- Created on 11 April 2013
Hollywood and independent film directors, along with Roger Ebert's friends and family, will honor the late movie critic at a memorial service in Chicago today.
Ebert died last week at age 70 after a long battle with cancer. The memorial is planned for Thursday at the Chicago Theatre, where Ebert attended screenings for many years. Comedian Dick Gregory, "The Fugitive" director Andy Davis and former Playboy CEO Christie Hefner are among those scheduled to attend.
The memorial is to include music from a gospel choir, footage from television shows featuring Ebert and fellow critic Gene Siskel and tributes from his widow, Chaz Ebert.
Ebert also will be honored next week at Ebertfest, his annual film festival in Champaign.
- Created on 11 April 2013
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A widening federal investigation into the alleged misuse of a $1.25 million state grant led Wednesday to the indictment of the daughter the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the contentious former pastor of President Barack Obama.
A grand jury sitting in Springfield returned three indictments, including one that claims Jeri L. Wright, of Hazel Crest, took $28,000 in state money, purporting to do work related to the grant's purpose, but deposited about $20,000 into bank accounts controlled by Regina and Ronald Evans, of Country Club Hills.
A superseding indictment also was handed down Wednesday contending Evans, the former police chief of Country Club Hills, and her husband committed wire fraud, money laundering and more in using the 2009 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Through two nonprofits the Evanses ran, the couple allegedly promised to use the grant money to train bricklayers and electricians and provide GED preparation in a renovated theater they owned in Chicago.
The indictment claims little or no training was done.
Lawrence Beaumont, of Chicago, attorney for Regina Evans, 50, said she is innocent but declined further comment. Beaumont confirmed that Jeri Wright is the daughter of the fiery minister whose sermons and later public statements during the 2008 presidential campaign forced then-U.S. Sen. Obama to denounce the pastor's utterances.
A number for the 47-year-old Jeri Wright is disconnected.
The third indictment charges Regina Evans' brother, Ricky McCoy, of Chicago, with obstruction of justice, witness tampering and other charges related to the ongoing investigation, along with money laundering. It claims that the 52-year-old McCoy cashed a check for $16,249 and deposited it into a bank account controlled by the Evanses.
A message left with McCoy's mother was not immediately returned. McCoy's attorney, Ralph Meczyk, of Chicago, said Wednesday night he had not seen the indictment and had no immediate comment.
Regina Evans was first indicted in April 2012. The Associated Press reported in early 2012 that after state officials pursued questionable spending, a Cook County judge ordered reimbursement of $917,000 from one of the Evanses' nonprofits, We Are Our Brother's Keeper — for which McCoy had served as executive director. At that time, a third of the money had been repaid. It was not immediately clear Wednesday night if any more had been recovered.
- Created on 09 April 2013
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced Monday, April 8, 2013 that more than 18,000 Chicago young adults ages 16 to 24 will gain job training and work experience this summer as part of 2013’s One Summer Chicago program.
Additionally, over 190,000 opportunities to participate in educational and recreational opportunities will be made available for young Chicagoans, ages 6 to 24. This represents an increase in the number of jobs and opportunities available to Chicago youth from 2012.
“We want children and young adults to be safe and engaged this summer by taking full advantage of all of the excellent work, educational and recreational opportunities that we have assembled,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Young students working on building their careers or seeking higher education will have unprecedented opportunities to learn from the best local businesses, corporations and organizations and to develop the type of knowledge and skills that will allow them a brighter future.”
“One Summer Chicago is a joint effort between the City and County to provide Chicago’s youth with summer job opportunities and activities designed to enhance personal development and learning in a safe environment," Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said. "Mayor Emanuel and I recognize the importance of offering young people productive alternatives to help them succeed.”
To help parents and children find and take advantage of these opportunities in the third year of this program, the city of Chicago website is available for youth to apply for jobs through a common application and provides information to parents on how to connect with more than 190,000 other recreational activities. The site has details on jobs and internships for youth.
