- Created on 26 April 2013
The Chicago Public Schools’ announcement of 54 school closures continues to be met with public resistance. Almost all of the targeted schools are within either U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush’s 1st Congressional District or U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis’ 7th Congressional District. The two held a joint congressional forum April 20 to discuss the closures with the community.
Starting next school year, 54 schools that the school district deemed under used and lower performing have been recommended to close and the students transferred to other nearby higher-performing schools. Many of the welcoming schools are ones that also are under used, but are said to have better academic success.
Davis and Rush took part in a tour of previously closed schools and the communities surrounding them for an up close look at the impact. The tour, held earlier this month, was hosted by the Chicago Teachers Union.
Davis said then that he didn’t have a lot of information about the closures so the CTU tour and the congressional forum were was for him to “hear from the community.”
The forum was held at Quinn A.M.E. Church, 2401 S. Wabash. Parents, community residents, members of advocacy organizations and CTU President Karen Lewis attended the daylong forum.
Rush also expressed concern over the 17 schools proposed to close in his district.
He questions closing so many schools in the district, overall, at one time.
- Created on 26 April 2013
Chris Sale pitching at home and Adam Dunn starting to swing better added up to a win for the Chicago White Sox.
Sale overcame a shaky first two innings to combine with two relievers on a five-hitter and Dunn homered to lead the White Sox to a 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night.
Sale (2-2) is 11-3 with a 2.26 ERA at home in 17 starts dating to the beginning of the 2012 season. He walked three over the first two innings, but settled down and won for the first time since opening day.
He allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings, striking out seven and working around four walks.
Matt Lindstrom worked a scoreless eighth, then Addison Reed pitched the ninth for his seventh save in seven chances for Chicago.
"Tonight (Sale) worked his way through it and I think at the end you're looking at what you would expect, but with some little bumps in the road," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "The way he battled back is what you like seeing."
The White Sox also wouldn't mind seeing Dunn battle back.
Dunn, in a 7-for-70 slide coming in, hit a two-run homer in the sixth off Jeremy Hellickson (1-2) for a 5-2 lead. The White Sox designated hitter went 1 for 4, raising his average to .108.
"It's hard to sit here and tell everybody you feel good and the results aren't there, but I do feel good. I have felt good for the most part of the season," Dunn said. "Obviously the results aren't where I want them."
Desmond Jennings walked leading off the game and scored on Evan Longoria's single. Sale then walked two more in the second, but only allowed Jose Lobaton's solo home run in the fourth on his way to another win in Chicago.
"I think it's just like anything," Sale said. "You're a little more comfortable at your house and with the home crowd behind you."
Hellickson gave up five runs, five hits and four walks in six innings with eight strikeouts. Given the early lead, he allowed three runs in the first.
Alejandro De Aza doubled leading off and scored on Jeff Keppinger's double. Alex Rios walked and, one out later, Paul Konerko singled in the go-ahead run. Conor Gillaspie followed with a sacrifice fly.
Chicago had totaled 10 runs in its previous five games, losing four of them.
"I'll take five. I like five," Ventura said. "Five's a good number for our pitching staff. If you get there it's a pretty good number."
Gillaspie was thrown out at the plate trying to score on Alexei Ramirez's double into the left-field corner in the fourth. Longoria took the throw from Kelly Johnson and relayed to Lobaton at the plate.
Lobaton was 2 for 2 with a walk. His home run was his first since Aug. 22.
Hellickson's six-inning outing ended a three-game streak for Rays starters lasting at least eight innings. He said he felt comfortable during the second through the fifth innings, but it was the first (three runs) and the sixth (two) that hurt him.
"We got back into it and the home run took a little steam away from us," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Their guy was good. Sale was very good. They just straight up beat us."
Over his last two starts, Hellickson had allowed two runs in 14 innings. He more than matched that early, continuing a trend of first-inning struggles.
Eight of the 15 runs Hellickson's given up this season have been in the first.
"It's kind of frustrating, but I feel good," Hellickson said. "I just need to throw better pitches."
Sale did that after a tough first two innings.
"I think the biggest thing was taking my frustration out of it. Things are going to happen," Sale said. "You can't throw confetti when you're going good and you can't kick yourself in the rear when you're going bad."
- Created on 25 April 2013
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Inmates at a maximum-security prison in southern Illinois reported concern about "aggressive cellmates" shortly before a string of killings at the penitentiary, according to a report by an independent group.
The John Howard Association said several older inmates at Menard Correctional Center were anxious about the "younger and aggressive" inmates they were housed with when the prison monitoring group visited Menard Correctional Center in December. A report the organization filed late Tuesday also noted that inmates serving long sentences who are housed with inmates facing shorter stretches "can be problematic."
Three inmates at the prison in Chester, about 60 miles southeast of St. Louis, have been killed since Jan. 31, authorities said.
One involved a convicted murderer serving five life sentences who allegedly beat and strangled a younger cellmate who had 2½ years left behind bars. Another involved a 64-year-old inmate who was allegedly beaten by his 23-year-old cellmate.
Violence in the state's correctional system, including inmate assaults on staff members, has drawn a spotlight because of crowding. There are more than 49,000 inmates in facilities designed for 32,100.
