<![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 Sat, 31 Jan 2015 07:29:39 -0600 Sat, 31 Jan 2015 07:29:39 -0600 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Kane's Two Goals Lead Blackhawks Past Ducks 4-1]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 23:51:51 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/459630364.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks faced a stern challenge in playing against the NHL-leading Anaheim Ducks on Friday night, but Patrick Kane’s two goals and Patrick Sharp’s four assists helped them to a decisive 4-1 victory.

Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith also scored goals for the Blackhawks, and Corey Crawford made 21 as the Hawks bounced back from a tough loss to the Los Angeles Kings earlier in the week.

After the Blackhawks killed off an early Keith penalty, the Blackhawks got a great possession from their loaded up post-PK line and scored the game’s first goal. Kane fired a pass into the far face-off circle for Toews, who had to readjust and bring the puck back to his forehand.

With Frederik Andersen sliding across the crease, Toews fired a wrist shot just inside the far post of the goal, and just five and a half minutes into the game the Hawks led 1-0.

As the period came to an end, the Ducks had several good chances to score, but Crawford was able to make a couple of key saves, including back-to-back saves on a 2-on-1 Anaheim rush. The saves ended up leading the Hawks into the locker room with their one-goal advantage intact, and they also led in shots on goal 13-7.

The second period got started with the Blackhawks failing to score on a power play, but they continued to dominate possession time, and eventually they took advantage. After a nice play by Sharp to keep the puck in the zone, Keith lined up a slapshot from the high slot and ripped a slap shot past Andersen to make it a 2-0 game.

Just a few minutes later, the Blackhawks scored again. Ryan Getzlaf was stripped of the puck near center ice by Sharp, and the Hawks’ winger drove through the blue line and passed back to a streaking Kane. Kane got around the defense, found an open lane, and rifled a wrist shot past Andersen and just under the crossbar to make it a 3-0 game late in the period.

Crawford did have to make one more save late in the frame as a clearing shot by Francois Beauchemin hit Bryan Bickell and deflected on net, but his pad save kept the shutout intact through 40 minutes.

That shutout didn’t last through a power play near the middle of the third period as the Ducks finally got on the board. Rickard Rikell made an excellent play breaking into the zone as he pushed a pass over to Corey Perry, and as Rikell drove to the net he got the puck back and flipped a shot past Crawford to make it a 3-1 game.

The Blackhawks did end up getting a key insurance goal with six and a half minutes left, as Sharp got a puck along the boards and fired a pass to the middle of the ice. Kane put his stick down and forced the puck past Andersen, and the 4-1 lead the goal gave Chicago stood as they knocked off the West’s top team.

For their next game, the Blackhawks will head north to San Jose for a Saturday night showdown against the Sharks.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fremd High School Senior Charged With Sending Explicit Email]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 22:31:53 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ct-kuznitsky-arrest-jpg-20150130.jpg

An 18-year-old Fremd High School senior was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor Friday for sending an explicit image in an email to students earlier this week, police said. 

Alec Kuznitsky of Schaumburg confessed to sending the “graphic and offensive” image to a Fremd staff member Friday after the email sparked a police investigation, according to authorities.

Palatine Police said Kuznitsky echoed his admission to authorities, telling investigators he was solely responsible for the controversial message sent to his suburban Palatine classmates Tuesday night.

Kuznitsky is scheduled to appear in court March 10.

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<![CDATA[Girlfriend of Man Fatally Shot by Police in 2013 Files Lawsuit]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:49:24 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_court_gavel_generic_law.jpg

A woman who says she was inside an SUV with a man when he was fatally shot by a Chicago Police officer in south suburban Hazel Crest almost two years ago has filed a federal lawsuit against the city.

Ryan Rogers, 27, was killed in the shooting that happened March 20, 2013 in the 1900 block of West 171st Street, authorities said at the time. L’nea Lancaster was in the vehicle with him when an officer opened fire, according to the suit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court.

Police at the time said detectives were conducting surveillance when Rogers and a female companion got into the vehicle. One of the officers then opened fire “in fear for his life” when Rogers accelerated the vehicle towards them, police said.

An autopsy found Rogers was shot in the back and his death was ruled a homicide, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Lancaster identified herself as Rogers’ girlfriend in an interview with the Sun-Times days after the shooting. Her suit does not name Rogers, referring only to a “friend” shot while driving the vehicle. A bullet pierced her seat in the SUV but did not strike her, according to the suit.

Police never identified themselves to the couple, and Rogers thought he was being robbed, Lancaster told the Sun-Times in March 2013.

In the suit, Lancaster claims that after the driver was shot, she took the wheel of the SUV and pulled over when she saw flashing lights behind her and realized it was the police.

Officers then “dragged her out of the vehicle” and put her into custody for about seven hours, causing “emotional and psychological damages,” the suit says.

A spokesman for the city’s law department said officials hadn’t yet reviewed the suit and declined to comment.

The three-count false arrest suit seeks an unspecified amount in damages and also names six Chicago Police officers as defendants.

Jacqueline Armstrong, Rogers’ mother, filed a federal lawsuit against the police officers days after the shooting, claiming one of them fatally shot Rogers “without just cause or just provocation,” that suit said. Her case is still pending with a status hearing scheduled for April 14, according to court records.

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<![CDATA[Cicero Orders Church to Close Due to Safety Violations]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:36:02 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000010838578_1200x675_391668803644.jpg The Town of Cicero ordered a church closed immediately Thursday for allegedly ignoring life-threatening physical hazards.]]> <![CDATA[Gov. Rauner: Quinn to Blame for Medical Marijuana Mess]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:10:39 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/455977082.jpg

Governor Bruce Rauner fired his strongest salvo yet Friday, over Pat Quinn’s failure to launch medical marijuana in Illinois.

