<![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 Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:24:36 -0500 Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:24:36 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Cutler Shows Up to Camp in Old School Conversion Van]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:05:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/cutler_van.jpg

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is rolling in dough after signing a rich seven-year extension over the offseason, but despite having more money in his wallet, he didn’t show up to training camp in Bourbonnais in a Rolls Royce, a Ferrari, or even an Escalade (the vehicle he came to town in last year).

He showed up in this:

Granted, we're not talking about your run-of-the-mill minivan:

But Cutler isn't concerned about vans, he's focused on one goal -- getting the team into the playoffs and to the Super Bowl. And frankly, he doesn’t care how they do it:

Cutler has a lot to live up to when it comes to his new contract. Under head coach Marc Trestman, Cutler threw for 2621 yards and 19 touchdowns, but he still turned the ball over too often (he threw 12 interceptions, which represented a slight decline from the 2012 season but he also had 79 fewer attempted passes), and his decision-making has still been a question mark.

Even still, Cutler doesn't have to worry about his job coming into camp. The back-up quarterback spot, which will likely be contested between Jordan Palmer (whom Marc Trestman tagged as the guy who will get the first shot at it) and Jimmy Clausen during the preseason, will be the real storyline to watch in camp. 

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<![CDATA[Chicago Restaurants Avoid BYOB Crackdown]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:53:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/beer_generic.jpg A city ordinance designed to crack down on businesses that allow customers to bring their own booze won't have any affect on Chicago's restaurants.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the City Council Licence Committee passed a pared-down ordinance that targets barbershops, pool halls, nail salons and other businesses that allow customers to bring in alcohol.

Aldermen will have the ability to remove BYOB privileges from portions of their wards covering “no less than two contiguous city blocks."

Violators could be fined anywhere from $500-to-$1,000 for each offense, the newspaper reported.

Ald. Deborah Graham (29th) sponsored the ordinance after concerns of some businesses throwing rowdy, alcohol-fueled parties.

Photo Credit: clipart.com]]>
<![CDATA[Opinion: What Bruce Rauner's Uber Love Means For Illinois]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:45:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Bruce_Rauner_budget.jpg

When Bruce Rauner professed his love for Uber on Tuesday, calling for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn to veto a bill that would impose heavy regulations upon the rapidly growing ride-share start-up, his gushing message signaled progress for the youthful tech-innovation crowd and potential doom for the taxi industry.

From the GOP gubernatorial hopeful-veteran venture capitalist to old-school taxicabs: You're toast. Also uncool. Step aside and make room for The New Economy.

To Uber and its quest to take over Chicago: Spread your wings and fly!

To Silicon Valley start-ups hoping to recreate Uber's success: See, Illinois isn't so bad. Forget what Rick Perry may have told you over steaks at Gibson's.

Rauner's pledge of support for Uber rips a page from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's successful appeal to San Francisco's tech elites who increasingly lean libertarian, value unrestrained capitalism where companies like Uber are concerned and boast billions to spend on political campaigns and causes.

"Today's Silicon Valley is still exceedingly liberal on social issues. But it seems more skeptical about taxes and business regulation than at any point in its recent history," writes New York Magazine's Kevin Roose. "Part of this is due to the rise of companies like Uber and Tesla Motors, blazing-hot start-ups that have been opposed at every turn by protectionist regulators and trade unions, in confrontations that are being used by small-government conservatives as case studies in government control run amok."

In other words, America's tech bros are going to eat up Rauner's "I love Uber" endorsement -- more like stunt -- hook, line, and sinker. Nevermind that the flip-flopping Winnetka businessman glosses over the nitty-gritty of the General Assembly's ride-share regulation bill: commercial insurance and background checks for drivers, which Rauner says he supports but Uber wants to prevent.

"Uber is an innovative, growing company that provides ride-share services to millions of people across the country and wants to create 425 more jobs right here in Illinois ... Illinois should encourage companies like Uber to grow here, but this bill does the opposite," said Rauner in a statement, adding: "Ride-share drivers should have insurance and background checks. But Pat Quinn shouldn’t sign this bill – it sends another signal that Illinois is closed to innovation."

