<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Thu, 31 Jul 2014 22:47:18 -0500 Thu, 31 Jul 2014 22:47:18 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Reinsdorf Denies Tension With Derrick Rose's Camp]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 22:00:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rose-lebron-season-opener.jpg

Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf is denying a report of a rift between Derrick Rose's "camp" and the team.

The Chicago Sun-Times posted a story Thursday outlining growing tension between Rose's management team -- particularly his brother Reggie and agent B.J. Armstrong -- and Bulls brass.

The report says the Bulls were upset over "shots" Rose's camp took at management, going all the way back to February 2013 when Reggie Rose criticized them for not making moves to help the team at the trading deadline.

More recently, the newspaper cites Bulls sources as saying that Rose had to be coaxed to even speak to Carmelo Anthony when the free agent visited to Chicago, and were "irate" he didn't attend a dinner to help woo him.

Reinsdorf issued a statement Thursday denying there's any bad blood between the two sides.

"I am confounded by the irresponsible report in the Chicago Sun-Times suggesting there is anything approaching discord or confusion between the Bulls executive office, coaching staff, and Derrick Rose or any other Bulls player. To the contrary, I can remember no time when the organization has been any more focused, optimistic, and cohesive. I've got to assume suggestions otherwise are intended to undermine the goals and objectives, spirit, and reputation of the Chicago Bulls. I am deeply disappointed that unnamed sources and totally inaccurate statements and assumptions can be used to foment nonexistent friction. The report is totally without basis or fact. It is pure malicious fiction." -- Jerry Reinsdorf

In the Sun-Times story, Rose is quoted as being aware that there's been tension and "happy I didn’t personally see it."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Loop Shooting Places Spotlight on Workplace Safety]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:54:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/highrise_security.jpg

Security experts say the last thing high rise landlords should do, in the wake of a workplace shooting in Chicago Thursday, is turn their buildings into fortresses as a hedge against violence.

"The reality is, that's just not practical in today's business environment," says Chicago security expert Mike Mairston. "People aren't comfortable with that, they aren't going to stand for that, and you're going to lose good employees who are going to go elsewhere.

Indeed, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests such shootings are rare. Out of the millions of businesses in the United States, there were only 381 shootings in 2012, the last year for which statistics were available. Most involved men, and the vast majority of the shooters were outside assailants, 28 of them relatives or domestic partners, 47 of them co-workers of the victims.

"You know this was not an issue about security," says Arnette Heintze, a security consultant and former Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office of the Secret Service. "This was an issue of an individual who was troubled and resorted to violence when they most likely felt that was the only way out."

Heintze emphasizes that most workplace shootings involve targeted violence, often involving distruntled employees or customers about whom the company might already have been aware.

"It can be identified," he says. "It can be assessed, and it can be managed."

Building security officials stress the importance of being advised when tenants know trouble might be brewing. Many buildings in the Loop are occupied by scores, if not hundreds of businesses, with one security firm performing screening in the lobby. It's important, they say, to be informed when an employee or client who might be visiting, could be extremely troubled.

"There may have been troubled statements," Heintze says. "There could have been aggressive behavior."

But at the same time, Heintze agrees that installation of devices like x-ray machines and metal detectors would be an over-reaction. He estimates fewer than 10 Loop buildings have metal detectors in their lobbies.

"Our nation as a whole understands the need to be secure," he says. "But we also balance the need for access and convenience with the threat environment that actually exists."

The BLS says often, workplace violence isn't in offices at all. Of the 381 workplace shootings cited, 137 were in retail settings, and more than a third were robberies.

The most notable recent workplace shooting in Chicago was in December of 2006, when an angry client found his way into a law office at the Citigroup Center above the Ogilvie Transportation Center. Four people, including the gunman, were killed. Experts say all too often, workplace violence involves, if not predictable behavior, at least areas where someone was aware that anger on the part of an employee or customer might be escalating to something worse.

"The problem today only would have been resolved if you'd changed that individual's mindset," Mairson says. "You're not going to do that with a camera, or an x-ray machine, or a metal detector."


<![CDATA[Nordstrom Acquires Chicago's Trunk Club]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:26:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/trunk_club_blurb.jpg Chicago startup company Trunk Club is now in the hands of national retailer Nordstrom.

It's not clear how much Nordstrom paid for the company, which is located in River North.

Trunk Club is an e-commerce business that offers personal stylists who hand select clothing for men.

The company has raised several millions of dollars in venture capital funds and is expected to continue operating independently while receiving support from Nordstrom.

According to the New York Times, the company may start carrying lines from Nordstrom and customers may have access to tailors at the departments stores. ]]>
<![CDATA[Driver Charged in Fatal Edgewater Pedestrian Crash]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 20:58:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Edgewater_crash_7-30.jpg

Charges were filed Thursday against a driver who police say plowed into parked cars on the city's north side. One person who was pinned between two cars was killed and five others were injured.

Vladimir Tsemekhman, 58, is charged with one count of reckless homide and several moving violations including reckless driving, disobeying a red signal stop, failure to reduce speed and stay in lanes.

Authorities say Tsemekhman was driving at a high rate of speed and failed to stop at a traffic light.

Frank Kiley, 71, died and multiple others were injured in the crash involving three cars and a Chicago Transit Authority bus shortly after 11 a.m. Wednesday at Sheridan Road and Balmoral Avenue. Kiley's fiancée was nearby and almost became a victim herself.

"He was at the back opening trunk, I was on the side helping him," Wilma Deveyra said. "I some heard loud explosion. All I know I was right on the ground, and I could not get up."

Witnesses said a car was trying to pass the bus when it hit two parked cars, one of which then hit the bus. Kiley, who had just picked up groceries from the Care for Real food pantry, was loading his car when he was pinned between two vehicles.

A CTA spokeswoman said the northbound No. 147 bus was standing at the intersection when it was struck. The bus didn't make contact with pedestrians, she said. The bus operator was uninjured but was transported to the hospital for observation. A passenger on the bus requested medical attention for what appeared to be non-life-threatening injuries, according to preliminary information.