“Let’s talk about this medical marijuana mess that Governor Quinn created, then ran away from,” Rauner said. “Apparently he made arbitrary decisions about disqualifying people, and who could play and who could not, different from what the legislation authorized, and the law required.”

After indicating that the licensing of growers and sellers would be completed by the end of 2014, the Quinn administration punted the licensing process, unfinished, to their successors, indicating only that there was more work to be done. And Rauner indicated he was reviewing the whole program with a wary eye.

“We owe a duty to the taxpayers, and we owe a duty to the families of the state to check the process and make sure that it’s done right, according to law,” he said. “I was elected to enforce the law, but we’re also going to make sure that things are done right, and the taxpayers and the families are protected.”

The new chief executive did not confine his Quinn criticisms to pot, taking his predecessor to task for the state of Illinois finances, and stopping just short of accusing Quinn of fraud.

“Governor Quinn has been fundamentally dishonest with the voters and the taxpayers about this budget,” he said. “We really didn’t have a budget. They made up some numbers to get through the election cycle, because they didn’t want to be honest about whether they wanted to push a tax hike.”

Rauner accused Quinn of actions which he warned were “actually unconstitutional."

“What Governor Quinn did was make up some numbers for different departments to get through the election, but he went to the different department heads and said, ‘You can ignore that appropriation level—we had to make up a number to get through this—you can spend what you feel is appropriate and we’ll deal with it after the election, and hike taxes after the election and try to deal with it.’”

Appearing at the groundbreaking of a new charter school on Chicago’s west side, Rauner did not indicate exactly what raised his concerns about the marijuana program and what his timetable might be. But the new governor suggested a decision would come soon.

“We’re going to do it on a timely basis,” he said., “and in the coming days, we’ll be announcing what conclusions we’ve reached, and how best to proceed from here.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks Looking for Signature Win vs. Ducks]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 19:38:31 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/484439389.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks are coming off of one of their most disappointing losses of the season against the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday, but they have no time to look forlornly at the past as they take on the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.

That’s because the Ducks are currently the team with the best record in the entire NHL, and they’ve been flying through the regular season.

They did drop a tough contest to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night, but that loss was just their second in their last 10 games. They’ve gotten excellent goaltending out of Frederik Andersen, and he will be the man in net for them when they take on the Blackhawks Friday.

What will also help the Ducks is their incredible depth at the center position.

They are stacked on the top two lines with Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler down the middle, and adding talented wingers like Corey Perry to the mix only makes them a more difficult team to defend against, especially for a team like the Blackhawks who have been struggling in that department in recent games.

In order to find success against the Ducks, the Blackhawks will first and foremost have to focus on stopping those menaces in the middle of the ice.

Getzlaf is one of the best facilitators in the league at the moment, dishing out 35 assists so far this season, and so the Hawks’ defensemen will have to be aware of the wingers coming up the ice on rushes. A good forecheck by the forwards will also help, but staying disciplined and not leaving lanes is going to be a key for guys like Johnny Oduya and Michal Rozsival in this game.

The other thing that the Blackhawks will have to focus on is getting scoring from multiple lines.

The second line has been in a state of flux since Kris Versteeg went down with an injury in the Winter Classic, and Patrick Sharp is currently trying to solidify a role with that group after Bryan Bickell was demoted back to the third line.

If the Hawks can get him going, and can continue to get solid production out of the top line, then they will be able to mount an effective counter-attack against Anaheim’s defense, and that will be a huge boost as they try to win this one.

One other thing to keep an eye on in this game will be the special team’s battle.

Neither team is particularly proficient on the power play, but Anaheim’s penalty killing unit is in the bottom half of the league, checking in at an 80.9% success rate. If the Blackhawks’ power play is going to cash in against anybody, it would be this type of team, and with the way they moved the puck at times against the Kings, it wouldn’t be shocking to see a man-advantage tally in this one for the visitors.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[College Students Will Have a Harder Time Cutting Class ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 15:04:25 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC_attendanceapp0129001_1500x845__677564.jpg College students will have a much harder time trying to skip class now that parents and professors can track if they're in class or not. ]]> <![CDATA[Mayoral Candidates Solidify Positions in Second Debate]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:05:45 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/232*120/chicago+sun+times+debate.jpg

The candidates for mayor returned to familiar territory in the second debate of the campaign season when they argued their positions in front of the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board Friday.

The five men once again focused on budget woes, pension troubles, and crime.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel offered few specifics on his budget proposals, saying his plans will be highlighted in the October budget. He did, however, pledge to not raise property taxes in the operating budget.

He touted his latest pension solution, which increased employee contributions by 29 percent and trimmed benefits to shore up the underfunded Municipal Employees and Laborers pensions.

“Some people think we should just tax our way to a balanced budget I rejected that,” Emanuel said Friday.

Emanuel repeated his calls for a balanced budget that “puts money in the rainy day fund,” but offered few specifics for how he plans to handle the growing need for pension funds.

“We have a big challenge ahead of us, but I do think the past tells us where we’re going to go,” he said.

Few candidates offered solutions of their own. Alderman Bob Fioretti said he opposed an increase in property taxes and said he would look into TIF funds and possibly even a commuter tax.
“A pension is guarantee and we need to find the revenue for it,” he said. “I’m not talking about future employees I’m talking about what we owe now.”

Fioretti argued that “we need to put everything on the table,” except property tax increases.