As Rauner has learned with his new tax-and-jobs growth plan, which is polling well despite making absolutely no sense, it's more effective to tell potential voters what they want to hear -- innovation, efficiency, jobs, Steve Jobs! -- and sweep the other stuff under the rug.

But make no mistake: Having Rauner in Springfield and Mayor Rahm Emanuel at City Hall could be a win-win for Uber and its ilk and a massive double whammy for taxi drivers fearful of losing customers to smartphone-friendly competitors.

Back in May, Emanuel -- whose super-agent brother is among Uber's most powerful investors -- pushed through controversial legislation that bars ride-sharing apps from picking up passengers at local airports and McCormick Place. The loophole: City transportation authorities reserve the power to approve O'Hare and Midway as Uber zones, which means the provision -- taking effect later this summer -- is basically moot.

As governor, Rauner is likely to support Uber's encroachment into taxi territory and work to remove that airport ban without making Emanuel look like the bad guy.

As an elected official-in-training, Rauner apparently sees no hypocritical differences in railing against special interests in politics (like the taxi business) while at the same time supporting Uber, which employs global team of government lobbyists.

And like any good venture capitalist, Rauner cannot resist an opportunity to make money. He hasn't directly invested in the rising-star ride-share app but he does hold stock in one of its backers, Goldman Sachs. No longer a partner at GTCR -- the Chicago private equity firm he founded three decades ago -- Rauner is essentially trumpeting the San Francisco-based outfit as a good investment in his public love letter to Uber, which he says his kids use.

Uber's meteoric rise has coincided with a barrage of bad press over its hyper-capitalist biz model and surge pricing feature that has led to ridiculously overinflated fares during inclement weather and absurd rides to the bar down the street.

In Rauner's viewpoint, watching Uber's remarkable expansion must be something of a spectator sport, even though it threatens to shutter traditional cab companies and leave consumers with giant tabs.

Cue the line favored by corporate types: It's not personal. It's business.

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<![CDATA[Park Grill Case Raises Questions About Daley's Health]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:50:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/daley-sox-game.jpg

Former Mayor Richard Daley won't have to testify in an ongoing lawsuit seeking to break the lease for a Millenium Park restaurant. But the facts surrounding his testimony, or lack of it, only heighten the mystery about Daley's current condition.

Attorneys for the Park Grill restaurant wanted Daley to testify in their defense, amid allegations that the restaurant benefitted from a sweetheart deal when they obtained a 30 year contract to operate the venue. Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration charged that a former Park District official unfairly influenced the process, paving the way for a friend to operate the restaurant.

Daley's attorneys, claiming medical hardship, fought the subpoena. Cook County Judge Moshe Jacobius asked to examine his medical records in chambers, but he never ruled. After meeting with the judge, the Park Grill attorneys abruptly withdrew their demand that he testify in their case.

"We saw the medical information which I cannot disclose, and it was such that it was the right thing to do to withdraw the subpoena," lawyer Stephen Novack said. "I can't say anything at all about what was in there."

"My clients are very disappointed that circumstances have turned out such that Mayor Daley is not going to testify," Novack said. "We believed that he had lots of good evidence for us and that if he came and told the truth it would further our case. As it is, we're now allowed to use his deposition, and as you know he didn't remember a lot during that deposition, but there were many things that he did confirm for us, there's a lot of good information in there that we're going to use."

Novack added cryptically, "If he were the way he was back in the time I took the deposition, we were counting on him to give very good testimony for us."

But what, exactly, is his condition? No one will elaborate.

Daley fell ill on a business trip to Arizona in late January. He was picked up by ambulance at Midway Airport, and underwent a week of treatment at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, for what were described as "stroke-like" symptoms.

The former mayor left the hospital under his own power but did not take questions. Since that time, sightings have been rare, the most notable being his attendance at Sox opening day in March.

