<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:16:12 -0500 Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:16:12 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Who Would Best Replace Zayn Malik in One Direction?]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 16:08:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/1D+Ponce+edit.jpg

Could NBC5’s Anthony Ponce be the next member in the group One Direction?

Following news of the departure of bandmate Zayn Malik, there have been many questions surrounding who could replace the famed singer in the popular group.

Apparently, the Second City Network seems to think Anthony Ponce fits the bill, nominating him in a recent RedEye piece as one of few possible contenders with Chicago ties capable of taking the stage with the now foursome.

When he’s not talking into a microphone detailing the news on NBC Chicago, Ponce often spends his time playing the piano and singing (see for yourself).

He’s practically a part of a mini-boy band with his older brother Dan Ponce, the WGN reporter who can turn pretty much any story into a musical (watch him here). Dan Ponce was also among the nominees for potential Malik replacements from Chicago.

Who do you think would be the best Malik replacement? Vote below.


Photo Credit: Getty Images/NBCChicago]]>
<![CDATA[Rep. Duckworth to Announce 2016 Senate Bid: Report]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 15:47:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Tammy+Duckworth+ill+dept+of+veterans.jpg

Rep. Tammy Duckworth will reportedly announce a 2016 Senate bid next week.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports the Illinois Democrat will announce on Monday that she plans to run against Republican Sen. Mark Kirk.

The announcement will reportedly be followed by a fundraiser at the Hancock Center in Chicago.

The congresswoman said last month that she was considering running for the seat.

“I don't think I would be the first working mom bringing my baby with me everywhere,” Duckworth said in an exclusive interview with NBC Chicago. “If we can avoid a primary that would be great.”

Kirk, who suffered a stroke in 2012, plans to run for re-election.

Duckworth, an Iraqi war vet who lost her legs in a helicopter crash, recently had her first baby at the age of 46.

<![CDATA[10 Places to Carbo-Load Before Shamrock Shuffle]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 16:56:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/tlmd_congelar_para_ahorrar_06.jpg

The Pasta Bowl
Lincoln Park
2434 N Clark St.
(773) 525-2695


A photo posted by The Pasta Bowl (@thepastabowl) on

Topo Gigio
Old Town
1516 N Wells St.
(312) 266-9355


A photo posted by Scott Hanada (@scottimprov) on

Angelina Ristorante
3561 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 935-5933


A photo posted by potaeto (@potaeto) on

Chicago Bagel Authority
Lincoln Park, DePaul
953 W Armitage Ave
(773) 248-9606

Near North Side
626 N State St.
(312) 698-5000


A photo posted by Quartino (@quartinochicago) on

Panes Bread Café
3002 N Sheffield Ave.
(773) 665-0972


A photo posted by Olivia Rehrman (@olive_eats) on

Pizano’s Pizza
Near North Side
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 751-1766


A photo posted by David Martin (@davidrandallmartin) on

La Scarola
River West
721 W Grand Ave.
(312) 243-1740


A photo posted by @rasa_wander on

Sapori Trattoria
Lincoln Park
2701 N Halsted St.
(312) 967-9358

Volare Ristorante Italiano
Near North Side
201 E Grand Ave.
(312) 410-9900

Photo Credit: Pixabay]]>
<![CDATA[Conservative Money in City Council Race Sparks Controversy]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 14:22:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/172*120/082008-DOLLARS-P2.jpg

Former Chicago police officer and current city firefighter Anthony Napolitano has major labor endorsements in his bid to become the next alderman of the 41 ward, against incumbent Mary O’Connor. Even so, the challenger and union member has taken campaign contributions from a conservative group tied to anti-union efforts.

The Illinois Opportunity Project, an organization who describes themselves as promoting “principles of liberty and free enterprise” on their website, is opposed to raising Illinois’ minimum wage, expanding Medicaid, and advocates for the Illinois to opt-out of having its own state exchange for “Obamacare.”
The IOP has ties to the Illinois Policy Institute, an organization which supports the same law firm (the Liberty Justice Center) which earlier this week filed a motion in court to deny unions in Illinois from being able to collect the so-called fair share dues that Gov. Rauner also opposes. On Feb .19, the IOP donated $3,000 to Napolitano’s aldermanic campaign.
In January, the 43rd Ward Republicans organization donated $1,000 to the fireman.  Alderwoman Mary O’Connor blasted her challenger in the Northwest side ward’s race.
"Anthony should immediately return the money he received from the extremist groups supporting his campaign, and denounce their union-busting efforts. They have no place in the 41st ward,” she said in a statement.
For his part, Napolitano told Ward Room that his campaign will not return the campaign contributions from the conservative groups. “No, we are not going to give the money back,” he said.
“The greatest thing about this election is that it is a non-partisan election. We’ve received contributions from conservatives and liberals both. I’m supported by a local firefighters union that supported her in 2011 but now they don’t want her in office. I’m endorsed by the SEIU who endorsed her in 2011, but she failed them as well so they don’t want her in office. We’re a grassroots campaign, and so we take money from a lot of different groups.”
The challenger said the notion that he is in support of union-busting is laughable. “I’m the one who has been in a union for fifteen years,” he said.
“I’ve paid my union dues. I’ve shed blood, sweat and cried with union members. I pay into a pension and I will protect pensions. If anyone should be returning money it is her for taking money from O’Hare interest groups and then not calling a hearing about noise complaints from residents in the ward, even though she’s on the Aviation Committee.”
O’Connor believes that the symbolism of Napolitano taking money from groups who are attacking unions, is still wrong. “Families are sick and tired of the never ending assault on unions who give working people a collective voice,” she said.
“And, they deserve better than a candidate who takes money from the right-wing organizations pushing that very agenda.”
The IOP is connected to many issues other than labor ones, of course, including so-called “school reform.” Napolitano, who says he has not had concerns expressed to him of his support for organized labor by any of his labor supporters, also told us that he unequivocally supports neighborhood Chicago Public Schools.
“I support CPS. I have three children in Chicago public schools,” he said.
“I do not support charter schools, either. Flat-out. And, I support an elected school board.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bears Ink Ball to One-Year Deal ]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:16:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/alan-ball9.9.11.jpg

The Chicago Bears continued their trend of signing defensive players to one-year contracts this week, inking cornerback Alan Ball to a pact Friday morning.