Jesus “Chuy” Garcia said he would look to find revenue in the city’s ever-growing transportation departments and William “Dock Walls” said the solution may lie in allowing for more competition in contract bidding in the city.

Following pensions, the session turned to another highly debated topic in the city—the closing of 50 public schools in Chicago.
The shuttering of dozens of CPS schools is a move candidates have targeted Mayor Rahm Emanuel for.

“Nobody in their right mind would close 50 schools,” said Willie Wilson, who argued that the move hindered some of the city’s poverty-plagued neighborhoods. “Parents can’t think about education at the moment when they’re thinking about their kid getting killed.”

Several candidates agreed some schools needed to be closed, but some targeted the process rather than the decision.

“When you shutter those school buildings you snuff the life out of many of those communities,” Garcia said. “I’m not saying you shouldn’t have closed but you should have done it in a collaborative manner.”

Fioretti also argued that officials recommended several of the closed schools remain open, but Emanuel stood by the decision and offered plans for what the now vacant buildings could become.

Some buildings could be housing or incubator space for technology, he said.

While many in the session criticized CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, Emanuel said he’s proud of her appointment.

In another familiar talking point, the mayoral candidates discussed their positions on gun control, with nearly all of them supporting stiffer penalties for those caught in possession of a gun used in a crime.

As for where the candidates see the city of Chicago’s future heading, Emanuel and Garcia both agreed the city’s transportation industry could be a huge economic boost for the future.

They both also chose to focus on the diversity of the population in the city.

“Chicago’s diversity is its strength,” Emanuel said.

Fioretti focused more on reintroducing trade schools to city high schools.

“We still need in our high schools, trade and vocation, we keep forgetting about that,” he said. “We need to reinstitute that kids can use their hands.”

Walls said the future of the city rests in the hands of small businesses, while Wilson simply said we need to brand our city.

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<![CDATA[McDonald's Offers Option to "Pay with Lovin'" in Chicago Area]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:37:31 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/217*120/56857245.jpg

McDonald's plans you a chance to earn a cheeseburger for calling your mother. Or fist bumping a fry cook. Or just passing along good vibes. 

Select McDonald's customers in participating restaurants nationwide will soon get the chance to pocket their cash and pay for a meal with "lovin'" instead.

Customers who enter participating McDonald's restaurants between Feb. 2 and Feb. 14 will be selected at random and told they could pay for their meal with an act of lovin' instead of money, according to a statement from McDonald's. Acts of lovin' include anything from a friendly fist bump with an employee on duty to calling a loved one on the phone. 

The newly accepted form of currency -- called "Pay with Lovin' " -- comes just in time for Valentine's Day and is part of the Oak Brook-based company's new campaign to emphasize the "love" in its long-running "I'm Lovin' It" slogan.

"McDonald's is in a unique position to bring a little more lovin' to our customers," said Deborah Wahl, chief marketing officer for McDonald's USA. "We're on a journey to change the relationship and conversation and 'Pay with Lovin' ' is a direct way for us to engage with our customers. We believe that a little more Lovin' can change a lot."

The new payment method begins Feb. 2 and applies between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. at select McDonald's stores.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Midwest Dominates Redbox Survey of Most Romantic Cities]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 12:46:20 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Redbox+Kiosk.jpg

The Midwest is the place to be for romantic movie-watching this Valentine's Day, according to a new survey that ranked the most romantic cities in the country based on movie rentals.

Oakbrook Terrace-based Redbox tracked the number of romantic movie titles checked out in cities across the U.S. and ranked them based on the number. The top 10 cities all reside in the Midwest, with Green Bay, Wis., taking the No. 1 spot.

Green Bay was followed by Evansville, Ind.; Lansing, Mich.; Mankato, Minn.; Zanesville, Ohio; Ames, Iowa; Rochester, Minn.; Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo, Mich.; Toledo, Ohio; and Lima, Ohio.

The Midwest was deemed more romantic than all other regions in the U.S., according to the survey, which identified the top states as Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Iowa.

The survey results also named "The Notebook" as the "most romantic movie of all time," followed by "Titanic" and "Pretty Woman." Concerning the actors and actresses in romantic movies, Americans chose Channing Tatum and  Jennifer Lawrence as their top picks for a celebrity valentine.

Romantic movie rentals skyrocket during the week of Feb. 14, according to Redbox, which tracked a 66 percent increase that week as compared to the first week of February last year.

This year's romantic titles available at Redbox locations include "If I Stay," "The Fault in Our Stars," "What If," "The Notebook" and "The Vow."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Patriots Model Provides Clues to Bears' Rebuild ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 12:34:07 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Belichick-Smiles.jpg

The New England Patriots have been one of the top teams in the NFL for so long that fans may not remember their dark days. But before their current era of success, they were once a doormat in professional football.

From their inception as the Boston Patriots in 1960 through the mid 1990’s, the Patriots were mostly a really bad team. They did have one Super Bowl appearance tossed in for good measure in 1986, but they were steamrolled by the Chicago Bears in a 46-10 embarrassment. They did get back to a level of respectability under head coach Bill Parcells in the mid-90’s, but they lost Super Bowl XXXI to the Green Bay Packers in 1996.

After Pete Carroll was dismissed as head coach following the 1999 season, the team had one more bad year under new head coach Bill Belichick, but it’s been all gravy since then. Starting in 2001, the Patriots went on to rack up three Super Bowl titles, were blessed with one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history in the form of Tom Brady, and have become a model that other teams aspire to mimic when they’re building their own franchises.