<![CDATA[Quinn Scores Teachers Union Endorsement in Bitter Governors Race]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 16:54:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/quinn-victory-1.jpg


Not one but two powerful Illinois teachers unions have come forward to formally endorse Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn for governor over Republican challenger Bruce Rauner, who's basically the embodiment of all they stand against.

An endorsement from the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) on Wednesday arrived two days after the Illinois Education Association (IEA) declared official support for Quinn.

In a blistering statement, IFT boss Dan Montgomery said: "Strong schools start with a strong investment, and Gov. Quinn is the only candidate with a commitment to ensure that all students have the resources to succeed from their first day of school through college graduation. Gov. Quinn respects and understands working families, and supports our fundamental right to speak with a collective voice on behalf of our communities."

The IFT includes the Chicago Teachers Union and is affiliated with anti-Rauner Illinois Freedom PAC, which recently donated $1.4 million to Quinn's re-election campaign, prompting the Winnetka venture capitalist to solicit small contributions from supporters mere weeks after receiving a $2.5 million check from Chicago hedge fund kingpin Ken Griffin. Begging for $5 donations, Rauner voice fears that "Quinn and his special interest allies are going to come for me with a multi-million dollar ad blitz."

"Given the fairy tales he tells in his commercials, we are committed to making sure voters know how out-of-touch the real Rauner is," stated Montgomery. "He may be a billionaire, but his ideas about what's best for education and Illinois families are completely bankrupt."

On Monday, the IEA condemned Rauner for advocating more money for private school vouchers at the expense of public schools and blaming "public employees, including IEA members, for the state's financial problems instead of the politicians who actually control state spending."

Pooled together, the IFT and IEA have about 230,000 members and collectively donated some $1.2 million for Quinn's 2010 match-up with Bill Brady.

Rauner's rep Mike Schrimpf sniffed to the Chicago Sun-Times that the unions' expected announcements would not "impact Bruce's longtime support of great teachers, and he will continue to advocate for better schools for students."

Hours after Politico re-labeled the Quinn-Rauner contest from "toss-up" to "leans Republican," the results of an IEA-backed poll were released Thursday, showing Rauner ahead of Quinn four percentage points for a 46-42 lead. These numbers illustrate a much closer race than touted in earlier surveys that had Rauner leading by as much as 12 points.

Considering Quinn's various campaign-derailing predicaments, you have to wonder what took Illinois' largest teacher groups so long in offiically backing the embattled governor during a difficult few months and an even bleaker future.

What were they waiting for?





<![CDATA[Loop Shooter Worked at Company "Virtually Since Its Inception"]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 20:06:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Tony+DeFrances.jpg

A recently demoted executive who police said walked into a downtown Chicago office Thursday morning and shot the company's CEO had been with the business for years.

Tony DeFrances, 60, of Barrington is listed on ArrowStream's website as the chief technology officer who worked at the company "virtually since its inception." He handled "all aspects" of the company's technology, according to his ArrowStream profile.

DeFrances was demoted last week, Supt. Garry McCarthy told reporters, and arrived Thursday for a one-on-one meeting with CEO Steven LaVoie on the 17th floor at 231 S. LaSalle.

"During the one-on-one, he produced a firearm," McCarthy said. "There apparently was a struggle over the firearm, the CEO was struck twice -- he is in grave condition -- and then the man took his own life."

NBC 5 has learned DeFrances did not have a state Firearm Owners Identification Card. It's not clear where he obtained the gun.

DeFrances was pronounced dead at the scene. LaVoie was struck in the stomach and head and was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition.

LaVoie founded the company, which provides supply chain management solutions for the food service industry, in 2000.

"What we have here is a workplace violence issue," McCarthy said. "Apparently there's a technological company on the 17th floor. They've been undergoing a downsizing. They've demoted a number of people."

George Bolland, who worked with DeFrances on a baseball program in Barrington, said he considers DeFrances a friend.

"I'd ask him to do a favor, I would trust him, he's just a tremendous guy," Bolland said. "He must have been really, really shaken, and I guess after working 20-some years in a place and putting your heart and soul into it, day in and day out, he must have snapped."

Christine Badsky lives a street over from DeFrances and was in downtown Chicago Thursday when the shooting occurred.

"I'm saddened that anyone would be that desperate to end their life," Badsky said.

"I feel sorry for the family that he left behind, because they're the ones that are going to be affected the most."

DeFrances' neighbor across the street, Jim Olsen, is also at a loss to explain what happened.

"I just can't believe that it's Tony that was involved in this," Olsen said. "Pretty much a normal type neighbor that you would meet. Just friendly with people."

ArrowStream issued a statement Thursday afternoon, saying its employees are "deeply saddened and shocked by the events that have occurred today."

"Our focus during this tragedy is to ensure the well-being of our ArrowStream family."

<![CDATA[Beware of Lollapalooza Fake Ticket Scams]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:04:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/174*120/175330851.jpg

The sold-out Lollapalooza music festival is the hottest ticket in town, but it's also a magnet for scammers trying to take advantage of people seeking last-minute tickets.

Josh Kuipers had some friends coming into town for Lollapalooza and wanted to secure some tickets, so he responded to an ad he saw on Craigslist.

"We talked for awhile and agreed to meet in person and I would give him half of the money down and he would give me the passes when they shipped out, and we would keep in contact and I would give him the rest of the money at that point," said Kuipers, who gave the man $325.

But the guy never showed up to complete the transaction, and stopped taking Kuiper's calls and texts.

"It wasn't until I told him that I filed a police report and a lawsuit against him that got him to respond finally, five days later," Kuiper said.

Kuiper posted an ad on Craiglist to warn other people about the scam. He said he's heard from 30 other people who've also been victimized to the tune of $11,000 from the same individual.

James Grasso tells a similar story. He also found tickets online he thought looked legitimate because the poster showed Grasso a picture of the tickets and a receipt.

"He told me he was a father of two, he had a wife, he wasn't going to scam me. He gave me his bank account number, he gave me his home address," Grasso said.

Grasso sent a check for $500 and that's the last he heard from him.

Both victims say they considered using a legitimate ticket broker, but went with Craigslist because the tickets were being offered at face value.

A spokeswoman for C3 Presents, the company that produces Lollapalooza, says they're aware of the scam and encourages everyone to buy tickets exclusively through the festival so that they can be "authenticated, registered to the individual and replaced in the case of loss or damage."