Ball, who graduated from the University of Illinois and was drafted in the seventh round of the 2007 NFL Draft, has played for three different teams in his career, including the last two seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars. In those campaigns, Ball started 22 games, intercepting three passes and racking up 59 tackles. He missed the final nine games of last season with a biceps injury, but should be fully recovered to participate in Bears’ offseason workouts.

For the Bears, Ball represents another cornerback to potentially compete for a job with Kyle Fuller, Demontre Hurst, and Tim Jennings, among others. He also has some experience at the free safety position, but it’s unlikely he’ll play there after spending the last six seasons as a cornerback full-time.

He does have a bit of size, standing 6 feet, 2 inches and weighing in at 197 pounds, and the Bears have to hope that he can bring some physicality to the position that is lacking when guys like Jennings are on the field.

<![CDATA[Where Does Harry Reid's Departure Leave Sen. Durbin?]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 13:08:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP232834530121.jpg

Sen. Harry Reid's retirement announcement brings with it questions about whether Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin is interested in the minority leader role.

Durbin is currently the Democratic Whip in the Senate. 

Durbin released a statement praising Reid as “one of the ablest leaders of the Senate Democratic caucus in modern history,” but he did not suggest what his plans are going forward.

Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat, but Washington reporters have noticed he’s been avoiding the spotlight in recent years.  

Reid has already endorsed New York Sen. Charles Schumer to replace him, but a Durbin source told CNN Friday that,“it’s too soon to rule him out of the fight.”

Should Durbin challenge Schumer for the post, some note the move could send a message to liberal senators who want to break away from the image the party has become too closely tied to Wall Street.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Official: Ind. Boycott a "Tempest in a Teacup"]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:00:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Speros-Batistatos.jpg

The president of the South Shore Convention and Visitor's Bureau in Indiana says he doesn't expect the state's new "religious freedom" bill to have a negative impact on tourism.

"There's 31 other states that have bolstered religious freedom in some way or another -- Illinois being one of them, Texas being one of them, Florida being one of them -- and there was no appreciable change in business level," Speros Batistatos said Friday, one day after Gov. Mike Pence signed the controversial bill into law.

"This is, to me, a tempest in a teacup. We are going to be open for business. It's going to be business as usual," he said. 

The bill Pence signed prohibits state and local laws that "substantially" burden the ability of people -- including businesses and associations -- to follow their religious beliefs. The bill doesn't mention sexual orientation, but critics maintain it is harmful and amounts to a license to discriminate against gay and lesbian people. 

The governor's signature on Senate Bill 101 created a firestorm on social media, with residents, organizations and celebrities blasting the law and calling for boycotts of the state and its products and services: The president of the NCAA, which is headquartered in Indianapolis, issued a terse statement saying he was "concerned" about the law

"Outraged over Indiana Freedom to Discriminate law, signed today. LGBTs aren't 2nd class citizens.," actor George Takei -- of Star Trek fame -- wrote on Twitter. He appended his message with the hashtag #BoycottIndiana, which became a trending topic.

Former Secretary of State and presumptive presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wrote on Twitter that she was "sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today. We shouldn't discriminate against people because of who they love."

The American Civil Liberties Union said the law is particularly troubling because the state doesn't have a human rights law to counteract it. In Illinois, the Human Rights Act prohibits unlawful discrimination against any individual because of his or her race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation and more. Members of the ACLU claim the new Indiana law counters the state's recently passed marriage equality. 

Salesforce, Gen Con, and Yelp were among the companies who said the new law was making them re-evaluate their involvement in the state. Collectively, they bring millions of dollars to the state.

But supporters of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act say discrimination concerns are overblown because the bill is modeled after federal legislation that Clinton's husband, Bill Clinton, signed into law in 1993 while president.

They say the law is about not forcing anyone to have to participate in something they don't support or believe in because of their religion. 

Indiana's new law takes effect July 1.

Photo Credit: NBC Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[Autistic Boy Forced to Remove His Letter Jacket]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:40:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/LetterJacket.jpg A mother is outraged after her son's school forces him to remove a varsity letter jacket because special-needs athletes aren't allowed to wear the letters.]]> <![CDATA[Police: Soiled Diapers Being Dumped in NW Indiana]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 11:37:53 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/trash+in+nw+ind.jpg

The LaPorte County Sheriff’s office said two northwest Indiana towns have a littering problem, and it’s much stinkier than just trash.

Officials said seven months ago deputies noticed an increasing amount of white plastic bags filled with soiled diapers being dumped along roads in Galena and Springfield.

The bags were described as typical grocery store-style bags and were found along a number of area roadways.

On Wednesday, inmates from the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Jail started cleaning up trash left behind during the long winter. The crew picked up more than a truckload of garbage from the roadways.

"It's sad that in the short time [the crew has] been working, the truck is already full of extra-large bags holding all of this trash" said Sheriff John Boyd. "We have such a beautiful county and it's absolutely criminal that someone would continue to dump their trash along our roads.”