Some of the team’s success can be attributed to luck (getting Brady in the sixth round of the NFL Draft, for example), but when you look at successful franchises, smart drafting is about more than just luck. It’s about finding players who fit the vision that a coach has for a team, and guys like Brady in New England are perfect examples of why every draft pick is important.

In addition to smart drafting, there has to be a commitment to make the tough decisions when the need arises. In some cases, those decisions are made for you, as it was when Drew Bledsoe went down with injury and Brady was forced to start in his place. In other instances, the choices teams make are not forced upon them, but rather represent difficult obstacles that must be overcome.

When Robert Kraft opted to hire Belichick before the 2000 season, it’s not like he was bringing in a proven record with a history of success. In a five year stint with the Cleveland Browns, Belichick had a 36-44 record, one playoff victory, and managed to go five years without being signed on by another team.

Recognizing the potential of a coach is one thing, but there were no blatantly obvious signs that Belichick was about to become arguably the best coach in the league. Kraft and his team saw that potential despite it not being obvious, and the results speak for themselves.

Being a successful team also means being able to take on cast-offs from other teams and mold them into the type of players a team needs. The Patriots are exceptionally good at this, taking on players like Randy Moss who have been problem-players elsewhere and turning them into exceptional talents driven to win and achieve big things.

This season is no exception for the Patriots, as they not only were willing to bring aboard a player who bombed out elsewhere, but also demoted a player who wasn’t pulling his weight. Earlier in the season, Jonas Gray made the cover of Sports Illustrated as he took the field by storm, but the Patriots weren’t swayed by one great performance. Instead, they went out and signed LeGarrette Blount, who had just been released by the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they rode him all the way to the Super Bowl.

Benching a player who becomes a national sensation can’t be an easy thing to do, but Belichick did it quickly and ruthlessly. He saw another player become available that could help his football team, and he went out and acquired him.

That, perhaps more than any other factor, is what makes Belichick and the Patriots so worthy of emulation. They don’t get caught up in the emotion of the moment. They don’t let trends dictate what they do with their personnel decisions and their coaching hires. They do the right thing that falls in step with their philosophies, and they have a case full of Super Bowl trophies to prove how effective their model has been.

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<![CDATA[Stan Mikita Diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 12:06:59 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/152817503.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks have been blessed with some of the greatest players to lace up a pair of skates, but arguably the biggest legend of them all is being affected by one of the most insidious diseases imaginable.

Stan Mikita, whose #21 hangs from the United Center rafters and who leads the Blackhawks in points and games played, has been diagnosed with dementia, according to his daughter Jane. Here is the statement that she gave to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Stan has been diagnosed with suspected Lewy body dementia, a progressive disease, and is currently under the care of compassionate and understanding care-givers.”

The disease, which is the second-most common form of dementia, can cause visual hallucinations and can result in rigid muscles, mimicking Parkinson’s disease.

Mikita has been a fixture around the organization ever since Rocky Wirtz took over as owner before the 2007-08 season. Along with President John McDonough, the Wirtz family has welcomed players like Mikita and Bobby Hull back into the fold, and they’ve become ambassadors for the organization and appeared at a slew of events.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Winter Storm Watch Issued for Chicago Area ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:23:39 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chicago+snowstorm.jpg

It has been a quiet winter for Chicago in terms of snow, but that could all change this weekend. 

The National Weather Service on Friday issued a Winter Storm Watch for the Chicago metro area starting Saturday evening through Sunday evening.

The alert warns of the potential for snowtotals possibly in excess of 6 inches.

Weather models currently show an average of 4 to 8 inches of accumulation on the ground by Sunday night, but these totals may change again due to the complexity of the system. If the models do not change, this will be the biggest snowstorm of the season.

Conditions will be quiet between Friday and Saturday afternoon, but the snow is expected to begin falling Saturday evening with light accumulation. Snowfall will likely become moderate to heavy overnight and into Sunday morning before easing off in the afternoon.

The system will move through the Chicago area by Sunday night, but lake effect snow could continue to fall into Monday morning with little accumulation.

The weather will clear up during the day Monday, but the temperature will drop to a high of 15 degrees.

Warmer weather is expected to return Tuesday with highs in 20s and another chance for snow.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Residents Blame Wrigley Construction for Influx of Rats]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 09:45:33 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/rats2.jpg

While the Chicago Cubs work on renovating the Friendly Confines, residents in the area say the work brought in some unfriendly guests.

Several Wrigleyville residents say the major construction project has led to an increase in rodents, particularly rats.

“We’ve had an influx of rats and rodents just scrabbling all over the neighborhood,” said resident and Wrigley Field neighbor Terie Kata. “Nothing like I’ve seen in the 23 years I’ve lived here.”

Some in the area say they’ve had to put out traps since the project began.

“The first night I put [a trap] out, it caught a rat-- the biggest rat I’ve ever seen,” said resident John Beribak.

Alderman Tom Tunney, however, says the city has done rodent abatement blitzes in the area and noted “requests for rodent control to our office and 311 have been minimal in the area surrounding Wrigley Field.”

“Residents experiencing rodent problems are encouraged to call my office right away,” Tunney said in a statement. “My office has and will continue to work with the Bureau of Rodent Control and the Cubs to address resident concerns.”

The Cubs also said they worked with the city last fall to curb issues with rodents.

“Since then we have not received any additional complaints,” Cubs spokesperson Julian Green said in a statement. “Residents who are experiencing problems are encouraged to call the alderman's office and we are happy to work with the City to evaluate our collective efforts.”

But some residents say that’s not enough, with one group even starting their own feral cat program.

“The cubs should be good neighbors like they claim they are and take care and be concerned about their neighbors and the rats,” Kata said.