Click here to register your festival wristband.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[A Kinder, Gentler Rahm? Chicago's Mayor Gets Tough on Social Issues]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:42:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/emanuel-president.jpg

A kinder, gentler Rahm Emanuel has emerged this week, making two grand gestures that show a more compassionate side of the rough-edged Chicago mayor.

It is election season, after all.

Emanuel on Wednesday publicly defended a pair of controversial decisions to offer asylum to 1,000 immigrant children escaping Central America and give Chicago Public School grads an advantage in landing city jobs.

"These kids are leaving violence. There are 1,000 kids. We are not only a city of big shoulders. We’re a city of big hearts, and we welcome them and get ‘em on their way," said Emanuel, according to the Sun-Times. "And we will also make sure that the city of Chicago has universal pre-K, universal kindergarten, expanding after-school programs, expanding summer jobs, because the test and measure of this city is how we treat our children."

The mayor talked about his grandfather's harrowing escape from violence in Eastern Europe, recalling: "His parents put him on a boat to get away from the pogroms [and] leave the violence. Thirteen years old by himself. Not a word of English to come to a place called Chicago."

Emanuel is taking some heat from Chicagoans who think he should focus solely on helping children in the city's gang-and-gun-addled neighborhoods while winning kudos from a surprising source: the Tribune's conservative-leaning editorial board, which supports short-term care for child refugees from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

The U.S. government has asked Chicago to provide shelter and care in facilities that will be paid for by the feds.

Meanwhile, Emanuel refused to budge amid backlash over his plan to increase the CPS graduation rate through extending city job opportunities to diploma-holders who've made it through high school.

He said he wants to see public schools' diversity "represented in the workforce" and cited past hiring discrimination against African-Americans in city firefighter exams as a reason for his affirmative action-inspired agenda that has the Chicago Firefighters Union up in arms.

"We should make sure that kids who are graduating from CPS have a shot at working for the city and getting points for it is consistent with what we want to do because of the diversity of the city and the diverse talent in our city," he said, adding: "That means the Police and Fire Departments are part of it."

These are the kinds of tough social stances that make Emanuel appear decisive, fair and humane -- and could possibly revamp his tarnished image in the eyes of progressives and African-American groups with whom he's fallen out of favor.

With an uncertain re-election battle ahead -- possibly against the fiery, charismatic Chicago Teachers Union boss Karen Lewis -- it serves Emanuel well politically to reposition himself as a Democrat's Democrat rather than risk being viewed as what many suspect him to be: a Republican-in-Democrat's clothing.

<![CDATA[Officials Warn of Lolla Street Closures]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:44:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/237*120/75956927.jpg

This year’s Lollapalooza festival will have Chicago streets flowing with fans, but several streets in the South Loop will be closed to traffic thanks to the weekend festival.

Several streets bordering Grant Park will be blocked throughout the weekend, and some will remain closed into next week for the sold out festival, according to the Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

Officials said Columbus Drive will be closed from Monroe to Roosevelt until 4 p.m. Monday. Balbo Avenue will be closed from Michigan Avenue to Lake Shore Drive through next Thursday.

Jackson will also be closed from Michigan Avenue to Lake Shore Drive. Those closures will remain in effect until Wednesday.

Congress Parkway, including the Congress Circle, will also be blocked from Michigan Avenue to Columbus Drive, officials said.

Traffic aides will be in place to navigate drivers through the closures, but officials are encouraging riders to use public transportation.


CTA officials say Friday will be especially congested because of Lollapalooza and the Chicago Bears Family Fest at Soldier Field.

The CTA will operate longer trains on the Blue, Brown, Green, Orange and Red lines until at least 10 p.m., and longer trains and more frequent service on Saturday and Sunday until 10 p.m. or later.

Blue Line: On Friday, longer trains will operate to downtown until 11 p.m. Between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. trains will operate approximately every 8 minutes. On Saturday and Sunday, longer trains will operate beginning 1:30 p.m. until 11:30 p.m.

Brown Line: On Friday, longer trains will operate until 11 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday, longer trains will operate beginning at noon until 11 p.m.

Green Line: On Friday, longer trains will operate from Harlem/Lake until 10 p.m., and until 11 p.m. from 63rd/Cottage. On Saturday and Sunday, beginning 10 a.m., longer trains will operate from Harlem/Lake until 10 p.m., and until 11 p.m. from 63rd/Cottage.

Orange Line: On Friday, longer trains will operate until 10:45 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday, longer trains will operate beginning 10 a.m. until 10:45 p.m.

Pink and Purple Lines: Trains will operate on a normal schedule all weekend.

Red Line: On Friday between 6 p.m. and midnight, longer trains will be provided and operate approximately every 6 minutes. On Saturday and Sunday, longer trains will be provided until 1 a.m., and between the hours of 6:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. trains will operate approximately every 6 minutes.

Yellow Line: All weekend, service hours will be extended with trains operating from Howard until 1 a.m.

This year’s festival kicks off Friday in Grant Park and will feature weekend performances by headliners like Eminem, Skrillex, Kings of Leon and Arctic Monkeys.

Last year, city officials and festival organizers reported a crowd of 100,000 people attended the weekend festivities each day, setting a new record for the event.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kyle Long's Ready to Go]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 16:14:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/bearstraining9.jpg

Kyle Long went to the Pro Bowl as an NFL rookie last year but a viral infection has sidelined the second year guard for all six practices in training camp.  

Thursday Long told NBC Chicago he's not worried about any bumps in the road of his learning curve.