Police have asked anyone who may know the people contributing to the diaper “littering problem” or who witness trash being dumped to call the sheriff’s office.

Photo Credit: LaPorte County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Showers Possible for Shamrock Shuffle]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 11:01:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Shamrock_Shuffle_blurb_2014.jpg

Shamrock Shuffle runners could be showered with rain during the event this weekend.

While Sunday looks to warm up from the unseasonably cold temperatures forecast for Friday and Saturday, the area will likely see rain Sunday, and the rain could come early enough to impact runners.

The Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K begins at 8:30 a.m. in downtown Chicago and Grant Park. (Watch it live here)

With temperature highs reaching into the mid-40s Sunday, the warmth will be a welcomed relief for shufflers after snow fell across the Chicago area Friday.

But with the warmth comes another chance for rain. There is a chance for showers during the morning hours Sunday, particularly after 9 a.m. , but most of the rain looks to arrive in the city after 12 p.m.

Southerly winds will sit at around 15 to 25 mph.

The warm weather continues into next week with highs reaching into the 60s by Wednesday.

<![CDATA[Take Our News Quiz]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 10:33:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/5-NEWS-QUIZ-2.png

How well did you pay attention to local headlines this week? Take our five-question quiz to find out!

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<![CDATA[Wrigley Rooftop Owner Indicted for Fraud Charges]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 10:08:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/wrigley+field+rooftop+view.jpg

A Wrigleyville rooftop owner was indicted on federal fraud charges for allegedly scheming to withhold hundreds of thousands of dollars in dues to the Chicago Cubs, the state of Illinois, Cook County and the city of Chicago, U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon announced Friday.

Forty-six-year-old R. Marc Hamid, a Chicago resident and attorney licensed in Illinois, was charged with four counts of mail fraud in an indictment returned Thursday by a federal grand jury. The indictment claims he owes at least $600,000 in alleged fraud proceeds.

Hamid owned and operated the rooftop venue Skybox on Sheffield located beyond the right field wall and bleachers of Wrigley Field. He also owned and operated companies that purchased and re-sold tickets to entertainment and sporting events, including JustGreatTickets.com and Just Great Seats.

According to the indictment, Skybox allegedly submitted false annual royalty statements to the Cubs from 2008 to 2011, underreporting event attendance figures by thousands of paid attendees and underreporting revenues for the rooftop by a total of more than $1.5 million. The move reportedly kept Skybox from paying hundreds of thousands of dollars due to state and local taxing authorities.

The indictment claims Hamid falsely reported that Skybox had fewer than 200 attendees during events at the rooftop, complying with city ordinances that limit the number of attendees at rooftop events to 200 people. Hamid also allegedly diverted sales from Skybox to his ticket businesses to “conceal some of the rooftop revenues from the Cubs and others.”

Each count of mail fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or an alternate fine of twice the loss or twice the gain, whichever is greater.

The indictment comes amid a legal battle between the Cubs and rooftops owners.

On Monday, attorneys for the Cubs and two of the rooftops delivered seven hours of arguments in Chicago over whether Judge Virginia Kendall should order a halt to construction of a right-field sign until a wide-ranging lawsuit is resolved.

The rooftop businesses line streets outside Wrigley and offer views of Cubs games without going into the stadium. The Cubs have a revenue-sharing agreement with the private rooftop owners, but team owners say nothing in that 2004 deal prevents them putting up the video board and other signs that would obstruct the rooftop views.

<![CDATA[Light Snowfall Expected Through Morning]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 05:32:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/snow-032715-1.jpg

Chicago's Department of Streets and Sanitation early Friday deployed 200 snow plows and salt trucks to keep main streets clear from falling lake-effect snow.

Up to an inch of snow was predicted to fall in areas of Cook and Lake counties in Illinois and Lake County in Indiana. The snow was reducing visibility in some area.

Snowfall was expected to continue through the late morning.

The Streets and Sanitation trucks began their focus on arterial streets, Lake Shore Drive, hills, bridge decks, overpasses and "other vital public safety locations" overnight, according to a statement from the department. Residents can track the fleet online at ChicagoShovels.org.

Friday's afternoon high temperature is expected to be in the upper 20s and low 30s.

Saturday looks dry and mostly sunny with temperatures around 35 degrees. Sunday will be warmer, but those running in the Shamrock Shuffle could be dealing with some light rain by midday.  

Looking ahead into next week, conditions continue to gradually improve, with the mercury reaching into the 60s by Wednesday and Thursday.

<![CDATA[Chicago Bulls Playoff Tickets on Sale Friday]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 17:57:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/839764441.jpg

Chicago Bulls tickets for the eight games in the 2015 NBA Playoffs Rounds 1 and 2 will go on sale on Friday at 11 a.m., the team announced Thursday.

Tickets can be purchased by visiting Bulls.com, NBATickets.com or by calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX.

All fans are encouraged to wear red when attending home playoff games.

Details on game times, dates and opponents will be released by the NBA after the regular season ends.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Predators' Playoff Ticket Policy Looks to Keep Out Hawks Fans]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 17:44:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*130/480240741.jpg

It appears the Nashville Predators don't want Blackhawks fans at their arena during this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Two years ago Bears fans invaded downtown Nashville, drank them dry and took over the Titans' stadium. Five years ago Blackhawks fans took over Bridgestone Arena en route to a Stanley Cup Playoff series win.

"I can't tell you how many games on the road felt like home games," said Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville. 

Even this past December, Blackhawks fans counted in at more than 5,000 in Nashville, storming Bridgestone Arena as the Hawks defeated the Predators on their home ice.