"Tensions are very high due to the crowding," said John Maki, executive director of the John Howard Association. "The crowding is what exacerbates everything, here. Prisons, Menard in particular, have a history of violence, and heightened tensions, but the crowding has made everything more tense. When bed space is so limited, it complicates ordinary operations, from getting food into a facility to housing assignments."
Randolph County State's Attorney Jeremy Walker told The Associated Press Wednesday that he filed a murder charge Tuesday in the third case, against 38-year-old Frank Wings. Wings is accused of fatally strangling his cellmate, 35-year-old William Crowder, on March 26.
Wings has been transferred to the maximum-security lockup in Pontiac. Walker said he faces a preliminary hearing May 23. Wings' attorney, Lucas Liefer of Red Bud, declined comment on the case.
Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Stacey Solano stressed "an extensive review process" matches cellmates based on physical age and size, length of sentence, level of aggression and history of violence, gang affiliation and more. She said the inmate deaths have prompted officials to carefully review the policies.
"Inmates may request a cell change with security or counseling staff at any time," Solano said. "The department carefully considers all requests and approves or denies based on the safety and security of inmates and facility."
Walker said the last Menard inmate homicide was in 2004. Corey Fox, serving a life sentence at Menard for a 2001 murder, killed a cellmate who was a first-time offender sent to Menard when he tested positive for crack cocaine in the minimum-security prison in which he had been held.
Fox was later exiled at Tamms Correctional Center, the "supermax" prison for the system's "worst of the worst" that Gov. Pat Quinn ordered closed at the end of last year to save money. Its closure, and that of the women's prison in Dwight, which was shuttered last month, has been held up by Corrections Department critics who say they've contributed to the crowding.
Wings, serving a 25-year sentence for armed robbery and scheduled to be released in 2023, is similar in age and sentence duration to his alleged victim, who was scheduled to be released in 2021. But Wings is listed at 6-foot-1, 244 pounds, compared with Crowder, who was 5-foot-10, 170 pounds.
- Created on 25 April 2013
Paternal relatives of missing 1-year-old Bryeon Hunter expressed concern that they are not getting information from Maywood police in the baby’s disappearance.
Saturday, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office charged Hunter’s mother, Lakeshia Baker of the west suburban town, and her boyfriend, Michael Scott, with the child’s murder.
April 16 the pair reported the child abducted saying that he was taken as he and the mother walked down the street in Maywood. An Amber Alert was issued for the boy. But the mother’s and boyfriend’s account of what happened to Hunter quickly unraveled, leading each of them to point the finger at the other.
In announcing the murder charges Saturday, prosecutors said the abduction story was a cover up for the beating that both adults indicate left the baby dead.
Baker, 22, beat her son to death, prosecutors said she admitted. Scott, 21, allegedly covered the boy’s mouth to muffle his cry. According to the charges, after beating Hunter in the bathroom of the home the couple and two children – including Hunter and another young child – share with a relative, Scott and Baker admit to putting Hunter’s dead body into a backpack.
The pair differ on how the body was disposed but both said the backpack with the dead child in it was placed in a nearby river. The Des Plaines River runs through the town, which borders the city of Chicago to the east. Despite canine unit and marine searches, the baby’s body has yet to be found.
Charles Montgomery told the Chicago Defender that he and the paternal grandmother are frustrated and “fed up” with not being able to get more information from the Maywood police or the maternal family in this case.
Montgomery identified himself as the second cousin of Bryant Hunter, Bryeon Hunter’s biological father. Bryant Hunter is currently serving a six-year sentence in the Lincoln Correction Center in Lincoln, Illinois for a felony drug conviction.
The cousin said Bryant Hunter and Baker had been a couple living in Chicago near 71st and Halsted Streets up until Hunter’s arrest and incarceration. Montgomery said after the father was locked up in March 2012, Baker began a relationship with Scott.
The paternal grandmother is “going through a thing about her grandbaby,” said Montgomery.
Baker’s mugshot shows the mother with what appears to be two blackened and swollen eyes. Montgomery said Scott is abusive to her. The cousin suspects that it was the boyfriend who may have harmed Bryeon.
“If you want to find the baby, they have to start with that guy,” said Mongtomery.
Baker is being held without bail in Cook County Jail on first-degree murder charges. Scott’s bond was set at $750,000.
Members of the mother’s family, friends and other supporters gathered in Maywood Tuesday evening for a vigil in honor of the Bryeon. They all want to know where the boy’s body is and what happened to him.
- Created on 24 April 2013
The family of an off-duty Chicago police officer who was shot and killed three years ago by gang members is filing a lawsuit against the Mississippi gun dealer where the weapon was purchased.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence on Wednesday announced the lawsuit filed by the family of Thomas Wortham IV in a news release. Wortham had just returned from Iraq after serving in the National Guard when he was shot outside his family home by men trying to steal his motorcycle.
The lawsuit alleges Ed's Pawn Shop and Salvage Yard in Byhalia, Miss., was negligent in selling the weapon to a man they knew or should have known was conspiring with a gun trafficker.
The owner of the shop did not immediately return a call for comment.