"In regards to last year, like (Offensive Coordinator Aaron) Kromer said I was like a baby last year and I'm starting to grow up a little bit in terms of my knowledge of the game."  
Long played on an offensive line that allowed just thirty sacks in 2013, lining up with veterans like Roberto Garza, Matt Slauson and Jermon Bushrod as well as Jay Cutler keeping him focused has made 2014 fun.
Despite calming the anxiousness to return, Long has taken part in the 6 practices, mentally.  "Even when Eben Britton is at right guard, Brian de la Puente and I are going over what our calls are as if we're in the game, everything except if you're playing the play. The pre-snap recognition and all those kind of reads are happening throughout practice whether you're in or not."
That and the fact this is Long's first offseason as an offensive linemen has made entering his sophomore campaign much easier. 
"I had never had an offseason really, I showed up at 2-a-days at Oregon, I didn't have any spring ball and then I showed up last year for training camp with only rookie mini camp under my belt" Long said Thursday.  "Krome and I were talking about that today, it was my first offseason, it was a lot of fun getting football in the offseason because I usually don't get that."
Sweating and still out of breath from his conditioning workout in the gym after practice Long was excited.  And barring "anything ridiculous" happening, Long says he'll be out there at Bears practice Saturday night.
"It's really tough you get that guilty conscience when you're sitting there in meetings and not seeing yourself on film."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Flight Attendant's Teen Daughter Charged With Murder]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 16:09:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Alyssa+Barrett+mug.jpg

The pregnant teen daughter of a United Airlines flight attendant found dead in the trunk of a car in Gary, Indiana, earlier this month has been implicated in her slaying.

Alyssa Barrett, 17, faces charges of murder and robbery resulting in bodily injury in connection with the death of her mother, 54-year-old DeCarol Deloney-Cain.

Barrett's boyfriend, 18-year-old Damarius Wren, was charged with first-degree murder in the case earlier this month.

According to court documents, the killing took place at the victim's Crown Point home on July 3 with Barrett present in the home when Wren attacked her mother.

Wren is accused of placing a pillow case over Deloney-Cain's head and repeatedly smashing her head against a staircase in the basement before stabbing her to death.

According to the Post-Tribune, the mother and daughter had a "fragile" relationship which got worse after Barrett became pregnant earlier this summer.

Both suspects are being held without bail.

Photo Credit: Lake County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Whole Foods Details Plans for New Stores]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 14:22:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/whole_foods.JPG

Whole Foods has reportedly announced plans to open the first of seven renovated Dominick’s stores next year.

The store, located at 255 E. Grand Ave. in Streeterville, will open Jan. 28, 2015, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

The company is set to open six other locations-- including storefronts in the West Loop, Edgewater, Lincoln Park, Evanston, Elmhurst—will open after the Streeterville location, but specific dates have not yet been announced.

Dominick's parent company, Safeway, announced last year its decision to pull its 72 stores out of the Chicago market because of poor sales.

Mariano's purchased 11 of the stores, and four Dominick’s stores have since re-opened as Jewel-Osco supermarkets.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed a high-level task force in Chicago to market the many still-vacant spaces.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lance Briggs Wants to Retire a Bear]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 15:03:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Giants-Bears-TNF.jpg

Father.  Commentator.  Philanthropist.  Cooking Enthusiast.  Comic Book Writer.  Bear.  

So reads the biography of the Bears 3rd round draft pick out of Arizona in the 2003 draft on his website.

"People don't need to know everything" Briggs laughed, while adding he should include adjectives "Wildcat" and "Herd Pride" for his college and high school affiliations too.

As well as Chicago Bear fans have gotten to know Lance Briggs over the past 12 years, it didn't take Nostradamus to see how unhappy the 2013 season was for No. 55.

"Last year was real rough" Briggs admitted Thursday after the team's 6th day of training camp practice in Bourbonnais, Illinois.  But today he is happy again.  "I'm not talking contract, just football" Briggs explained.  Despite being in the final year of his contract Briggs isn't threatening to never put on a Bears uniform again like he did the last contract negotiation he went through.   

"I just want to play football man, I've seen a lot of guys come and go, and I'm here and I'm happy and I'm just appreciative".  Briggs admits the seven consecutive Pro Bowls are a thing of the past explaining, "I lost a couple of steps.  Now sometimes I have to fall into a tackle" Briggs laughed.  "If I'm lucky a tackle will fall and I put my hand on him and get credit for it.  That's the stage I'm at in my career."  

A twelve year career  that has recorded 1,139 tackles, 15 sacks, 15 interceptions, 18 forced fumbles, 6 defensive touchdowns also third most in franchise history.  Like the Butkus' and Urlachers before him, Briggs is at peace with his career and wants to retire a Chicago Bear.

"Because I'm a Bear, I'm a true Bear" Briggs insisted.  "This is year 12 and I've given my blood sweat & tears to the city, playing for this team and when it's all said and done I'll retire as a Bear."

But first he has some hunting to do.  For Lions, Packers, Niners and Bills.


Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Little League Team Sets Sights on Historic World Series]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:51:03 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/baseball_generic.jpg

The Jackie Robinson West Little League team could make Chicago history.

The South Side team of 11- and 12-year-olds made it to the Great Lakes Regional Tournament in Indianapolis, and if they win, they advance to the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania.

That would make them the first all-black Chicago Little League team to make it that far in three decades, according to the Chicago Sun-Times

The team leaves for Indianapolis on Thursday night for the tournament that lasts through Aug. 9. They came within a game of the World Series last year, and this year, they hope to go all the way.

But they need some help.

"Little League has been gracious to provide hotel rooms and lunch for our players and coaches during their stay in Indianapolis," the team said. "JRW is responsible for the cost of transportation for the team and dinner each day for 13 players and three coaches."

The team plans to rent two vans and provide dinner for the kids each evening.
"We are asking you to make a donation to help defray the expenses of the 11-day trip," the team said.

If they make it to the Little League World Series, all costs associated with the trip will be paid by Little League.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Flickr RF]]>
<![CDATA[Soggy Weather Possible for Lollapalooza]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 16:16:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/Lolla_Hotties_07.jpg

Lollapalooza could get wet and muddy-- again.

The festival’s infamously rainy history may continue this year with the chance for isolated showers and storms forecast for the Chicago area Friday and Saturday.

The wet weather is expected to fall in 20-40 percent of the area during the afternoon and evening hours both days.

After a cool start to the week, the city will see temps in the low-80s for the first day of the festival.

Sunday looks to be the better day in terms of weather for the festival with temps in the low- to mid-80s and mostly sunny skies.

Fans drudged through soggy grounds during the opening day of the festival last year and thousands were evacuated from the area in 2012 after storms rolled through Chicago.

Fans also danced their way through muddy grounds and standing water after storms during the festival in 2011, causing “one of the worst aftermaths” Grant Park has seen.