Photo Credit: AP Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cicero Orders Church to Close Due to Safety Violations]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:36:39 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CHURCH-cross-generic.jpg

The Town of Cicero ordered a church closed immediately Thursday for allegedly ignoring life-threatening physical hazards.

Cicero officials accused Bishop Herman Jackson, who runs Arch of Safety Apostolic Faith Temple, of ignoring safety hazards, which include a lack of water, electricity and heat in the church. Officials at the Cicero Building Department allowed Jackson to conduct limited religious services under the condition that he would restore water, electricity and heat to the property, which includes a church and a daycare center.

"We have bent over backwards to help the pastor keep his church open because we care about the congregation," Ray Hanania, a Cicero town spokesman, said. "Last Sunday, we allowed services in the church portion of the building, which also includes a shuttered daycare center, on his promise that he would have contractors make repairs this week. Nothing has been done."

Hanania called the church "a safety nightmare," adding that it also has damaged and collapsed ceilings, water and mold in the walls, garbage strewn throughout and broken exit and emergency signs.

Jackson already faces charges for allegedly defrauding the State of Illinois child daycare funds. The court allowed him to travel to his church in Cicero so he could conduct Sunday services.

"We have urged him to find another church in Cicero to conduct his religious services and again have offered to allow the church services to be held Sunday morning if he can get the heater repaired and safe," Hanania said.

The town has given Jackson until 5 p.m. Saturday to correct the safety issues. If he does not comply, officials said they will board up the building.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mayor Announces 4G Coverage Coming to CTA]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 07:02:59 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CTA+4G+coming.jpg

Good news for CTA riders who use their cell phones while in transit.

The mayor announced Friday that by the end of the year,  the entire CTA subway will have 4G wireless coverage through four major wireless carriers -- T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon -- by the end of 2015. The carriers will cover all costs, so the service will be free to riders.

The project is funded by the mayor's Chicago Infrastructure Trust, which leverages private investment for infrastructure projects meant to modernize the city.

This latest CTA project comes after Mayor Rahm Emanuel implemented other technology-related changes in the past three years, including adding train tracker screens to all rail stations and expanding the security camera network.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Suburban Nuns Accuse Nearby Strip Club of Promoting Prostitution]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:14:11 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Web_Nuns_strippers.jpg

A group of suburban nuns who filed a lawsuit to shut down a neighboring strip club is making new claims against the venue, this time saying it’s promoting prostitution.

The Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo, of Melrose Park, and the Thomas More Society amended the lawsuit filed last year against Club Allure that accuses them of violating a state law because they built a strip club less than 1,000 feet from a house of worship.

In the amended lawsuit, they are claiming that the club is promoting prostitution by offering lap dances.

"Lap dancing is a vague phrase that covers a lot of sins, but there is more than 'lap dancing' here, and we have eye-witness testimony to turn over to law enforcement," Thomas Brejcha, the attorney for the Thomas More Society, said.

The sisters, along with members of the Stone Park and Melrose Park communities, are also complaining that Stone Park should never have permitted Club Allure to have a liquor license because of a village rule.

Club Allure had no comment about the amended complaint, but last year co-owner Sean O 'Brien told NBC 5's Phil Rogers that prostitution would never be allowed at Club Allure.

"Our license only allows topless, and that's as far as we're willing to go," O'Brien said.

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<![CDATA[11-Year-Old Missing Boy Found]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 10:33:19 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/lamont+smith.jpg

An 11-year-old boy who was reported missing Friday from the Woodlawn neighborhood on the city's South Side has been found.

Lamont Smith was last seen in the 6700 block of South Rhodes Avenue wearing a white shirt, black jacket, navy blue pants and black boots. He has been found in good condition.



Photo Credit: Chicago Police]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks Trade Adam Clendening to Canucks ]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 23:48:52 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/1173086681.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks are constantly on the lookout to bolster their prospect depth, and on Thursday night they did just that as they acquired defenseman Gustav Forsling from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for defenseman Adam Clendening.

Forsling, who has three goals and two assists in 35 games with Linkopings in the Swedish Hockey League, was a star for Team Sweden in the World Junior Championships in December, racking up six points in the preliminary round as the squad won their group.

As for Clendening, he made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks this season and scored his first career goal in a four-game stint on the blue line. With the Rockford IceHogs, Clendening had one goal and 12 assists in 38 games.

For the Blackhawks, this move essentially boils down to one factor: making their prospect base younger and removing a bit of the glut of blue line prospects that they have on the team. Players like Klas Dahlbeck, Trevor van Riemsdyk, and Stephen Johns are all going to get a chance to play on the blue line for the Hawks when Johnny Oduya (and potentially Michal Rozsival) are elsewhere, so Clendening is a player that likely would be on the outside looking in.

With Forsling, the Blackhawks are taking a chance that a player selected in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft will end up panning out. The 18-year old still has plenty of growing to do as a player, and the Blackhawks have the luxury of being patient with him because of the prospect depth they have.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wanted Fugitive Caught Working as Bartender in Suburban Chicago]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 23:47:22 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/220*120/Screen+Shot+2015-01-29+at+11.29.37+PM.png

A fugitive who officials said evaded Washington state prison authorities and nation-wide law enforcement for more than a decade was caught under the least likely of circumstances: while working as a bartender at a private house party in suburban Chicago.

Michael Allen Hammons, 49, was arrested the morning of Jan. 1 in Naperville after party guests said the hired bartender became intoxicated, threw up inside the home and refused to leave when confronted.

“We asked him to leave and he got a little confrontational and was demanding the rest of his money but I said, ‘absolutely not,’” said homeowner Mandi Gossick.

