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[ Reeder: Illinois Democrats’ latest ploy — no ID needed for early voting ]]> Lead story image

I dropped by my local courthouse last Monday and voted early. Before stepping into the county clerk’s office, armed sheriff’s police had me empty my pockets and step through a metal detector. After I entered the Sangamon County clerk’s office, a cheerful worker told me I didn’t need any identification to vote early this year. Hmmm, they don’t trust the public to enter a public building unarmed, but when it comes to voting they’ll take anyone’s word at face value. This year, and for the Nov. 4 election only, the Illinois General Assembly has suspended safeguards the state has in … ]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 18:49:12 -0500 <![CDATA[ What’s with our fascination with celebrities? ]]> Lead story image

The first celebrity I ever encountered in person was Nellie Fox, the Hall of Fame second baseman for the pennant-winning Chicago White Sox of 1959. I was 11 when my father took our family of 10 to the Back of the Yards Carnival one warm summer night. On the way in, my old man pointed out a group of nicely dressed men at 47th Street and Damen Avenue, gathered around a shiny car whose dome light was on. Seated inside were the All-Star second baseman and Mrs. Fox, talking through the open window to the others. I rushed up to … ]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 18:48:53 -0500 <![CDATA[ Varjavand: A controversial plan to deter rising income inequality ]]> Lead story image

Numerous books have been written about economic inequality, especially in the aftermath of the Great Recession, but none has received as much attention from the academic community as “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by French economist Thomas Piketty. The depth and breadth of analyses presented in this book, published last year, as well as detailed data on income inequality since the 18th century are destined to make this book a classic. Piketty argues, along with many other economists, that income inequality is not inherently bad — as long as it is not intense and works for the common good of … ]]> Sun, 19 Oct 2014 02:14:27 -0500 <![CDATA[ Shaw: Trying to get the governor candidates’ stances on major issues ]]> Lead story image

One of television’s hottest dramas is playing out daily here in Illinois. No, it’s not “The Good Wife,” “Shameless” or “Chicago Fire,” and “Breaking Bad” isn’t coming back with a Windy City setting. I’m talking about the rock ‘em, sock ‘em, neck-and-neck race for governor, starring Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn, Republican nominee Bruce Rauner and a deluge of attack ads they’ve been bombarding us and each other with for months. Curiously, the ads borrow heavily from the worlds of cartoons and literary fiction — genres where political campaigns don’t typically get their broadcast ammunition. In one TV commercial the Rauner … ]]> Sun, 12 Oct 2014 02:18:19 -0500 <![CDATA[ Teachers should stop ‘flopping’ on the job ]]> Lead story image

As an English teacher, I have never had to consult either a calendar or a wristwatch to know when the last week of the semester arrived. The more reliable indicator was when colleagues started telling me, one by one, how severely overwhelmed they were by final exams and grades. I didn’t get it. After teaching a few years, you pretty much knew what was required and by what date. So I built a “cushion” into my schedule to make certain that everything would be completed even if an unanticipated event occurred. Not because I was some sort of industrious overachiever. … ]]> Sun, 12 Oct 2014 02:18:29 -0500 <![CDATA[ How Illinois voters next month can help crime victims ]]> Lead story image

From the moment the world was exposed to the now-infamous video of NFL player Ray Rice knocking out his fiancee during an elevator ride, domestic violence in our communities has made headlines across the nation. Americans learned that domestic violence is a real, existing threat that lives in their neighborhoods. The problem exploded out of the shadowy corners of our private spaces into the public sphere. People are asking all kinds of questions. Why does she stay? What causes domestic violence? Where did the NFL go wrong? But for some of us advocates, the most inspiring question we can hear … ]]> Sun, 05 Oct 2014 02:18:34 -0500 <![CDATA[ Reeder: State has no answers on budget for college aid program ]]> Lead story image

So how many of your dollars are being spent on providing free college educations for state workers? We don’t know — and that should outrage you. We know that in past budgets, the state has spent $5 million on the program known as Upward Mobility. But if you take a careful look at this year’s state budget, you’ll find that the program has been “zeroed out,” meaning that it appears the state no longer is spending a dime on the program. But appearances can be deceptive, especially when it comes to Illinois government. A quick look at the Department of … ]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 09:21:05 -0500 <![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. … ]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 06:15:10 -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 … ]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 06:14:31 -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 … ]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 06:19:27 -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 … ]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 06:18:53 -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 … ]]> Wed, 08 Oct 2014 06:14:56 -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 … ]]> Wed, 08 Oct 2014 06:20:45 -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