Speculation has swirled about Daley's medical condition, ever since his attorneys raised the medical defense in trying to prevent his appearance at the Park Grill trial. Wednesday, a source who had seen Daley, insisted to NBC 5 he is NOT incapacitated, and is "not grave". The source said "he has a way to go for sure, but is not in 'terrible' shape."

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<![CDATA[Child Dies in Bensenville House Fire]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:17:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Bensenville_fatal_fire_2.jpg

A child hiding behind a dresser died in a Bensenville house fire Wednesday afternoon.

Emergency crews were called to the burning home in the 1500 block of West Devon Avenue at about 2 p.m.

Family members told firefighters there was a 4-year-old boy in the back room of the home, but they were not able to get to him in time.

"Firefighters made a frantic effort to search for the baby, but by the time they found the child, the child was deceased," Bensenville Fire Department spokesman David Traiforos said.

A neighbor told NBC 5 that the child's mother and three other children were able to escape. The surviving children were a 9-month-old girl, and 18-month-old boy and a 6-year-old girl.

Two dogs in a cage, a rottweiler and a pit bull, also perished in the fire.

The child's mother was treated for smoke inhalation at a local hospital but was expected to be OK.

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<![CDATA[Man Wrongly Convicted of Murder Released From Prison]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:10:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Rodell_Sanders.jpg

A suburban Chicago man wrongly convicted of murder got a taste of freedom for the first time in 20 years Wednesday.

Rodell Sanders received a new trial and was acquitted after a witness recanted.

"I am happy to be out. I am thankful to be out. I am happy I survived as long as I did. I'm thankful for my legal team. I am thankful for my family that stood by me all this time," Sanders said.

Sanders was serving an 80-year sentence for a crime he never committed. He was identified in a photo lineup by the surviving victim of the robbery, but his attorneys say police doctored the photo.

"Anyone viewing that photo array would know you wouldn't put a photo with errors in it just to be a filler. That to be the suspect's photograph," attorney Russell Ainsworth said.

After he was convicted, Sanders became a student of the law, and acted as his own attorney at the hearing that won him a new trial.

"I took about $1,000 -- asked my sister Virginia to buy me about $1,000 worth of legal books, and I taught myself the law as much as I can, and I took on the justice system," Sanders said.

Sanders was reunited with his children and grandchildren Wednesday.

"I tell him all the time that I can't even believe the things he's done. He's a talker, without a doubt, so yeah, he is unbelievable," Sanders' eldest daughter, Lynette Booth, said.

Sanders is suing the Chicago Heights police department and the officers involved in his case, but he says he's not bitter or angry -- he'd like to work for change by helping others wrongly convicted and serving time.

"I want to go out. I want to work. I love law, love the courtroom. I would love to go on to be a paralegal or a lawyer or something like that," Sanders said.
 

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<![CDATA[Illinois Summer Gardens & Flowers]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:27:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/631c59385a6d4be98076c8750b327581.jpg Here are your photos of Illinois' beautiful summer gardens, flowers and creepy crawlers. ]]> <![CDATA[One Fan's Quest for Garth Brooks Tickets]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:30:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP444604202714.jpg

This is not a professionally written news story.  I say that because I am an unabashed, die-hard, three decade fan of Garth Brooks. 

And I want tickets.

But I've found out that scoring tickets is pretty confusing. 

Plenty of ticket sites claim to have secret stashes of tickets that aren’t yet supposed to be available or were supposed to have sold out. But how do you know when to fork over the big bucks for the unofficial sites claiming to have the advanced sale or miracle ticket deals?

For those of you who have been living in a cave, or who only read the International Herald Tribune, or possibly have been in some kind of time vortex, Brooks is the most popular performer, basically, since somebody stood up and sang in front of a brontosaurus. So in that regard, I am one of about 4 billion people.

Thirteen years ago, Brooks walked away from show business and retired to spend more time with his young daughters. Now that college has claimed them, he is back out there and his comeback concert is scheduled for Sept. 4 at Chicago’s Allstate Arena.