Gossick’s plans for a perfect New Year’s Eve party did not include a brush with a fugitive.

While planning her event, she searched online for bartenders and ultimately found one through an event planning company called Serve and Pour. According to the service agreement, the business promised Gossick a highly-trained and certified professional.

“Everybody was really excited that they weren’t going to have to spend big money in the city,” Gossick said.

Until New Year's, Hammons was apparently going by the name Mike Peck and living in a condo on Chicago’s North Side. But no one could predict the bang the New Year was about to bring.

Guests said the bartender who presented himself as Mike Peck was drinking alcohol and doing a poor job of pouring their drinks.

“He was there trying to have a good time and make a quick buck,” guest Kevin Goddard said.

Goddard said the bartender vomited on the floor just outside the first floor bathroom. Then, he said Peck went right behind the bar and started making drinks.

“He tried to play it off as if no one was going to find out,” Goddard said.

Gossick and her guests said they asked Peck to leave and when he refused they contacted the Naperville Police Department.

The police report said by the time officers arrived, Peck was outside and cutting through some of the neighboring homes’ backyards. Police said Peck seemed highly intoxicated. He was later transported to the Naperville Jail for processing.

Police said Peck was carrying a folder full of identification documents and that some of the forms were altered. They noticed discrepancies with his listed date of birth. Police ran a criminal history check and found there was a warrant out of Washington for “escape from a work release program."

That’s when it was discovered Mike Peck was actually Michael Hammons. Hammons was charged in Naperville with Fugitive from Justice, Disorderly Conduct and Obstructing Identification.

Police called Gossick the next morning with the startling new information.

“I move to what’s listed as the third safest city in the nation and all of a sudden I have a fugitive in my home,” Gossick said. “It’s a little different.”

Hammons was serving an 18-month sentence for a theft conviction in Washington in 2002 when he escaped from the Reynolds Work Training Release Facility in Seattle.

“He’d been signed out for a pass, which is not atypical for a person for work release in Washington state. He left and he did not return,” said Anmarie Aylward, assistant secretary in charge of community corrections for the Washington Department of Corrections.

Aylward said most work release inmates who purposely leave the facility are eventually found. But Hammons apparently slipped through the system and went undetected for nearly thirteen years.

“We would send out the alerts and people would be searching or looking for him,” Aylward said. “We reviewed the nation-wide warrant routinely, several times a year.”

Then a fateful bartending gig in Naperville landed Hammons back behind bars. He is currently in custody at the DuPage County Jail awaiting his court date scheduled for Feb. 2.

Prison officials said they expect Hammons will be extradited to Washington soon after his court appearance.

“Mr. Hammons is wanted for escape so he would be held accountable for that behavior and he would owe time to the state of Washington,” Aylward said.

Serve and Pour apologized to Gossick and refunded her deposit. The company fired the bartender they knew as Mike Peck, according to an email they sent to Gossick. Serve and Pour did not return our repeated requests for comment.

The state of Illinois performs extensive background checks on licensed professionals like doctors, nurses and security personnel. However, bartenders do not receive any form of liquor license from the state. A spokesperson from the Illinois Liquor Control Commission said while not impossible, it is doubtful that bartenders are regulated or licensed at the local level.

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<![CDATA[Mayor Emanuel Racks up More Red Light Tickets]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 22:21:20 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/109198735.jpg

The City of Chicago rakes in millions from its red light cameras, and once again, some of that revenue is coming from the Mayor himself.

This time, it was the Wrigleyville website, cwbchicago.com, which outed the mayor’s traffic transgressions: five different red light tickets between Nov. 20 and Jan. 14 of this year.

“First and foremost, red lights are there for public safety,” Emanuel said Thursday, once again defending the red light camera program in the face of mounting criticism. “I’d rather use technology to enforce traffic safety so our police officers, rather than writing traffic tickets, are out there fighting guns and gangs.”

And for the tickets?

“I always pay them,” he said. “Since there’s a tail car given, there are some instances where they can’t get through a light because they can’t get separated from the first car. That may be what happened but whatever it is I pay them, even though I’m not driving.”

A Chicago Police Department spokesman confirmed the two-car Emanuel detail is trained to keep cars together.

“CPD’s job is to protect the Mayor,” spokesman Martin Maloney said in a statement. “The drivers are trained to stay together and that will not change.”

On a related note, the mayor said he was prepared to embrace countdown clocks for corners where the red light cameras are installed. It’s a reform some aldermen have called for, but an expensive one, at a minimum of about $15,000 per intersection.

“That’s another additional reform,” he said. “Always be open to changing, but making sure we never give up the public safety and traffic safety gains that we’ve made.”

A check of the City of Chicago website indicated that the latest infractions had been paid.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Reports: Jimmy Butler Headed to NBA All-Star Game]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:57:06 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/170*120/459596902.jpg

The Chicago Bulls have had their share of ups and downs this season, but one of the unquestioned bright spots has been the play of Jimmy Butler, and his achievements have been rewarded with a reserve spot in the NBA All-Star Game.

His selection, which was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and confirmed by Marc Stein of ESPN, is the first selection of his career, and it comes on the heels of the best stretch of play in his young career.

So far in 43 games for the Bulls, Butler has averaged 20.1 points per game, six rebounds, and 3.3 assists per contest. He’s also been a stalwart on the defensive end of the floor, with 1.8 steals per game, and he’s quickly become one of head coach Tom Thibodeau’s favorite weapons.

Butler’s performance, especially early in the season, was critical to keeping the Bulls’ heads above water as injuries decimated the roster.

