Archive for October 2009

Muckraking: Chicago Reader uncovers Daley's secret budget

Mayor Richard M. Daley is operating a publicly funded city budget that’s entirely off the books, according to a Chicago Reader investigation. The shadow budget includes a rehab of Willis Tower, subsidies for privately run hospitals and Fortune 500 corporations, and neighborhood projects not included in the official city budget. Mick Dumke and Ben Joravsky... Read more »

Streets and Sanitation absenteeism is an old (and political) story

Tom Byrne, commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Streets and Sanitation, put his foot down this week on chronic absenteeism within his department. I guess that means things are gonna get real dicey when it comes time to vote (and work the polls) during some pivotal elections in 2010 and 2011. It’s a not-so-well-kept secret that... Read more »

African-Americans and Latinos hit hardest by property tax increases

Although the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times both looked at property tax increases across the city on Tuesday, neither paper mentioned that across Chicago, black and Latino neighborhoods will see the highest percentage hikes in their bills. Four out of the five community areas with the highest percentage increase–West Garfield Park, Fuller Park, Englewood... Read more »

Which communities will face the biggest property tax increases?

Cook County property owners will face steep property tax hikes, according to analysis in the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. Both newspapers analyzed data from the Cook County Assessor’s office Tuesday to determine which Chicago neighborhoods would have the highest property tax increase as the county phases out a controversial program to cap such... Read more »

How clean is the water in Illinois?

Improving water quality is a crucial–yet often overlooked–part of controlling pollution in America. Environment Illinois released an extensive report Wednesday revealing the high amounts of industrial pollution present in Illinois water. Environment Illinois analyzed the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Release Inventory for 2007. Some of the findings: * Tyson Fresh Meats was the state’s biggest... Read more »

Where is stimulus money headed in Cook County?

It’s easy to get lost while trying to sift through such a massive amount of money and information. But a team of reporters at ProPublica has made it a lot easier to track what is happening with stimulus money in each state and county.   The team’s most recent coverage included a pair of Excel... Read more »

Today's Chicago Muckraking: Clout Hospital

Mercy Hospital and Medical Center–the birthplace of Mayor Richard M. Daley–has stayed afloat despite financial troubles. Part of that is because of profits the hospital earned from a real estate venture located in a special tax district the mayor created to benefit the hospital, the Chicago Sun-Times reported October 13. Reporter Tim Novak used city... Read more »

The biggest headlines on race, poverty

I remember when I was a reporter and editors scrambled at the end of the year to do a big wrap-up of the year’s biggest news stories. Invariably, most of the stories about poor folks and minorities didn’t make the cut. So this year, I’ve decided to make my own list. There’s a lot to... Read more »

Illinois State Police start expunging backlogged criminal records

Under pressure from a Cook County judge, the Illinois State Police has relaxed its opposition to sealing or expunging the criminal records of thousands of ex-offenders in the last seven months, but hundreds have yet to reap the benefits. Paul P. Biebel Jr., presiding judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County Criminal Division, demanded... Read more »

Watchdog finds most rape kits ignored

Human rights watchdog Sarah Tofte raises serious concerns about the number of rape kits tested by the Illinois State Police crime lab. In her investigative report, which appeared October 9 on The Huffington Post, Tofte writes: “While we believe that Chicago sends every rape kit to the state crime lab, there are serious questions about what happens... Read more »