This year’s festival kicks off Friday in Chicago’s Grant Park and will feature weekend performances by headliners like Eminem, Skrillex, Kings of Leon and Arctic Monkeys.

Last year, city officials and festival organizers reported a crowd of 100,000 people attended the weekend festivities each day, setting a new record for the event.

Photo Credit: Meredith Gregory ]]>
<![CDATA[Politico Switches Illinois Governor Race to 'Leans Republican' ]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 12:57:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Quinn_Rauner_4_11.jpg

Too early to call this for Bruce Rauner?

Nobody who follows Illinois politics will be the least bit surprised by news that Politico switched its projected outcome of the state's gubernatorial race from "toss-up" to "leans Republican."

States the DC-based site: "In Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn’s (D) terrible approval rating and the state’s struggling economy threaten his reelection efforts. We are now making venture capitalist Bruce Rauner (R) the favorite in Illinois, changing the rating from Toss-up to Leans Republican."

For months now, the odds have been increasingly stacked against Quinn as he contends with voter mistrust and headline-making corruption scandals over his botched anti-violence program and alleged patronage hiring within the Department of Transportation. The latter heads to court Oct. 22, thanks to a Quinn-directed lawsuit by attorney-activist Michael Shakman, and the timing could not be worse with the election slated for Nov. 4.

Meanwhile, Rauner continues to poll ahead of Quinn and gain popularity among surburbanites and downstaters as he pools more of his millions into beefing up a grassroots ground game as part of an concerted effort to grow the GOP's power in Illinois.

His own troubling controversies -- taking advantage of a corporate tax loophole, using his clout to get his daughter into an elite Chicago public school, making one bad business deal after another -- seem to be canceled out by Quinn's various dramas.

Barring a Romney-esque gaffe or two, the super-rich, nine-home-owning Rauner could certainly prevail at the ballot box come November for the simple reason that he is not Pat Quinn.

<![CDATA[Mundy Looks to Lead Bears Safeties to Bounceback Season]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 12:49:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/Giants-Lions01.jpg

The Chicago Bears entered the offseason with the safety postion as the biggest need. 

To help that position grow, the Bears brought in four new players to compete for the starting job at the position, and through the first practices in training camp, it would appear that Ryan Mundy is leading the charge.

“I’m feeling really good,” he said after Thursday’s practice. “We’re a work in progress, coming out here day after day knowing that we won’t be perfect. We are striving toward perfection though and trying to get to where we need to be. That’s what it’s all about.”

Mundy, a 29 year old who has played five seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants, primarily plays free safety, but he’s been bouncing back and forth between spots as Trestman and Mel Tucker look for the two best players to man the strong and free positions.

Not having set guys means that it’s tough for new players to take their cues from anyone, but Mundy has found that working with the coaching staff has been just as helpful as having a mentor in the group.

“Everyone has been really helpful, but more so than anyone, the coaches have been extremely good since we set foot in Chicago for offseason workouts,” he said. “They’ve been coaching us hard and have been on us every day on the fundamentals. We’ve done a good job of responding to it I think, and we need to keep that up.”

Even though Mundy and the other new players at the position weren’t around the Windy City while the defense was having one of its worst seasons ever, all of the players are aware of the obstacles that they face as they look to rebuild, but they aren’t dwelling on the past as workouts continue.

“A lot of guys weren’t here for what happened last year, but we do know what happened and we’re choosing not to dwell on it,” he said. “We’re really hungry though, and looking to play well together and execute at a high level.”

With Chris Conte and Craig Steltz both sidelined with injuries, and the team looking to ease rookie safety Brock Vereen into the picture, it would appear that Mundy has the inside track to grab one of the starting positions, but despite those expectations, he isn’t feeling the heat.

“No pressure at all. I have high expectations for myself and I don’t really try to focus on what’s going on outside of me in terms of who I’m up against for a spot,” he said. “That’s a great thing about our group. There are a lot of guys who are working hard individually, and as we do that, it will push the next guy to work harder.”

That mentality is prevalent among the defense when they’re going up against some of the great weapons on the Bears’ offense. With players like Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett roaming the middle of the field, Mundy feels that the team benefits from having to find creative ways to stop those All-Pro caliber receiving threats.

“They make us better,” he said. “Hopefully we make them better as well, but there’s a lot of ebb and flow to it too. You always hear Coach Trestman talk about how it’s a zero sum game. On each play, someone will win and someone will lose. We’ll win our fair share and lose our fair share, but in those wins and losses there will be teachable moments, so it’s important we look at them that way.”

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[ArrowStream CEO Listed in Critical Condition]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 21:09:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Lavoie-p1.jpg

ArrowStream Chairman and CEO Steven LaVoie is showing slight improvements after he was injured Thursday during a shooting at his office in Chicago's Loop.

Updates on LaVoie's condition are being posted at the Caring Bridge web site, and according to a post at about 8:30 p.m., the victim was listed in critical condition and was out of surgery.

His wife, Jody, was expected to be able to visit with him within the hour, according to the site.

LaVoie's condition was upgraded to critical after he was initially described as "grave."

Those who know the successful business entrepreneur call him an upstanding family man.

"He's a great guy. He's a nice guy and a family man," said one emotional neighbor who wished to remain anonymous. "Just a great guy."

A woman at the family's La Grange home, who described herself as a caretaker who's been with the family for 15 years, said LaVoie's wife, Jody, was with him at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. 

"I can't believe it. You don't hear about that kind of stuff around here. It's terrible," said neighbor Daniel Foley. "They're great. Good family."

LaVoie's family issued the following statement at about 6:30 p.m.:

"A horrific personal tragedy has happened today to two families. The family of Steven LaVoie would like to thank the staff and doctors at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Chicago law enforcement personnel for their ongoing and tireless efforts on behalf of Steven. Thank you to our family and friends for your outpouring of love and support. Our thoughts are also with Steven's extended family, the employees of ArrowStream, who mean so much to Steven. Finally, our prayers are with the other family affected by this tragedy."

A vigil was held at the family's place of worship, First Presbyterian Church of La Grange Thursday.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said that LaVoie was shot in the head and the stomach at the ArrowStream Offices at 231 S. LaSalle Street and was transported to Northwestern Memorial Hospital with "grave injuries."