Derrick Rose has been heating up as of late, but players like Joakim Noah and Mike Dunlavey have both had their effectiveness limited by their ailments. Butler’s splendid play in their stead has made him into one of the rising stars in the NBA, and his profile is already growing quite a bit.

That growth in popularity will prove critical to Butler after the season ends. He will be a restricted free agent at the end of the campaign, and there will be teams undoubtedly looking into adding him to their roster.

The Bulls have some cap space with which to re-sign Butler, but if a team puts forward a big-time offer sheet in the offseason, the Bulls may have to make a tough decision regarding their young star.

The NBA All-Star Game will take place in Brooklyn on February 8.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Honoring Chicagoland's Fallen Heroes]]> Sat, 10 Nov 2012 19:11:50 -0600 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[Chicago Man Gets 32 Years for "Brutal" Bus Stop Assault]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:22:09 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/michael+campbell1.jpg

A Chicago man was sentenced late Wednesday to 32 years in prison for the 2013 sexual assault and robbery of a 21-year-old woman who was waiting at a CTA bus stop in West Town.

Michael Campbell, now 29, pleaded guilty to one count each of aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping, and was sentenced by Cook County Judge Charles Burns, according to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

Campbell was at a CTA stop in the 1000 block of North Western about 5 a.m. on July 8, 2013, when he tried to start a conversation with the woman, who was on her way home from work, a statement from prosecutors said.

As the victim took a seat on a bench inside the bus shelter, Campbell grabbed her face and slammed her head against a wall. He then punched her face multiple times before dragging her to a nearby gangway, prosecutors said.

Campbell then got on top of the woman, struck her in the head and slammed her face against a brick wall before sexually assaulting her, prosecutors said.

When the woman began to scream for help and begged him to stop, Campbell responded, “Stop screaming. I have a gun and I will kill you.”

Campbell later ran away with the woman’s bag, but a witness saw him running and removing a green T-shirt, which was recovered by police. Investigators also obtained video surveillance from a nearby gas station that showed Campbell before the attack, the state’s attorney’s office said.

Police released his image to the public and, three days later, Campbell was taken into custody. The victim identified him in a police lineup and his DNA matched that found on the T-shirt, the state’s attorney’s office said.
 



Photo Credit: Chicago Police]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Suburbs Make List of Best Cities for Families]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:47:46 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Naperville_generic.jpg

An apartment listing website has named three Chicago suburbs among the top cities in the nation to raise a family.

Naperville was the top-ranked Illinois city on the list of "Top Cities for Families," coming in third place. The rankings come from ApartmentList.com, which identified the top cities based on safety, housing cost, school quality and child friendliness.

The western suburb was the only Chicago suburb to make the top 10 and was lauded for the quality of its schools and received a perfect score in that category. The suburb also earned high rankings for safety.

Wheaton came in at no. 12 on the list of 100 cities, and was noted for its safety in particular. Like Naperville, Wheaton also scored high for school quality. The western suburb only failed to make the top 10 list nationally because of its low scores for housing costs and percentage of children, according to ApartmentList.

Elgin was also named in the national ranking, taking 62nd place. The northwestern suburb received high scores for its affordability in the housing category and its high percentage of residents under 18 years old.

Normal was the only other Illinois city to make the national list, coming in at no. 79.

The city of Fishers, Ind., near Indianapolis came in first place nationally followed by Allen, Texas.

As for the best cities in Illinois, Naperville takes the no. 1 spot, followed by Wheaton and Elgin, according to the rankings.

The top 10 family-friendly cities in Illinois, in order, were Naperville, Wheaton, Elgin, Normal, Bloomington, Waukegan, Champaign, Peoria, Decatur and Rockford.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Most Bizarre Excuses for Being Late to Work]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:49:55 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/alarm-clock-crop.jpg

Getting in to work on time is not always an easy task.

Despite the typical traffic problems or public transportation woes, there’s apparently also car trunk thieves, strangers using cars as beds and even bad dreams working against employees trying to get to clock in on time.

According to a new survey from Chicago-based CareerBuilder, more than 23 percent of workers say they’re late to work at least once a month, and 14 percent say it’s a weekly occurrence.

Of those workers, at least 3 in 10 said they’ve lied about the reason for their tardiness. But that doesn’t sound so far-fetched when you consider that 41 percent of employers have actually fired an employee for being late.

The survey involved responses from more than 2,100 hiring and human resource managers and more than 3,000 workers across the nation.

The most common cause of tardiness, according to the survey, was traffic, followed by lack of sleep and weather.

Trying to get kids to school or daycare was a problem for 12 percent of responders and public transportation or wardrobe troubles were a problem for 7 and 6 percent of workers, respectively.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lake Effect Snow Showers Possible in NW Indiana]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:02:58 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/snow-generic.jpg

Conditions may be dry for most of the Chicago area Thursday afternoon, but for parts of northwest Indiana and southwest Michigan the moisture may return.

A lake effect snow band could bring accumulating snow to parts of the Michiana snow belt late Thursday and into Friday as temperatures dip into the 20s overnight.

While it’s not clear where exactly the spotty lake effect snow bands will develop, some areas could see an inch or two of snow during the overnight hours.

Winds will also shift out of the northwest Thursday with gusts of up to 40 mph possible.

The snow and wind move in as conditions take a cold turn, bringing highs Friday in the low- to mid-20s with partly sunny skies.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Cupich Could Celebrate Pallium in Chicago]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:21:30 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/archbishop+cupich.jpg

Pope Francis plans to break a tradition in a decision that will ultimately impact Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich.

