Latest news from The Southtown Star Online en-us Wed, 28 Jul 2010 14:10:16 PDT Southtown Star logo 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ Resolving an epidemic of plagiarism ]]> Lead story image

As a former employee of a term paper mill, I usually can tell when someone is attempting to disguise another person’s writing as their own, rather like one of those computer hackers hired by the FBI to help catch other hackers. I’ve long since been reformed, following my youthful stint as a hired pen working in Chicago for Term Paper Research, based in Boston, for which I earned up to $4 a page writing essays for college students. In my defense, it was 1970, and I was only 21. And my boss assured me that the work was as legal … ]]> Sun, 28 Sep 2014 02:14:03 -0500 <![CDATA[ Illinois’ culture of political cronyism alive and well ]]> Lead story image

In Illinois government, it’s often not what you know but who you know that gets you hired or lands you that lucrative contract. It has been that way under Republicans and under Democrats. Jobs and contracts are divvied out after every election like the spoils of war. It is part of Illinois’ culture of “cronyism” that allows the politically connected to prosper at the expense of the rest of us. Cronyism comes in all stripes. It may be a politically connected company getting a handout from the state. Or it could be an unqualified person getting a job just because … ]]> Sun, 28 Sep 2014 02:13:33 -0500 <![CDATA[ Reeder: U.S. economic recovery mostly skips Illinois ]]> Lead story image

For every new job created in Illinois since January 2010, two people have signed up for food stamps. That’s just sad. OK, it’s pathetic. And this is happening during a period that has been labeled as an “economic recovery.” But the fact of the matter is that Illinois has lagged far behind the rest of the country in recovering from the Great Recession. The number of private-sector jobs in the state has dropped by 5,900 since the first of the year. Only Illinois and Alaska among the states has seen a drop in the number of nongovernmental jobs this year. … ]]> Sun, 21 Sep 2014 02:12:06 -0500 <![CDATA[ Shaw: Pension crisis hits Cook County suburbs, too ]]> Lead story image

Unless you’ve been living in the Deep Tunnel, you’ve probably heard that the state of Illinois is facing a daunting public employee pension crisis and Chicago schools and city government are tiptoeing around similar fiscal land mines that could blow up in the faces of retirees and taxpayers. Unfortunately, there’s more pension peril that you may not have heard much about, even if you’re following the story. A recent Better Government Association investigation found the tentacles of the pension problem reaching far beyond Springfield and Chicago to suburban Cook County, where underfunded pension funds threaten numerous municipalities. Dozens of pension … ]]> Sun, 21 Sep 2014 02:12:37 -0500 <![CDATA[ Reeder: More accepted to U of I saying ‘no thanks’ ]]> Lead story image

More often than not, when students receive an admission letter from the University of Illinois, they opt to attend another university. That’s a sad state of affairs for Illinois’ flagship university. The U of I is a terrific school. My father graduated from its Urbana-Champaign campus 54 years ago with a degree in veterinary medicine, I received a master’s degree from its Springfield campus in 1988 (when it still was called Sangamon State), and my niece graduated this year from the U of I with a bachelor’s degree. So I value the university and want to see it succeed. But … ]]> Sun, 14 Sep 2014 02:12:42 -0500 <![CDATA[ McGrath: The color of privilege, the color of doubt ]]> Lead story image

When I was pulled over by police many years ago on a remote stretch of Illinois 171 at 1 a.m., I was the same age as Michael Brown. Brown was the 18-year-old black teenager shot and killed Aug. 9 by officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, sparking weeks of street protests against Ferguson police. It was on another August night when my 21-year-old brother and I spent time at the Bluefront Lounge near Willow Springs, listening to our favorite country-and-western band. Later, I drove us home in my brother’s 1962 Chevrolet Impala with the convertible top down, while he sang … ]]> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 15:44:05 -0500 <![CDATA[ Taxi firms’ clout may kill cab competition in Chicago ]]> Lead story image

Awhile back, I took a cab to Chicago’s Navy Pier and attempted to pay for my ride with a credit card. My effort was greeted with a torrent of obscenities. The driver didn’t want to take my card despite a placard of regulations in the cab that said he must do so. When I pointed out the stack of credit card carbons on his dashboard, he hollered even louder. It seems some drivers want the taxicab business to be strictly cash. In the last year or so, an alternative to cabs has arrived on the scene — ride-sharing services. Folks … ]]> Sun, 07 Sep 2014 02:13:08 -0500 <![CDATA[ Legislators need to override Quinn speed-limit veto ]]> Lead story image

The Illinois General Assembly in May passed Senate Bill 2015 by “veto-proof” majorities of 48-6 in the Senate and 111-4 in the House. The law would raise the speed limit on all Illinois tollways to 70 mph. But despite the overwhelming support for this bill, Gov. Pat Quinn recently vetoed it, citing safety concerns — even though the legislation merely clarifies the 2013 speed limit bill that Quinn did sign. The 2013 bill raised the speed limit on interstate highways in Illinois to 70 mph, except in certain metropolitan areas. What could be the true motive behind this symbolic but … ]]> Sun, 07 Sep 2014 02:13:29 -0500 <![CDATA[ Labor unions can bridge income gap ]]> Lead story image

