Homicides in Chicago are way down.
Homicides in Chicago are way down.
What if you could predict your chances of being shot from your social network: who you know and how you know them? Turns out, maybe you can.
The Cornell Square Park shooting September 19, in which two men wounded 13 by firing indiscriminately into a public park, has added new urgency to the discussion about violent crime in Chicago. It’s no secret that some parts of the city are more dangerous than others. As Noah Berlatsky pointed out last week, race and socioeconomic class can feel like prime predictors of how safe you are in Chicago. Those living on the South Side, where the shooting took place, face some of the highest violent crime and murder rates in the nation without, counterintuitively, any nearby hospital trauma unit to deal with the effects. At the same time, it’s not as simple as some neighborhoods being “safe” and others being “unsafe.”
Read more. [Image: Milos Dizajn/Shutterstock; Jose Luis Gonzales/Reuters]
After hearing about the Chicago shooting last week in which 13 were injured in Cornell Square Park, including a three-year-old, I and writer Mikki Kendall, both Chicago residents, had very different reactions. It’s “not just the park incident,” Kendall told me by email. “20 people were shot this weekend. People are being shot almost daily. And I have a 14 year-old son who can’t go to the McDonald’s in Hyde Park at lunch because the school has noticed an uptick in crime at that location.”
I was depressed and horrified, too — but depressed and horrified in the way that you are when you hear about gun violence anywhere. Unlike Kendall, I wasn’t directly concerned about the safety of my family.
Based on our reactions, you’d think that Kendall lived much closer to the shooting than I do. But that’s not the case. In fact, we’re both in Hyde Park, about 4 miles away from where it occurred on the city’s South Side. I can walk to the McDonald’s she mentioned.
So why does Kendall feel personally targeted and I don’t? Well, Kendall is black and grew up here; I’m white, and didn’t.
In other words, welcome to Chicago, where segregation is almost a civic art form.
Read more. [Image: stopchicago.org]
On Tuesday night, a huge vacant warehouse on Chicago’s South Side went up in flames. Fire department officials said it was the biggest blaze the department has had to battle in years and one-third of all Chicago firefighters were on the scene at one point or another trying to put out the flames. Complicating the scene was the weather — temperatures were well below freezing and the spray from the fire hoses encased everything below in ice, including buildings, vehicles, and some firefighting gear. The warehouse was gutted, but the fire was contained. Fire crews remain on the scene as some smaller flare-ups continue to need attention.
See more. [Images: AP, Getty, Reuters]
Chick-fil-A’s sandwiches are no longer homophoburgers or free-speech-you-can-eat or whatever the fast food meant during this summer’s culture wars. Fried chicken just went back to being delicious as the chain promised to stop “supporting organizations with political agendas,” which includes anti-gay groups—a move that’s gotten them back into a Chicago’s good graces. We learned the news by way of Chicago’s The Civil Right Agenda (TCRA) an LGBT-rights advocacy group, who report that Chick-fil-A has penned a letter saying, “The WinShape Foundations is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas.” That letter was addressed to Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno, who along with Boston mayor Thomas Menino, said they would block the chain for its anti-gay views. WinShape is the chain’s not-for-profit charitable arm that had previously donated to groups opposing gay marriage. TCRA adds, “In meetings the company executives clarified that they will no longer give to anti-gay organizations, such as Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage.”
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
It will also be interesting to see if the Chicago strike is an anomaly, or if it has opened a door to more aggressive contract negotiations in other large urban school districts. To be sure, Chicago teachers aren’t the only ones frustrated by the many new demands being placed on educators to boost student achievement. The strike might also end up being a warning to policymakers that there is, indeed, a limit to how hard reform can be pushed - and how fast.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
You’d think that folks who love both red meat and Sarah Palin would rally behind a sculpture devoted to both. But for some reason, the Tea Party is not happy with this BBQ smoker in the shape of the conservative firebrand’s freedom-filled noggin.
News organizations have been rooting and snuffling around the immense Palin head, titled “We’re Having a Tea Parody” (not “Pear-ody,” as reported elsewhere), ever since mixed-media artist J. Taylor Wallace debuted it in 2011 at a Memphis public-art show. The anthropomorphic cooker hit the news again last week, when Wallace fashioned a meal with it to celebrate the opening of a new sculpture garden in Chicago.
Read more at The Atlantic Wire. [Image: J. Taylor Wallace]
In the April issue of The Atlantic, Jonathan Alter writes about Rahm Emanuel’s efforts to clean up Chicago’s political system. Alter will be online to discuss the article today at 3:30 p.m.
An excerpt from Alter’s story:
I was walking around my sister’s Near North neighborhood in Chicago recently and came upon a small patch of green called Bauler Park. Paddy Bauler was the rollicking tavern owner and 43rd Ward alderman who in 1955 famously shouted, upon hearing of the election of Richard J. Daley as mayor: “Chicago ain’t ready for reform!”
More than half a century later, the man who not long ago represented Bauler’s neighborhood in Congress insists that Chicago is finally ready. Rahm Emanuel, who succeeded old man Daley’s son Rich as mayor last May, has to be careful not to repudiate the Daleys, who helped nurture his rise. And “The Missile,” as the Chicago journalist James Warren dubbed him, is hardly a good-government “goo goo.” “Taking the politics out of politics is like taking the money out of capitalism,” Emanuel told me during his mayoral campaign. But in locking on to his three high-value targets—the city’s tattered finances, a murder rate twice that of New York, and schools that aren’t preparing Chicago’s future workforce—Rahm (as he’s known everywhere) is bent on wholesale reform of “the Chicago Way.”
Ever since the film The Untouchables popularized the term, there’s been some misunderstanding about what the Chicago Way means. In the movie, Sean Connery’s Irish cop describes to Kevin Costner’s Eliot Ness how to get Al Capone: “He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue! That’s the Chicago Way!” And that will be Rahm’s way, at least some of the time. But in practice, this vague urban modus operandi is less about vengeance than venality—payoffs, kickbacks, and ghost-hiring, not to mention the destructive if perfectly legal tradition of cozy union contracts and the newer “pinstripe patronage” of sketchy bond deals and privatized city functions. […]
Rahm quotes an iconic Chicago line to make his point on reform: “We don’t want nobody nobody sent.” His aim, he says, is to build a Chicago where everybody is a somebody, even if nobody sent ’em. The mayor’s office says that it has recorded more than 6.4 million total visits to the city’s new Web site, which, among other new transparency measures, posts all government salaries. During the debate over last year’s budget, more than 40,000 Chicagoans commented online about where to make cuts. Paddy Bauler is cursing Twitter from the grave.
“We are known as ‘the city that works,’” Rahm says. “You gotta make sure it works for everybody and not just a few.” He insists that the deeply entrenched system is already beginning to change: “One mother having difficulty with CPS [Chicago Public Schools] posts something on Facebook about schools. She got called that day by CPS. When the fuck did that ever happen around here? Another person tweeted about a pothole on her street and the Chicago Department of Transportation was at the pothole the next day, filling it!”
Sitting in his cavernous office on the fifth floor of City Hall, Rahm lowers his outstretched, empty palms, then raises them above his waist. “If you have your hands above the table, you can’t deal from the bottom of the deck,” he says.