Just to give you an idea how big of a deal this is, when he announced five shows in Ireland, they sold out almost instantaneously-- all 400,000 tickets. Then there was a glitch with neighbors and the arena or something, and those shows got canceled.

Have I mentioned that the Chicago show will be his very first actual concert in years? Sure, he did that solo thing in Las Vegas with an acoustic guitar on weekends, but that was not a big, full Garth arena show. If you’ve never seen one, it’s kind of like watching a nuclear explosion in a dynamite factory.

But bigger.

Brooks is known for being almost maniacally loyal to his fans. Ticket prices have always been kept low, and were always one price. For this show, the top seat is to be less than $60 and there are no advance sales. Tickets are set to become available until 10 a.m. Friday on the Ticketmaster website.

So how is it that brokers already claim to have them?

Places like StubHub, TicketsPronto and Vividseats all purport to have tickets available on their web sites.

Stubhub claims to have 209 tickets available for Garth Brooks. Ten tickets in the front floor section, advertised at $2,500, and two tickets in section 103 on the side for $1,103 apiece. In the upper balcony section 214, 18 tickets are available for $206.29 each (Really? $206.29?).

Stubhub spokesman Glenn Lehrman explained by phone from San Francisco that all of their seats would be best classified as “anticipatory,” but with solid reasoning behind that anticipation.

“The way the concert ticket industry works is that these are all likely tickets given to brokers by the venue, management, or the artists themselves,” he said.

When I told him that Brooks is famous for not working that way, Lehrman said, “I have trouble believing that. He would be the first artist in history to not follow that policy.”

Lehrman said only 30 to 40 percent of available tickets are actually put on Ticketmaster for sale to the general public. The rest end up on the secondary market.

TicketsPronto doesn’t say how many tickets they’ve got available for the Brooks concert, but their web site listed them at $2,640 for section 1 on the floor and down to $260 for seats in the rafters.

A clerk on their toll free number insisted to me that they had tickets, but when I called back and identified myself as a reporter a different clerk told me they didn’t really have a media contact, but admitted they also didn’t really have any tickets yet.

“You can pre-order them,” he said. “They’re not on hand right now.”

What about those prices? He said those are basically the price being offered for seats in the last row of the given sections on the chart. But the actual seats might be closer.

“We guarantee you’re going to get them in that section,” he said.

Could it be something is leaking out of the arena?

Officials at the Allstate Arena say no. No tickets. Not yet. No one has them.

Period.

Brooks’ spokeswoman Nancy Seltzer said “absolutely no tickets” have been released.

“With the greatest of respect to the StubHub gentleman, he is completely wrong,” she said. “If, as he says, Garth Brooks is the first artist in history not to work with ticket brokers, then I guess he is. Garth Brooks takes care of the public in the best way possible…fairly. He has always been known for this and always lives up to it. I can only repeat that no ‘for sale’ tickets have been released, and will not be released for sale until Friday morning at 10 a.m. sharp.”

So, get ready for Friday morning fellow fans.

A memo to bosses out there: If lots of people are missing at the start of business, they’ll come streaming in eventually. They just can’t trust the internet connections you’ve given them, and making sure you have good internet to tackle Ticketmaster for Garth Brooks tickets is kind of important. You know, like childbirth. Or life.

Better to be safe on a home connection than sorry and hear about the concert from your friends the next day.

As for me, if my boss is reading this, you will absolutely see me on Friday.

Eventually.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Architect Suggests Drastic Changes for Montrose Beach]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:18:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Montrose_beach_instagram.jpg

A Chicago architect has come up with a plan that would eliminate much of the free parking at Montrose Beach, a factor one alderman believes contributed to a drunken melee at an un-permitted concert earlier this month.

Ald. James Cappleman, whose 46th Ward encompasses Montrose Beach, demanded action after similar recent incidents, complaining that the beach allows large crowds to gather more easily than any other on the lakefront.

Architect Matt Nardella's plan seeks to eliminate what he calls "huge swaths of asphalt parking lots smack dab in the middle of prime parkland."