McCarthy said it was an isolated incident and likely retaliation from an employee who was demoted recently. 

"What we have here is a workplace violence issue. Apparently there's a technological company on the 17th floor. They've been undergoing a downsizing. They've demoted a number of people."

The below clip, provided to NBC 5 by Supply Chain Quarterly, shows LaVoie discussing his business in 2012. 

According to a profile on Arrowstream.com, LaVoie founded the company, which provides supply chain management solutions for the food service industry, in 2000.

ArrowStream released a statement on the shooting at around 3:45 p.m.:

"This morning, a shooting occurred at ArrowStream’s 231 S. LaSalle Street office involving CEO Steven LaVoie and an ArrowStream employee. We are deeply saddened and shocked by the events that have occurred today. Our focus during this tragedy is to ensure the well being of our ArrowStream family. We want to assure our customers that our business continuity plan is in place, and our operations will continue to function normally. We appreciate the concern and care expressed by so many."

LaVoie, who earned a Master's degree from Yale University,  is married with three daughters, and, among other activities, serves on the Board of of the Chicago Institute of Psychoanalysis. 

<![CDATA[Shooting in Chicago's Loop]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 12:56:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Loop-Shooting-5.jpg One person was killed and another injured in a shooting in Chicago's Loop that police said appeared to be a murder-suicide incident.]]> <![CDATA[McCarthy Describes Shooting as "Workplace Violence Issue"]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 12:02:44 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000008226689_1200x675_313914947683.jpg Supt. Garry McCarthy releases details on what prompted a shooting inside a Loop building Thursday morning.]]> <![CDATA[CEO Critically Injured in Downtown High-Rise Shooting]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:52:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Lavoie-p1.jpg

The CEO of a Chicago-based company was critically injured in a shooting Thursday morning at his high-rise office in the city's Financial District downtown, police confirmed. Police said the gunman, a recently demoted executive at the company, took his own life.

Police responded to shots fired at 9:50 a.m. at 231 S. LaSalle on the 17th floor, listed as the old Bank of America Trade Operations Building. They found a 54-year-old victim, identified as ArrowStream CEO Steven LaVoie, injured with gunshot wounds to his stomach and his head and the 60-year-old gunman deceased with a gunshot wound to the head.

The shooter was identified by the medical examiner as Anthony DeFrances of Barrington.

"We are deeply saddened and shocked by the events that have occurred today," ArrowStream said in a statement. "Our focus during this tragedy is to ensure the well-being of our ArrowStream family."

"We want to assure our customers that our business continuity plan is in place, and our operations will continue to function normally."

According to a profile on arrowstream.com, LaVoie founded the company, which provides supply chain management solutions for the food service industry, in 2000.

DeFrances is listed on the company's website as ArrowStream's chief technology officer, with the company "virtually since its inception."

LaVoie and DeFrances were lying unresponsive on the floor of an office when police arrived. Supt. Garry McCarthy said the victim is in "grave condition."

Police said the gunman's wounds were self-inflicted. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The victim was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition.

"What we have here is a workplace violence issue," McCarthy told reporters. "Apparently there's a technological company on the 17th floor. They've been undergoing a downsizing. They've demoted a number of people."

An employee who had been demoted last week arrived Thursday morning for a one-on-one meeting with the CEO, McCarthy said.

"During the one-on-one, he produced a firearm," McCarthy said. "There apparently was a struggle over the firearm, the CEO was struck twice -- he is in grave condition -- and then the man took his own life."

The incident is being investigated as a possible murder-suicide incident, according to police.

Fire crews arriving to the scene initially were warned that a suspect was still on the floor and still armed, according to radio reports.

Police said the scene was contained at about 10:40 a.m. There was only one gunman involved.

Nearby Ann Taylor and Jos. A. Bank stores locked their doors after reports of the shooting.

Jessica Cazares, who works at nearby Caffe Baci, said she witnessed a chaotic scene outside the building.

"There were people running, afraid," she said, "but we thought it was a movie filming. This time it was a real situation."

Tiffany Baggett, a woman who works in the building, said an alarm went off in the building and everyone was told to stay on their floor of the building. Employees moved to a safer area, she said, away from the glass doors.

"I was just informed as an employee there was a shooting, so we just evacuated our reception area as quickly as possible," Baggett said.

Pedestrians were being held across the street as detectives and police entered the building.

<![CDATA[2 Teens Sexually Assaulted on Chicago's South Side]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 10:15:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/223*120/artesian+sexual+assault.jpg

Two teens were sexually assaulted on Chicago’s South Side this week, police said.

The first incident took place around 7:30 p.m. Monday in the 600 block of East 75th Street, according to a community alert issued by police.

A 16-year-old girl was walking home when a man attempted to make conversation with her. When she refused to speak, the girl was forced into an alley where she was then sexually assaulted, police said.

The offender was described as a black man with dark complexion, between the ages of 20 and 25, around 6 feet tall, weighing between 170 and 185 pounds.

The man was wearing dark blue baggy jeans and white Air Force One gym shoes, police said.

In a second incident just two days later, a 19-year-old woman was attacked while jogging just after midnight in the 6500 block of South Artesian Avenue.

The woman was approached by a man who was wearing a black hoodie to conceal his face, the community alert said.

He displayed a handgun and forced the victim into a gangway where she was then sexually assaulted, police said.

The offender was described as a black man, 5-foot-1 to 5-foot-3, weighing between 140 and 160 pounds. Police said the man was wearing a black hooded sweater with letters on the front.

Anyone with information surrounding either incident is being asked to call Area Central Detectives at (312) 747-8380.

<![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[Alderman Abandons Bartender Gig After DUI Arrest]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 08:55:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rey+colon+gallery.jpg

Chicago Ald. Rey Colon (35th) on Wednesday canceled plans to be a "celebrity bartender" following his arrest on suspicion of DUI a few days earlier.

Colon had been slated to take part in a fundraiser to support the "A Day in Avondale" neighborhood arts festival.

He was pulled over at about 1 a.m. Friday on the Eisenhower Expressway after his vehicle was seen drifting between lanes. State Police said he was given a field sobriety test, according to reports, and arrested.