Online registration and application for summer employment is available now through May 31, 2013. The site also helps direct families to summer camps, organized sports programs, summer field trips to cultural institutions and other noteworthy locations across the city.
For more information concerning programs related to One Summer Chicago and all affiliated summer programs click here.
- Created on 09 April 2013
While Democrat Robin Kelly is widely expected to capture Tuesday's special election for former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s seat over Republican Paul McKinley, any winner will face big challenges.
Illinois' newest member of Congress will have big shoes to fill: Jackson was a 17-year incumbent who served on the powerful House Appropriations Committee and brought home nearly $1 billion to the district. He also had strong relationships with mayors, activists and voters across the district that includes city neighborhoods, suburbs and some rural areas.
Jackson resigned in November. He pleaded guilty in February in federal court to lavishly misspending $750,000 in campaign funds.
Political experts, voters and mayors agree that Kelly, 56, has the edge. She's a former state representative, has received big name endorsements including from President Barack Obama and received a huge boost from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's super PAC, which supported her gun control stance. Also, The district is solidly Democratic and has been for about six decades. McKinley is an ex-con-turned-community activist who barely won his primary.
Voter turnout is expected to be low Tuesday, the same day as many municipal elections statewide. Roughly 14 percent of voters turned out for the special primary in February, which Kelly easily captured.
The Matteson resident said whoever wins will face challenges, like being the last to get committee assignments and having to play catch up. But she believes she can be a voice on the national stage for gun control. Her primary victory speech, in which she issued a direct challenge to the National Rifle Association, earned praise from Bloomberg and Vice President Joe Biden. And Obama nodded to her anti-gun advocacy in his endorsement.
"I will have a voice in Congress as the debate is going on and as issues come to the floor," Kelly said. "I will attend everything I can attend."
But McKinley isn't so sure it's in the bag for Kelly. The Chicago man — who doesn't advocate for gun control — has focused his campaign on how his integration back into society after serving nearly 20 years in prison for robbery and other charges has made him ready to help others.
"I have a 50-50 chance like my opponent has," he said. "There is nothing written in stone that she's supposed to win."
Independent candidates Curtiss Llong Bey, Marcus Lewis and Elizabeth Pahlke are also running, as is Green Party candidate LeAllen M. Jones.
Whoever wins will face extra scrutiny on ethics.
The three previous congressmen in the Chicago-area district left office under an ethical cloud.
Until his resignation, Jackson remained under a House Ethics Committee investigation over ties to ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. His predecessor, Mel Reynolds, left office in 1995 and was convicted of fraud and having sex with a minor. Before that, Gus Savage faced allegations of sexual misconduct with a Peace Corps worker while on a congressional visit overseas.
"There's a lot of hope (among voters) because she's had a pretty clean record so far," said Don Rose, a longtime political consultant in Chicago. "It'll be a while before she can become a leader but it's a matter of what she does."
Others are just skeptical of any new congressman's ability in Washington.
Ford Heights Mayor Charles Griffin, who also backed Jackson, said he's become frustrated with partisan politics and with the monthslong absence of a congressman in the Chicago-area district that has large pockets of unemployment and poverty.
"He had some influence," Griffin said. "When a freshman person goes in dealing with guys who are well-grounded and unwilling to negotiate, nothing's going to transfer. The fact is that she is almost facing an insurmountable task."
The district's last special election was 1995 when Jackson won office.
- Created on 08 April 2013
The funeral for acclaimed film reviewer Roger Ebert will be Monday at Holy Name Cathedral in downtown Chicago.
The legendary Chicago Sun-Times critic died Thursday at age 70 after a long battle with cancer. Ebert's service starts at 10 a.m. and will be open to friends and fans, but there will be limited seating. The newspaper says a memorial tribute also is scheduled for Thursday. Details for that ceremony are being finalized.
Ebert worked for the Chicago Sun-Times for more than 40 years. He found more fame when he partnered with Chicago Tribune film critic Gene Siskel on their long-running television movie review show.
Ebert's family asks that donations be sent to The Ebert Foundation instead of flowers. The nonprofit group supports arts and education programs.