"Fans on the road are unbelievable," said Hawks forward Kris Versteeg. 

It's no surprise then that the Predators are putting their sticks down on Blackhawk fans, searching for ways to keep them from buying any playoff tickets in Nashville.

As it stands, the Hawks could meet the Predators in the first round of the playoffs.

Predators playoff tickets go on sale this weekend. The tickets will be available Saturday at Kroger stores only in Tennessee and Sunday at Bridgestone Arena in Tennessee, according to the Tennessean.  Monday you can buy tickets online, but only if you have a Tennessee zip code.

"You'd like home ice but if not, that's okay," said Quenneville. 

The Blackhawks don't have an out-of-town ticket policy and they don't need one with 313 consecutive sellouts at the United Center.

Looks like Blackhawks fans will need to find friends in Nashville to buy Tennessee playoff tickets.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks Ink Kyle Baun to NHL Contract]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 17:07:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/185*120/cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptljmmu5zwq1nzhhnzzlmdvkzjlmndjiymqzy2uynmex.jpeg

With players like Drew LeBlanc and Matt Carey, the Chicago Blackhawks have made it a point in recent seasons to pluck talented collegiate free agents out of those ranks, and they continued that trend on Thursday as they inked Colgate forward Kyle Baun to a contract.

The deal, which was first reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie, gives the Blackhawks a talented forward with scoring touch and solid passing ability. In three seasons at Colgate, Baun has scored 39 goals and dished out 40 assists, and he has been lauded for his power play skill at the collegiate level.

According to Baun’s agent, the forward will report directly to the Blackhawks, which means he could make his NHL debut at some point over the next few games. Like Carey and LeBlanc before him, Baun will probably get a game or two to give him some run at the NHL level (and give another forward a brief rest during the stretch run), and then he’ll be sent down to the Rockford IceHogs before being recalled after the season as a “black ace” reserve player.

Since Baun is signing this late in the season, he will not be eligible to be included on the Blackhawks’ postseason roster.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[What Does High Early Vote Turnout Mean for Chicago's Election?]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 17:03:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/230*120/tlmd_brightcove_2067658930001_4115564223001_tlmd_foro_presupuesto.jpg

Not even a springtime snowstorm could dampen what has been an enthusiastic start to early voting for Chicago’s April 7 runoff election. In the first two days of early voting, this week, nearly twice as many Chicagoans voted than did in the first two days of early voting in February’s initial municipal election.

After day three, Wednesday, unofficial vote totals showed that 33,527 Chicago residents had cast votes, early. The votes came from all 50 wards that make up Chicago, and voters have been going to the polls to vote to decide the next mayor.
Additionally, 19 wards are also holding runoff elections for aldermanic seats. That may be an unprecedented number of city council runoff elections, in addition to a relatively right mayoral race.
It is clear that Chicago voters have jumped out to a quick start in this runoff election, but determining what it will all mean for campaigns is impossible, at this point. Does the high initial early vote turnout mean that more voters will cast ballots than did last month?
Perhaps not. After all, early voting was initially up before the Feb. 24 election, as well, but in the end, turnout for that election was much weaker than it was in 2011.
More initial energy could simply mean that the same amount of voters are excited enough to get the exercise out of the way, off the bat, and not that more and different voters are taking part in this election. As of Wednesday evening, some of the wards with the most runoff early votes took place in those with runoff aldermanic races.
Some of those are wards have aldermen who support Mayor Rahm Emanuel for reelection, and others are in areas where elected officials support challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. In either case, we can’t yet know how much mechanical support is being given to either mayoral candidate from local leaders who may be preoccupied with getting themselves reelected, and who may not have enough political support or goodwill among voters themselves to share.
Chicago politics and elections expert Dick Simpson, the head of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Political Science Department tells us that, since its inception in Chicago, early voting turnout has increased with every election. “Turnout in early voting election has increased in every election, including in last month’s election, even though overall vote was down,” he says.
Simpson predicts that overall voter turnout will be much higher for the April 7 election, than it was last month. “Early voting suggests that we will have a much greater vote than the 33 percent of people who voted in February. I believe that it will be more than 50 percent, but there is really no way to tell,” he goes on.
Overall, Simpson guesses that the high early voting turnout favors Garcia. “A lot will also have to do with aldermanic elections, but my guess is that early voting is favoring Garcia because his campaign has pushed campaign workers and others to vote early,” he explained.
Ward Room contacted representatives for both Emanuel and Garcia, and both campaigns expressed optimism that the high runoff early voting turnout bodes well for their guy’s chances.
A representative from the Emanuel campaign told us that the Mayor has been “strongly encouraging Chicagoans to cast their ballots early while he’s out knocking on doors and calling voters.”
The representative also told us that Emanuel’s campaign considers early voting “a critical piece of this election,” because it “gives more Chicagoans the chance to vote in an election where the stakes are so high.”
Garcia’s campaign manager told us that the Cook County Commissioner’s campaign operation, which performed quite well last month, is “more seasoned,” and that Garcia’s people are now “treating every day like election day, at this point.”
Sharp also told us that on any given day this week, Garcia’s campaign sends out between three and four hundred canvassers directly to the homes of Chicago voters. He also said that they are holding vote rallies in communities across the city.
“We’ve got 10 field offices around the city, we’ve spent time identifying thousands of voters, and now the focus is on turning them out to vote,” he said.
In Sharp’s mind, the high voter turnout in the runoff election’s early voting period includes a lot of voters who didn’t participate in last month’s initial election. As the campaign manager for the underdog challenger, potentially new and motivated voters encourage Sharp.
“We are very excited by the turnout levels we’ve seen so far. I’ve said all along that in the runoff there was going to be a whole new group of voters engaged who did not vote the first time around. People get the sense that we’re in the playoffs, now,” he reasoned.
Sharp acknowledged that because of their candidate’s late entry into the race last fall, the Garcia campaign perhaps didn’t enough time to register a great deal of new voters. However, their campaign believes that they are still in a much better position to beat Emanuel than the latest polls might indicate.
In the Feb. election, Garcia’s vote totals far exceeded where most public polling numbers had him throughout the race. Now, about 15 points behind Emanuel in some polling, Sharp says that the Garcia campaign’s own internal polling paint a much different picture.
“Public polling consistently underrepresents Commissioner Garcia’s support by about 10 to 14 percent,” he told us.
“From our own internal polling, we feel like we’re in a strong position to win this election.”