<![CDATA[Man Charged With DUI After Driving Car Into Barrington Hills Pool]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 14:48:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/barrington-pool-1.jpg

A man was charged with DUI after driving his car into a swimming pool in northwest suburban Barrington Hills early Thursday morning.

The man drove the vehicle into the pool of a home on the 0-100 block of Longmeadow Court at about 4 a.m., according to Barrington Hills police.

Bikramjit S. Sian, 30, of Schaumburg, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 or greater, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Sian did not suffer any injuries, police said, but was taken to St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates for evaluation. 

He reportedly told police at the scene that three other people were in the car, but officials found no one else.

Photo Credit: Sky 5, NBC Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[No Injuries After Alsip Garage Explodes]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 08:27:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/alsip-fire-1.jpg

No one was injured when a garage exploded in Alsip, southwest of Chicago, fire officials said.

The Cook County Sheriff's Office said it was investigating the explosion on the 3700 block of 116th Place.

Video shot by resident T.J. Walsh showed fire crews spraying water on a large fire.

NBC Chicago has crews on the way.


Photo Credit: T.J. Walsh]]>
<![CDATA[Sex Offender Gets 20 Years for Floral Shop Stabbing]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 06:39:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/alexander+hampton.jpg

A violent sex offender was sentenced to 20 years in prison Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to charges of attempted murder in connection with a 2012 attack on an employee of a flower shop in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood.

Alexander Hampton, 26, pleaded guilty to the Feb. 17. 2012 crime during a hearing before Cook County Judge James Obbish, according to court records.

Hampton, who lived on the 3300 block of West Douglas Boulevard at the time of the attack, was charged with armed robbery and using a dangerous weapon for the incident at Asrai Garden floral shop, at 1935 W. North Avenue.

Hampton that morning handed a female employee a note announcing a robbery before the pair struggled. Hampton then picked up a cutting tool and stabbed the woman in her arm and head, police said.
The woman locked herself inside a bathroom, and the robber started banging on the door with a mop handle, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Hampton got away with cash from the register and an iPod, police said.

The woman received treatment at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County that day for her non-life threatening injuries.

<![CDATA[Baseball Board Resigns Over Cop Killer Coach]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 22:44:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Dean_Chavez.jpg

The son of slain Chicago police officer was successful in pressuring board members of a Hegewisch Babe Ruth baseball league to resign after discovering one of the men who killed his father coaching in the league.

All of the members of the board agreed to resign from their positions after a three-hour meeting Wednesday night except for the treasurer, who's only been in the position for a month.

Joey Mathews was 4 years old when his father -- Chicago Police officer John Mathews -- was beaten to death by several men in 1988.

Mathews learned in June that one of those men, Dean Chavez, was coaching in the local Babe Ruth Baseball program.

He says the league tried to brush the matter under the rug when he brought it up and Chavez was forced to resign after Mathews took the matter to the national Babe Ruth officials.

Wednesday's meeting was held at Steve's bar, and Mathews had an impressive show of support when he walked in, with current and retired police officers, family and friends surrounding the building to send a message.

Under the terms of Wednesday's agreement, the board members will still be eligible to coach in the baseball league and there will be more community involvement in who selects board members.

Mathews would also like the local and national Babe Ruth bylaws to be changed so it doesn't happen again.

The bylaws currently only cover rejecting potential coaches convicted of a sexual offense or an offense against a minor, according to Mathews.

<![CDATA[Grammar Police Criticize Greg Maddux HOF Plaque]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:15:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Greg_maddux_HOF_plaque.jpg

Baseball fans have found something to debate when it comes to Greg Maddux's Hall of Fame induction, and it has nothing to do with his stats.

The Cooperstown plaque for the former Braves and Cubs pitcher has provoked a social media debate over grammar.

As the Chicago Tribune pointed out Wednesday, the description describes Maddux as the "only hurler with ... less than 1,000 walks," when it should read "fewer than 1,000 walks."

"Fewer" should be used when referring to plural things that can be counted, while "less" should be used when referring to something that has no plural or cannot be counted.

"Fewer" is the proper usage for objects that can be counted one-by-one, and "less" should be used for qualities or quantities that cannot be counted individually. (For example: "I have fewer dollars and less money.")

Or if all else fails, just call up your old English teacher.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rahm Introduces Minimum Wage Ordinance]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:47:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/minimum+wage+worker+ace.jpg

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has introduced an ordinance that would gradually increase the minimum wage in the city to $13 an hour.

The proposal would increase the current $8.25 minimum wage by 45 percent over the next four years. If approved by the City Council, wages would increase $1.25 an hour in each of the next three years. A $1 increase would take place in 2018.

Emanuel contends the increase would affect more than 400,000 workers in Chicago, about 30 percent of the workforce. He says the hike would add $800 million to the local economy.

However, restaurant owner Rocky Gupta said Wednesday businesses like his would probably cut staff and raise prices.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association contends the proposed minimum wage hike could drive businesses out of Chicago.

<![CDATA[Gay Church Employee Fired Over Engagement]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 07:53:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Colin-Collette.jpg

The music director of a Illinois church lost his job after getting engaged to be married.

Colin Collette got engaged to his longtime partner in Rome last week. But after announcing his big news, he was fired Monday from the Holy Family Church in the suburb of Inverness.

"He's a little more angry right now at this moment, and understandably so, because I think he's concerned for me. He knows the church is my life," Collette said of his partner, William.

"It's not even as much that this is happening to me, but that Holy Family will never be the same. Holy Family was this Catholic community that was said to be different," he said.

The Archdiocese of Chicago issued a statement saying it was aware of the situation at Holy Family and would not comment on an individual's personnel issues.

"Pastors hire and dismiss all parish personnel and govern according to the teachings of the Church and Archdiocesan policies. This is a matter of personal integrity on their part," the Archdiocese of Chicago said in a statement. "Those that serve as Ministers of the Church, including worship ministers, are expected to conform their lives publicly with the teachings of the Church." 

Collette finds the Archdiocese response troubling because he says his relationship was far from private. He says his partner -- also a Catholic -- has even read scripture at the church.

"Everybody was welcome. That was our hallmark. All are welcome. Well, that's all changed now. That's become a lie," Collette said.