Hard work has been my family’s religion, and our church the union hall. And Labor Day is our most sacred holiday of the year. It started when I was 11 and was offered my first job as a shoeshine boy at Link’s Barber Shop on 95th Street and California Avenue in Evergreen Park. Frank Link gave haircuts to all six McGrath boys. Every day, I would wave to him as I walked past the barber pole on the way home from school. One afternoon, Link stepped outside, a black comb in one hand, a lit cigarette in the other, to … ]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 06:22:56 -0500 <![CDATA[ Harris v. Quinn: Is it setback or boost for labor? ]]> Lead story image

When the U.S. Supreme Court this summer weakened labor protections for about 26,000 home-care providers in Illinois, most analysts characterized the decision as a dire portent for unions representing low-wage workers. So here’s what happened next — the day after the ruling in Harris v. Quinn, those thousands of workers began earning the latest in a series of wage increases that the Service Employees International Union collectively bargained for on their behalf. Just like the wages they fought so hard to increase during the past 30 years — wages that were once an unconscionable $1 an hour — these home-care … ]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 06:23:02 -0500 <![CDATA[ Reeder: Parents deserve greater educational choice ]]> Lead story image

I was chatting the other day with a fellow who, along with his wife, home-schools his children. He explained the benefits that he believes his youngsters have derived from being taught at home — a customized curriculum, religious values instilled and extra time with parents. “One of the great things about home-schooling is that I haven’t been hassled by anyone in government over how we choose to educate our kids,” he said. Of course, home-schooling isn’t for everyone. But it is a wonderful option. There are other good choices out there, too — parochial schools, private secular schools, public schools, … ]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 12:54:07 -0500 <![CDATA[ Rahman: History will give Obama credit he deserves ]]> Lead story image

The news media’s obsession with negative news seems to have reached an all-time high, with President Obama being the favorite target. While there was a time in the eyes of the media when this president could do no wrong, the same media is now writing his political obituary in the most unflattering terms. Obama’s Republican detractors have accused him of being “absent on the job,” ineffective and weak. They forget that their icon, Ronald Reagan, was the least “hands on” among recent presidents and that President Eisenhower played more golf in one year than Obama has played in the last … ]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 13:04:17 -0500 <![CDATA[ Stephen Schlickman: Anti-ride-sharing bills threaten consumer choice ]]> Lead story image

If you’ve lived in Chicago for longer than a week, you have to shake your head when listening to the taxi industry’s arguments against ride-sharing. The cab companies contend (with a straight face, mind you) that they offer safe and secure rides and serve every neighborhood in the city. In other words, they’re meeting consumers’ rights and transportation needs. Ride-sharing services such as Lyft and UberX are popular in Chicago and in nearly 100 other cities across the nation for good reason. Available via the touch of a smartphone button, affordable and accessible day or night in neighborhoods typically underserved … ]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 06:13:56 -0500 <![CDATA[ McGrath: Don’t make summer mistake — leaving teens alone ]]> Lead story image

Summer may be the ideal season for travel, but with it comes worry over leaving teenagers at home unsupervised. Our darling children, of course, would never have dreamed of having a wild party in our absence. So when Marianne and I had a chance to fly to San Francisco, we barely felt the need to articulate any rules. Days later, we arrived home to a clean house and no surprises. I joked that it smelled a little bit like cigarettes in the front room. Dad, they laughed, you’re smelling fumes from the neighbor’s lawn mower. They must cut their precious … ]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 06:17:10 -0500 <![CDATA[ Reeder: More than the hog barn stinks at the Illinois State Fair ]]> Lead story image

Twenty years ago, state officials implemented reforms designed to make the Illinois State Fair break even. They failed. Big time. The fair has been as sure-fired a loser as a kid playing a carnival game. Well, maybe that’s not fair — every once in a while, a youngster actually wins. Not so with the fair. It’s a carnie’s dream: a loser that won’t quit. It and its southern cousin the DuQuoin State Fair, haven’t broke even once in the past two decades. State fair manager Amy Bliefnick told me she doesn’t know if it’s possible for the state fair to … ]]> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 06:47:32 -0500 <![CDATA[ Reeder: Lower tax rates would keep U.S. corporations home ]]> Lead story image

I picked up my vacation photos at Walgreens the other day. And I didn’t hear any French, German or Italian spoken. How surprising. I’ve read that the huge drugstore chain is considering becoming a Swiss corporation. I’ll admit the thought of a company that essentially is an American icon becoming a foreign corporation gives me pause. After all, Walgreen Co. is one of Illinois’ premier companies. It was founded here in 1901 and is headquartered in Deerfield. And now company executives are talking about moving their headquarters to Switzerland to take advantage of a much lower corporate tax rate. But … ]]> Thu, 04 Sep 2014 06:36:49 -0500