<![CDATA[Three Injured After Car Crashes Into Restaurant in Big Rock]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 16:37:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/big+rock+cafe.jpg

Three people were injured after a pickup truck crashed into a restaurant west of Chicago Thursday afternoon.

The 71-year-old driver of the truck pulled into the parking lot of Big Rock Cafe in the Village of Big Rock at about 1 p.m. He then allegedly hit the gas pedal instead of the brakes and crashed the truck into the kitchen area of the restaurant, according to the Kane County sheriff's office.

Two employees in the kitchen were injured in the incident as well as the driver. One of the employees and the driver were transported to an Aurora hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

There were three customers inside the restaurant at the time of the crash, but they were not injured.

The driver was cited for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.

Big Rock Cafe will be closed until until the damaged area has been restored, officials said.

Photo Credit: NBC Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[Controversial Beer Pulled From Shelves at Binny’s]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 18:10:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/sweetwater5.jpg

If you’re looking for a Happy Ending – meaning SweetWater Brewing Co.’s popular craft beer that was rolled out in Chicago this week – you won’t be able to find it at Binny’s Beverage Depot in Lincoln Park, as the store has deemed it too controversial for their shelves.

Craft beer makers aim to create products with a look and taste that stands out from their mainstream competitors, but to Binny’s Lincoln Park beer manager Adam Vavrick they sometimes go too far.

"This label is about a female Asian sex worker manually masturbating a man to orgasm and cleaning up the ejaculate with tissues," Vavrick told The Chicago Tribune’s resident spirits columnist Josh Noel. "Why is that appropriate on a beer label?"

Vavrick does not stand alone in his stance against beer makers who roll out sexist product labels. He told the publication he only pulled it from shelves after others brought it to his attention and were “visibly upset” by the image. His co-workers agreed.

The founder of metro Minneapolis craft beer retailer The Four Firkins, Jason Alvery, wrote about the same issue in a recent blog post where he says he’s sadly had to pull “blatantly misogynistic” beers more than once.

Alvery pointed out that many craft breweries “seem to forget that their customer base is not exclusively 23-year-old-guys,” and even if it was, he knows, “plenty of 23-year-old guys who are mature enough to realize these labels are terrible.”

One product, he referred to as the most offensive one he’s seen in his career. The beer was called “Mt. U Cream Ale,” and you can imagine the art direction the label designers went in with that not-so-subtle innuendo.

As for SweetWater Brewing Co.’s Happy Ending, the founder Freddy Bensch told the Trib despite the controversy, it was just supposed to be a joke and that no harm was intended.

Which brings up another point from Alvery’s blog post. He spoke to Ben McCoy, the owner of branding and web specialist company Bicycle Theory, who didn’t have to hear Bensch’s side of the story to expect what he might say.

“Some may say, 'Relax, it’s just a joke.'” McCoy said. “And that’s great. If your brand is a joke.”

McCoy went on to comment that although spurring controversy with suggestive sexual innuendos may help sales in the short-term, male-dominated industries often forget that it is not going to broaden a brand’s reach for the long-run.

“It may spur a few individuals to pick one up for fun, but it also objectifies half the population,” he told Alvery. “And over the long-term, this approach will almost certainly create more problems than it’s worth.”

Photo Credit: BeerPulse.com]]>
<![CDATA[Karen Lewis Lunches With Chuy Garcia]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 19:35:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/karen+lewis+chuy.jpg

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis met mayoral candidate Jesus "Chuy" Garcia for lunch Thursday, just weeks before Chicago voters decide who will be the next mayor of Chicago.

Lewis had considered a run for mayor but was unable to do so when she fell ill in September and was diagnosed with brain cancer. Lewis and the CTU later endorsed Garcia for mayor before he went on to force a runoff election with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. 

"If you had a wish what would it be?" Lewis asked Garcia during the outing.

Garcia said he would hope that voters cast their ballots early. Roughly 22,000 voters cast ballots in the first two days of early voting -- a record for a municipal election. 

Garcia said he continues to fundraise to keep his commercials on the air through April 7, having traveled to Los Angeles and New York during his efforts.

Garcia has faced criticism over his lack of specifics during his campaign, particularly on how he plans to fix the city's budgeting woes. Emanuel has offered his budget plan, but it relies on Springfield to agree to not only a Chicago casino but to expanding the sales tax.

Reporters on Thursday asked Lewis if Garcia can be tough enough to negotiate contracts with unions and come up with answers to the city's pension crisis.

"What does tough mean?" Lewis said. "The issues are, let's look at what caused the problem to see how to solve the problem." 