Collette said he wouldn't hesitate to take his job back, but doesn't expect an invitation to return. He says he will return to the church to worship.

<![CDATA[Lollapalooza Preps for 10th Chicago Anniversary]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:03:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/lollapalooza-generic-2012.jpg

When Lollapalooza first made it's Grant Park debut in 2005, there were only a few dozen acts on five stages, and the two-day event attracted 65,000 people.

This year, for the 10th anniversary, organizers are expecting 100,000 people each of the three days, with 137 acts on eight stages.

The annual event has become securely entrenched in the city's culture.

"It's as synonymous with Chicago as blues music is, and house music, and it's resonating globally, which is helping us to achieve the mayor's goals for increasing visitation to Chicago," said Meghan Risch of Choose Chicago.

Weather is always something event organizers can't control. Rain can turn the grounds into a muddy mess and the entire festival had to be evacuated in 2012.

But the company that produces Lollapalooza, C3 Presents, foots the bill for any damages caused during the three-day event.

Last year, Chicago Police credited the beefed-up fencing and increased security with decreased crime at the festival and fewer fence jumpers.

"You're in the city of Chicago when you're at Lollapalooza and the city enforces the laws, so abide by the laws," Lollapalooza spokesperson Lindsay Hoffman said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Brandon Marshall Thinks Jay Cutler Can Be MVP]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 17:00:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/bears+packers+12-29+5.jpg

Peyton Manning is the current MVP, and his receivers led the NFL as the top tandem in the league.

But Bears Wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery were just two yards away. Is Jay Cutler just as close to Manning as a potential MVP?

Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall thinks so.

He was interviewed by the NFL Network's Michael Irvin Wednesday at Bears camp in Bourbonnais. Among the questions the Cowboys Hall of Famer had for Marshall was just how good the Bears wide receivers could be with a healthy Jay Cutler.

Marshall and Alshon Jeffery's 2,716 total yards receiving finished second in 2013 to Peyton Manning's wide receiver tandem of Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker's 2,718 total yards. That's just 2 total yards separating the two groups.

But, Irvin pointed out, Marshall and Jeffery did it with two different quarterbacks. Thomas and Decker had Peyton Manning.

"I asked Brandon that same question," Irvin explained. "What do you think a healthy Jay Cutler [is worth] 16 games?" 

"Oh, if I get 15 games out of Jay Cutler, MVP of the league," Marshall told Irvin.

Irvin laughed. "That's high praise! You're just going to take Peyton Manning off that shelf and put Jay Cutler up there?!"

Marshall didn't back down when talking to Chicago reporters after the NFL Network interview. Cutler MVP?  "Absolutely, with Coach Trestman and [Offensive Coordinator Aaron] Kromer and our offense, our offensive line, are studs. They work together. And we have special group at the skill positions. With [Matt] Forte and Alshon [Jeffery] and Martellus [Bennett] and Q [Marquess Wilson], I think absolutely."

Marshall explained that Cutler has great balance in his life now and is always the first one in the building at 5 a.m.

What's different? "Everything," Marshall said.

Since the inception of the Pro Football Writer's Associations MVP award in 1975, only one Chicago Bear has ever won the distinction: Walter Payton, a running back. 

So a Bears Quarterback as MVP?  Yes, that would be different.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Medical Marijuana Could Soon Be Sold Next to a Starbucks Near You]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 16:30:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/e2f571ea7dd14bf8a3933c66e4655798.jpg

Smell that?

It's the funky stench of victory for champions of expanding access to medical marijuana in an increasingly weed-friendly Windy City.

In a meeting Wednesday, the Chicago City Council approved loosening the reins on zoning restrictions that would keep medical marijuana dispensaries out of the city's shopping districts among other high-traffic hotspots.

The City Council's Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards okayed rules on Tuesday that allows medical pot to be sold in tourist-heavy neighborhoods and trendy city blocks. Dispensaries won't be permitted in residential buildings nor within 1,000 feet of schools and other areas where children hang out. Growers and sellers will need to obtain special-use permits.

"We tried to put together the best ordinance that would allow for the service of the medical cannabis, but it’s also going to be looking out for the interest of our community, residents and schools," said 25th Ward Ald. Danny Solis, who chairs the zoning committee.

The paper quoted Chris Lindsey, an analyst for the D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, as saying: "In a perfect world the city of Chicago would treat dispensaries no differently than pharmacies. However, we applaud the committee's recommendations. We believe that it will help that seriously ill patients are not treated as second class citizens and have reasonable access to regulated dispensaries in the city."

Ald. Ed Burke, of the 14th Ward, denied that he sought to marginalize vendors to the city's outskirts in a previous proposal, saying: "Under the state law, there was virtually no place in the city of Chicago where dispensaries and/or cultivation centers could be located."

The committee approved revamped zoning regulations after the state gave the greenlight to set up 13 dispensaries in Chicago.

Earlier this month, Illinois officials agreed upon guidelines for the state's medical cannabis program that alllow patients to apply for the required identification cards beginning in September.

Recreational marijuana is still illegal in Illinois, but medical use is seen as a gateway to full-scale legalization.

<![CDATA[Gov. Quinn Will Have a Terrible, No Good, Very Bad October]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:57:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/pat+quinn+QA.jpg

October is looking rough for embattled Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn as two corruption investigations slated for that month could derail his campaign so close to election day.

There's the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative probe by the Legislative Audit Commission that re-opens Oct. 8 so as not to overlap with a federal investigation into Quinn's botched anti-violence program.

On top of that, news comes that a Quinn-targeted lawsuit from clout-busting attorney-activist Michael Shakman will head to court Oct. 22, just two weeks before the ballot box opens Nov. 4 and voters decide whether to keep Quinn in office or install his Republican rival Bruce Rauner.

Shakman has requested to probe allegedly improper hiring practices inside the Department of Transportation and recruit a watchdog to keep an eye on anything illegal at every state agency. Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, has said the lawyer's efforts undermine his "concrete and meaningful steps" to clean up patronage hiring left over from previous state leaders including disgraced ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Noting the pile-up of PR disasters, Capitol Fax's Rich Miller ponders: "Is Quinn’s much-vaunted luck finally running out?"

Bad timing is an understatement.