from day one of a Hillary Clinton Administration. Even as she addresses the problems of the world, (as the hands-down best prepared candidate to do so), women and girls everywhere will stand a bit taller and stretch their dreams a bit higher. And I believe we can make policies that improve the lives of and opportunities for women with Hillary as President.

I am really sick of the attacks on women -- on our health care choices, on our pay checks, on our ability to raise healthy children, on our hopes for a secure retirement.

That's why I am going to do everything I can as a member of Congress, a mother, and a proud grandmother like Hillary Clinton, to make her President of the United States. My heart beats a little faster just thinking about it. You can say I'm excited.

Jan Schakowsky represents the 9th Congressional District of Illinois and serves as Ranking Democrat on the Select Panel the Republicans created to investigate Planned Parenthood (again).

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