Photo Credit: Mary Ann Ahern]]>
<![CDATA[Andrew "Hamburglar" Hammond Lifting Senators Toward Playoff Glory]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:15:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/467337528.jpg

The Ottawa Senators were well out of the playoff race and seemingly dead in the water this season, but once goaltender Andrew Hammond came into the picture, things turned around in a hurry.

With just 10 games to go in the regular season, the Senators have won seven games in a row and have won nine of their last 10 games, and they find themselves with a one point lead over the Boston Bruins for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. That recent surge has been keyed by the incredible play of Hammond, who has a sparkling 14-0-1 record with a 1.67 goals against average and a .946 save percentage.

Hammond's rise to prominence in the NHL was a surprising development for the Senators, who were relying on veteran goaltender (and former Chicago Blackhawks goalie) Craig Anderson. After he aggravated a hand injury recently, and Robin Lehner was also knocked out of action with an injury, Hammond was forced to play games as the starter, and he has since gone on a run that is nearly unrivalled in NHL history. 

Hammond is only the second goaltender in NHL history to allow two or fewer goals in each of his first 12 career starts, becoming the first since Frank Brimsek accomplished the feat in the 1938-39 season to achieve that milestone. 

What’s more remarkable about Hammond than his incredible rise to fame has been the way fans have responded to it. Nicknamed “The Hamburglar,” Hammond’s victories have been punctuated by fans throwing hamburgers onto the ice at Senators home games, and after one such game Hammond actually ate the burger in celebration.

Now though, the Senators and Hammond are looking to turn the phenomenon into something positive for society. The team is asking fans to donate money to local food banks in the Ottawa area, and Senators head coach Dave Cameron was enthusiastic about the idea.

“I thought that was a great idea and sometimes you appreciate the support and enthusiasm of your fans, but sometimes it can be channeled in a better way and I would certainly back that up,” he said.

Senators’ fans embracing Hammond got us to thinking: what food items would fans throw on the ice for their favorite Chicago Blackhawks players? Doughnuts for Duncan Keith? Candy canes for Patrick Kane? Swedish meatballs for Niklas Hjalmarsson?

We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[CPS Launches "Parent Universities" at Select Schools]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 14:54:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/principal-awards.jpg

Chicago Public Schools launched a new program Thursday for parents that allows them to earn "digital badges" when they complete new lessons.

The program, called "Parent University," will start at three schools: Roberto Clemente High School in Humboldt Park, Sir Miles Davis Magnet Elementary in West Englewood and Spencer Technology Academy in Austin.

"We are inviting parents and community members to engage in the learning process while also providing students in Chicago Public Schools to have real life exposure to what it means to be a life-long learner," CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in a statement.

Parents can participate in the program for free, and enrollment is not mandatory. If they do enroll, they will earn digital badges as they progress from one lesson to the next, according to CPS. The program also says parents could use the badges as "an indicator of achievement to colleges and employers."

The program is part of an initiative begun by Mayor Rahm Emanuel that previously built 31 parent engagement centers throughout the city.

The "Parent University" at each school will be equipped with a computer lab, a parent resource room, an office area and an activity room, according to CPS.

<![CDATA[Fall Out Boy to Play at Cubs Home Opener Next Week ]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:40:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/183*120/494962577.jpg

Fans of Chicago sports have become intimately familiar with the band Fall Out Boy over the past few years, and they’ll have yet another chance to hear the band perform as they will play three songs before the Chicago Cubs’ home opener against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 5.

The group has become a fixture on the Chicago sports scene in recent years, putting their own spin on the Chicago Bulls’ rally tune “Only the Bulls” and had their song “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” become the unofficial anthem of the Chicago Blackhawks’ 2013 Stanley Cup championship, as NBC played the song for NHL promos during that playoff run.

“Wrigley Field has always been a magical place for me,” Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz said. “In some ways I can chart milestones of my life and growing up there – from going to see Andre Dawson and Ryne Sandberg play, to going with my dad to one of the first night games they ever had there. It’s been a lifetime dream to get the chance to play at Wrigley Field.”

The band’s performance at Wrigley Field will feature three songs, including the tune “Centuries,” which will be aired to a national TV audience on ESPN before the game gets underway. Gates for the game will open slightly earlier than usual, with fans allowed to enter the park at 4:30 p.m. instead of the usual 5:05 p.m. entry time for night games.

<![CDATA[Kraft-Heinz Merger Could Mean No More Jell-O: Report]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 13:39:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Jell-O-theft.jpg

The beginning of ketchup mac and cheese could mean the end of Jell-O.

The recently announced merger between Kraft Foods and H.J. Heinz Co. could leave some poorly performing brands in the lurch, including the childhood favorite Jell-O, according to the Chicago-based investment research firm Morningstar.

"Despite multiple stabs at putting the Jell-O brand on more stable ground ... the business continues to falter. We think management may now opt to reallocate investment dollars toward more profitable initiatives," Erin Lash, a senior equity analyst for Morningstar, said in a report.

Heinz, which is based in Pittsburgh, announced it was buying Illinois-based Kraft Wednesday. The company will acquire all Kraft brands, including Capri Sun, Cool Whip, Kool-Aid, Oscar Mayer and Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

The companies plan to close the deal in the second half of this year.

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Soldier, Cousin Tried to Join ISIS: Pros.]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 21:39:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*123/handcufss+steel.jpg

A U.S. Army National Guard soldier and his cousin have been charged with conspiring to support ISIS, federal prosecutors say.

Army National Guard Specialist Hasan Edmonds, 22, and Jonas Edmonds, 29, both from the suburban Chicago community of Aurora, are accused of plotting to provide material support and resources to the terror organization, U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon announced Thursday.

They also allegedly planned to use Army uniforms and military knowledge to attack a U.S. military facility in northern Illinois.