As a new "Metropolitan Archbishop," Cupich is scheduled to attend a Pallium ceremony in Rome on June 29, but the Pope wants to de-emphasize the Roman tradition, saying he wants the major celebration to take place at the home diocese.

There will still be a mass with the new Archbishops from across the world and Pope Francis. In fact, it will be the first time Cupich meets the Pope. The Pallium -- a cloth worn over his vestments, signifying he is a Metropolitan Archbishop -- will be given later back in Chicago.

The decision follows a practice Francis actually started himself. When he was given the Pallium as well as elevated to the College of Cardinals, he asked parishioners in Buenos Aires to donate to the poor rather than travel to Rome.

Chicagoans had been expected to attend that mass in Rome, but Pope Francis has made it clear he wants more parishioners to celebrate at the home diocese rather than travel for an expensive visit to Rome.

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<![CDATA[Metra Fare Increases Start Sunday]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:39:32 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/metra-fare-ticket.jpg

Get ready Metra riders—the approved 2015 fare increases start Sunday.

The rail agency announced in the fall that starting in February, one-way fares will go up by an average of 10.8 percent to as much as 18.2 percent. The fares will keep going up every year for the next 10 years to help fund a modernization plan of the aging system which Metra officials say is long overdue.

Over the entire decade, fares will increase by an average of 68 percent from current levels.

"Folks may love nostalgia, but it makes a powerful statement when our oldest cars date from the Eisenhower administration," Metra chairman Martin Oberman said in a statement. "The majority of our rail cars are older than the majority of our daily commuters."

The 2015 fare hike will mean an increase of between 50 cents and a dollar for the average rider who buys a one-way ticket. By 2024, fares in the most expensive zone will double, from $2.75 to $5.50.

Metra officials said they have one of the oldest rail fleets in the United States. The average age of the agency’s rolling stock is 29.7 years, compared with 19 at other large railroads. Under the proposed plan, Metra will buy 367 new rail cars to replace 318 cars with an average age of 43 years. More than 100 of those cars would be delivered between 2018 and 2019.

In addition, 85 locomotives will be rebuilt at a cost of $178.5 million. In 2020, 52 new locomotives will be purchased with a price tag of $416 million.

The bad news carries a couple of silver linings. The agency plans to restore discounts for 10 ride tickets, with the price of those tickets dropping to the cost of nine rides. The grace period on monthly tickets will be restored, allowing use on the first day of the following month. One way tickets will be good for 90 days, instead of the current 14.

The extra charge for buying a ticket aboard trains will increase from $3 to $5 later this year when mobile ticketing becomes available. All of the other changes will go into effect Feb. 1.

"While nobody ever likes fare increases, Metra’s fares are significantly lower than our peer railroads in major cities, and have not kept pace with inflation," Oberman said. "In addition, we have to do this right. We have to stop pretending that our costs do not go up every year, just like they do for everything else."

The plan calls for yearly fare hikes, mostly averaging between 3 percent and 5 percent. Fares in 2017 would go up 8.5 percent, while in 2019, the increase would be 7.75 percent.

By 2024, the cost of a one-way ticket on the system will range from $5.50 for a trip from Clybourn Avenue to Downtown, all the way to $16 if that trip originates in far northwestern Harvard. Currently that Harvard trip is $9.25.

The last time Metra increased fares was in 2012.

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<![CDATA[Poll Shows Rahm Leading, in Danger of Runoff]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 20:26:50 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rahm+tribune+poll.jpg

A new poll shows Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a comfortable lead in the mayoral race, but it appears he may not have enough votes to avoid a runoff.

The poll, conducted by the Chicago Tribune, shows the mayor with 42 percent of the vote currently. The closest contender is Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, who has 18 percent. Despite his significant lead, the mayor needs 50 percent of the vote plus one in the Feb. 24 municipal election to avoid a runoff. If no candidate receives an absolute majority Feb. 24, the top two contenders will face off in a runoff election. 

Bob Fioretti is in third place, according to the poll, with 10 percent of the vote, followed by Willie Wilson at 7 percent and William "Dock" Walls at 2 percent.

About 20 percent of those polled said they were undecided with less than a month to go before the election. If Emanuel takes at least half of these votes on Election Day, it's likely he'll avoid a runoff. In past elections, the majority of the undecided voters usually end up voting for the incumbent, according to the Tribune.

A key factor for all mayoral candidates is the African-American vote, which seems to have taken a slight turn in support of Emanuel, despite the disapproval of many African-American communities following the mayor's closure of nearly 50 schools in predominantly black neighborhoods. According to the Tribune poll, about 40 percent of African-American voters now approve of Emanuel.

The poll was conducted via phone interviews with 708 registered voters who said they were certain they would vote in the election. The interviews were held from Jan. 22-27.

Other Tribune polls conducted throughout the year show a change in voters' perceptions of the mayor, which may have helped him gain his significant lead. An August poll showed that only 29 percent of voters viewed the mayor favorably, whereas the new poll shows that 43 percent view him favorably.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Amtrak Commits $12 Million to Rehab Union Station]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 20:29:16 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/754866.jpg

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Wednesday that Amtrak has committed $12 million in funding for a major rehabilitation of Union Station.

Amtrak's contribution is the first piece of a $500 million plan to overhaul the 90-year-old Union Station's aging infrastructure, according to the mayor's office.

The rehabilitation plan comes amidst other proposed changes to Union Station, including construction of the Union Station Transportation Center, which is a CTA bus terminal that will anchor the new Central Loop Bus Rapid Transit Corridor  and connect Amtrak, Metra, the CTA Blue Line and several downtown destinations.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>