One of Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge's alleged torture victims announced today that he's suing Burge, his henchmen and Mayor Richard Daley after wrongfully spending more than 23 years in prison for someone else's crime. Michael Tillman confessed to a 1986 murder after allegedly suffering through a three-day period of torture. He isn't the first former torture victim to sue Burge. A few days after Burge's June 28 conviction, Ronald Kitchen also filed a lawsuit, saying the suit wasn't about money but about making Chicago "take notice." The Chicago Reporter Publisher Alden Loury echoes this sentiment in a blog post, describing the city-wide "silence" that let Burge and his cronies get away with their crimes for 37 years.
- President Barack Obama is challenging Arizona's new immigration legislation in court today, saying it invades the federal government's authority over immigration policy. The law in question instructs police to confirm the immigration status of anyone they believe to be illegal while in lawful contact with the suspect. Opponents say the law mandates racial profiling by forcing police to investigate the immigration status of anyone who looks Hispanic.
- A jury found former Chicago Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Al Sanchez guilty of rewarding political allies with city jobs for a second time on Wednesday. Sanchez was convicted of mail fraud charges last year, but a federal judge threw out the original verdict on appeal, asking for a retrial. The 4,000 jobs Sanchez used as political capital mainly built up the pro-Daley Hispanic Democratic Organization, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
- The firing of 600 Chicago Public Schools employees (400 teachers and 200 support staff) begins this week, raising average high school class sizes from 28 students to 33. Parents expressed outrage over the impending layoffs earlier this month, rallying outside the mayor's office and demanding that he funnel much-needed TIF funds to schools.
- Despite the success of finally passing an extension of unemployment benefits through Congress, In These Times reports that the 2.5 million people who have been chronically unemployed should celebrate with caution. Understaffed, antiquated employment agencies may take a while to wade through retroactive claims for aid, and the new legislation even eliminates some past recovery legislation which ensured millions health insurance and gave aid to state and local governments.
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and anti-apartheid hero, announced his retirement from public life today, according to the BBC.
- Is your home going to sell... now? Home sales in the Chicago area jumped 27.2 percent in June, suggesting the housing market may be stabilizing. Though other reports tell a different story.
- A new Labor Department report shows 37,000 Americans signed up for first-time unemployment benefits last week, suggesting the recovery is slowing, according to The Christian Science Monitor.
- More woes for people in prison. It's now a felony in Illinois for someone in prison to jam a prison door lock in order to keep it from closing.