According to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday, the pair allegedly devised a plan in late 2014 for Hasan Edmonds to travel overseas and use his military training to fight on behalf of ISIS. As part of the plan, Hasan Edmonds booked a flight scheduled to leave Wednesday from Chicago and arrive in Cairo Thursday.

Both men also met with an FBI undercover employee to present a plot to carry out an armed attack against the military facility where Hasan Edmonds had been training, according to the complaint. As part of the plan, Jonas Edmonds and the undercover officer would use Hasan Edmonds’ uniforms and his knowledge of the facility to access the grounds and target officers for the attack.

“Disturbingly, one of the defendants currently wears the same uniform of those they allegedly planned to attack,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin said in a statement.

Hasan Edmonds was arrested at Midway Airport during an attempt to fly to Egypt, and Jonas Edmonds was arrested at his home in Aurora, prosecutors say. Both were charged with conspiring to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization.

"We will pursue and prosecute with vigor those who support ISIL and its agenda of ruthless violence," said U.S. Attorney Fardon. "Anyone who threatens to harm our citizens and allies, whether abroad or here at home, will face the full force of justice."

Conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

"Upon learning of the investigation, our effortsand priorities focused on ensuring the safety of our Soldiers, Airmen, and their Families," said Brad Leighton, public affairs director for the Illinois National Guard. "We have remained in communication with federal authorities throughout the process, which culminated in the arrest by federal officers of Hasan Rasheed Edmonds last night."

<![CDATA[Lollapalooza Lineup Receives "C" Average in Unofficial Survey]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 11:28:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/lollapalooza+clean+up.jpg

The Lollapalooza lineup announced Wednesday apparently made a passing grade, but it did not wow potential festival-goers.

NBC Chicago asked viewers what grade they would give the lineup, and 26 percent of them marked it as a "C" average. About 19 percent gave the lineup a "B," and another 19 percent gave it an "F." A total of 1,076 people responded to our survey.

The headline acts for the three-day festival are Paul McCartney, Metallica and Florence + the Machine. Other big-name acts include Sam Smith, Bassnectar, The Weeknd and The Chainsmokers.

Last year's acts included Eminem, Outkast, Kings of Leon, Lorde and the Avett Brothers. In 2013, The Cure, Mumford and Sons, The Killers and Nine Inch Nails, among others, performed at the festival.

Discounted three-day passes went on sale the day before the 2015 lineup was announced and sold out in less than two hours.

The festival takes place in Grant Park from July 31 through Aug. 2.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Honoring Chicagoland's Fallen Heroes]]> Sat, 10 Nov 2012 20:11:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/american-flag1.jpg NBC Chicago salutes the men and women in the armed forces who have died in combat.

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Opinion: Why Jesse Jr. Could Make a Comeback]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 10:37:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/jesse-jackson-jr-deja-prision.jpg

After being released from prison early, and into a halfway home, Jesse Jackson Jr.’s father, Reverend Jesse Jackson, said that his son is “half way home,” and that he won’t be satisfied until he’s completely free. All true and understandable enough, coming from a loving father.

However, how close is the former U.S. congressman to getting back into public life and, possibly, public office, again? On its face, the notion of a convicted and humiliated former U.S. Rep. thinking about running for office again may seem ludicrous.
After all, Jackson is not even done with his term, yet. And, his wife, former Chicago City Council member Sandi Jackson, will have a year of prison to serve afterwards, for her role in their scams involving public money.
Moreover, the 2nd Illinois Congressional district that Jackson Jr. represented for so long now has Robin Kelly at the helm, who has proven pretty popular thus far. And, 2nd district voters would have to be tired of corrupted men representing them in the nation’s capital, after the last three federal reps have gone down to embarrassing scandal, often involving criminal activity, right?
Perhaps. But, they have also likely grown quite accustomed to it as well.
Gus Savage served six terms as the 2nd district’s U.S. representative, despite multiple anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic statements, as well as an inappropriate sexual advance on a Peace Corps worker during an official trip to Zaire where the congressman partied it up, a Congressional Ethics Investigation found. When he was finally unseated, it was by Mel Reynolds, a former Rhodes Scholar who appeared to be a breath of fresh air and promise for the people of the 2nd district.
While still in office, three years later, Reynolds was convicted on multiple counts of sexual assault, solicitation of child pornography, and obstruction of justice. While serving prison time for those convictions, Reynolds was later convicted on unrelated bank fraud and other criminal financial dealings.
None of that stopped Reynolds from running for office again when he left prison. Or, for being arrested in Zimbabwe for overstaying his visa and for possessing pornography (a crime in that country).
The bank fraud conviction was commuted by President Clinton before he left office, and the pornography charges in Zimbabwe were eventually dropped. Reynolds did end up pleading guilty to violating immigration law.
Jackson Jr. is, of course, neither Savage nor Reynolds. He is, in fact, much more popular than either of them.
While his personal and professional world crumbled all around him amid investigations and revealed scandal, and while criminal charges seemed imminent, Jackson Jr.’s political support among constituents stayed strong. Jackson Jr. easily won reelection in 2012 with over 70 percent of the vote, despite retreating from the public eye amidst an avalanche of controversy.
That isn’t to say that Jackson Jr. would have an easy road to returning to public life or elected office. There’s no telling yet if he even has that desire.
However, he’s likely young enough, with enough family money and community popularity to make it a distinct possibility in the future. After all, extramarital dalliances and audacious and tacky spending have never really been an impermeable wall for politicians.
In America, and in Illinois, neither are criminal convictions. 

Photo Credit: Telemundo / Archivo]]>
<![CDATA[Lands' End Recalls Children's Pajamas for Flammability Risk]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 10:44:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/lands+ends+pajamas.jpg

The clothing retailer Lands' End issued a recall for several styles of children's pajamas after a test showed they posed an unreasonable risk of catching on fire.

The Dodgeville, Wisc., company recalled 25 potentially affected pajama styles that were purchased between January 2014 and February 2015.

The pajamas were only sold online and through the Lands' End Kids catalog and were not available in stores. Lands' End will reach out to all customers directly and will credit their full purchase as well as issue a $15 Lands' End gift card, the company said in a statement.

Lands' End asks customers who purchased the pajamas to stop wearing them immediately and return them to the company, which will provide a prepaid U.S. Postal Service label.

According to Lands' End, the pajamas passed the initial safety tests. The flammability issue was discovered by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, who tested one of the sleepwear styles after it was already available for purchase and determined it did not meet federal flammability standards for children's sleepwear. Lands' End then recalled 25 styles that were purchased from the same vendor.

The pajamas were imported from China, according to Lands' End. The clothing company did not buy any other products from the vendor in question.

For more information on the recall, click here.

Photo Credit: Lands' End]]>
<![CDATA[Has JJJr. Repaid His Debt to Society?]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 10:13:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/flash+survey+new.jpg

Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was released from an Alabama prison Thursday morning after serving more than a year for illegally spending $750,000 in campaign funds.



<![CDATA[Potential Bears Draft Targets: Amari Cooper]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 09:48:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000011610310_1200x675_417429571893.jpg

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be profiling 10 of the players that the Chicago Bears could be eye-balling to take with the number seven overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. We’ll be evaluating where they would fit in with the Bears, what teams could potentially pick them off ahead of Chicago, and ultimately whether or not the Bears should take them.

So as not to spoil our mock draft, we’ll go alphabetically through the list, and that decision brings us to the SEC today as we take a look at University of Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper.

The Details:

If a fan were to bet on which offensive skill position player is going to have the best NFL career, a smart investment would be putting money down on Cooper. In the 2014 season with the Crimson Tide, Cooper racked up 124 receptions for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns, and he continued to impress at the NFL Combine as he ran a 4.42 second 40-yard dash and had a 33 inch vertical leap.

He isn’t the fastest receiver, and he doesn’t jump the highest, but when it comes to pure skill and playmaking ability, Cooper has got it in spades.

What He’d Bring to the Bears:

The Bears’ offensive strategy over the past two seasons has been to throw the ball up in the air and let Brandon Marshall or Alshon Jeffery come down with it. With Marshall now with the New York Jets, the team can add some versatility to their wide receiver ranks, and Cooper fits that bill. He isn’t blazing fast by any stretch, but he does add speed to the equation and will give the Bears a legitimate deep ball threat down the field, and Jay Cutler would potentially find a new favorite target.

Other Teams That Could Target Him:

Outside of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it seems as though just about every team picking ahead of the Bears could use a player like Cooper. The Oakland Raiders could be a good bet at the fourth position, and the New York Jets could use the sixth pick on him if they don’t get a chance to go after Marcus Mariota. Cooper could even go as high as number two depending on what the Tennessee Titans do.

Should the Bears Take Him?

We may hem and haw over some of the players on this list, but if the Bears get a chance to take Cooper, they would be silly not to. He is a potential game-breaking player for an offense that is going to be interesting to watch as they try to replace Marshall (and get the most out of Cutler), and Adam Gase will likely be lobbying hard for Ryan Pace to pull the trigger and draft Cooper if he’s available in the seven slot.

<![CDATA[NFL Prospect Randy Gregory Fails Drug Test ]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 09:02:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/11+Randy+Gregory.jpg

In a revealing interview on Wednesday, Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory admitted that he tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.

Gregory, our #11 draft prospect, was expected to be a top-10 pick in the first round of the NFL Draft in April, but all of that is up in the air now as the star told Kimberly Jones of the NFL Network that he was notified of the failed test two weeks ago by his father.

“I blame myself,” he told her. “And I know it sounds cliché, but there’s really no one else I can blame.”

In his junior season with the Cornhuskers, Gregory racked up 54 total tackles, including eight and a half for loss.

He had 17.5 sacks in his two seasons in Lincoln, and after a solid performance in Indianapolis at the Combine, it was assumed that he was going to be one of the first defensive ends taken off the board when the draft takes place.

With that failed test however, his draft stock is going to take a serious hit. He may still go in the first round, but teams generally try to avoid players who are going to have issues before they even enter the league. Christian Jones is a good example, as the linebacker was likely going to be a second round pick before a failed drug test led to him having to sign with the Bears as an undrafted free agent.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gas Leak Prompts Evacuations, But Not of Nearby Hospital]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 06:45:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/gas-leak4.jpg


Peoples Gas crews were called to a neighborhood on Chicago's South Side Wednesday night to look into a gas leak after residents reported hearing a loud booming noise and a hissing sound.

"You could physically see a dust-like, storm-like whirl up in the air," said one resident. 

Several homes in the area of East 79th Street and South Crandon Avenue were evacuated as a precautionary measure, Peoples Gas spokeswoman Jennifer Block told NBC Chicago.

Authorities said nearby South Shore Hospital was not affected. 

"A warming bus was made available while our technicians turned off the flow of gas and ventilated four multi unit buildings," Block said in an email. "Customers are back in their homes and service has been restored to properties where customers gave access for appliances to be checked and safely relit."

There was no word on a cause of the leak as of 6 a.m.

Photo Credit: Brad Bartley, Network Video Productions]]>