"There's about 9 acres of asphalt between those two parking lots and I think there could be better use for that space other than storing automobiles," Nardella said.

He suggests replacing some of the parking with additional green space, and reconfigurating the area to include:

  • A cycle cross track using the looped paved driving areas to separate bikers from walkers.
  • Trading out some parking spaces for additional bike parking and bike access points.
  • Expanding the dock building.
  • Creating boardwalk space adjacent to the beach that local food trucks could use without adding infrastructure.
  • Adding metered parallel parking to Montrose, Simonds and Lawrence.
  • Adding more Divvy bike stations.
  • Expanding the bird sanctuary.

A Park District spokeswoman told the Chicago Tribune that Nardella's plan has not been reviewed.



Photo Credit: roachbytes/Instagram]]>
<![CDATA[Judge Lets Daley Off the Hook in Park Grill Case]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:50:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/daley+first.jpg

A Cook County judge cut ex-Mayor Richard M. Daley a break on Wednesday, sparing him from having to testify in Chicago's lawsuit to against the owners of the Park Grill eatery at Millennium Park.

The Circuit Court Judge Moshe Jacobius sided with Daley's lawyers in ruling that the former city boss should not be summoned for testimony due to an unspecified health issue.

Jacobius said the 72-year-old Daley -- who reportedly suffered a stroke in January but has not confirmed it -- was allowed to privately reveal his medical records rather than expose them in public court.

"We saw the medical information, and it was such, that the right thing to do is to throw out that subpeona," Jacobius said.

The Park Grille team will rely on a deposition provided by Daley last year.

"If he were the way he was, back at the time of the deposition, we were counting on him to give very good testimony for us," Jacobius said.  

Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to terminate the expensive, long-term contract with Park Grill's clouted-up investor group that dates back to 2003.

City Hall filed suit three years ago and Emanuel has said Chicago taxpayers were exploited in the deal. Daley was considered a crucial witness in Emanuel's crusade to break up the lease.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Emery: Conte Will Miss First Preseason Game ]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:14:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP691227111216_6.jpg

The Chicago Bears knew that they would likely be without at least one of their potential starters when training camp gets underway at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, but when the team hits the field Friday, they will be without another key element to their squad.

That’s because right guard Kyle Long, who parlayed a starting role with the team last season into a dominant Pro Bowl campaign, will be sidelined for at least the first few days of camp, according to GM Phil Emery. Long is suffering from a viral infection, which has cost him some strength, and he will be re-evaluated next week, according to Emery.

Long will begin training camp on the active physically unable to perform list, and he will be joined on that list by safety Chris Conte.

Conte, who will be battling with players like Brock Vereen for a starting spot in the Bears’ defensive formation, had offseason shoulder surgery, and he isn’t far enough in his recovery to begin practicing yet. Emery ruled Conte out of the team’s first preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles on August 8 at Soldier Field, but said he could begin practicing with the team after that date.

The Bears did have some good news on the injury front, with Jordan Mills (broken right foot) and Matt Slauson (shoulder surgery) both likely being on the field when camp begins on Friday. The team’s first practice will take place at 9am at the school, with everyone on the roster required to report to camp by midnight on Wednesday night.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Man Hopes to Buy Ad Space on CTA Trains, Post Jokes]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:12:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CTA_train_generic.jpg

One CTA rider is hoping to bring some enjoyment to what is often a hairy commute by putting joke ads on Chicago Transit Authority trains.

Ben Larrison has started a Kickstarter fund hoping to raise enough money to purchase ad space in 100 CTA cars.

"I want to buy ad space in 100 CTA train cars, so that I can legally put ridiculous stuff up in 100 CTA train cars, and make our commutes more fun,” Larrison wrote on the fundraising page. “With our ads, we will be able to inject a little silliness, fun and absurdity into the everyday lives of hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans.”

Potential ads would feature things like “facts about squirrels,” which would use the hashtag #SquirrelTruth to post made-up facts about the animal.

For example, “you can’t prove that squirrels aren’t all plotting to sneak into our bedrooms and tickle us in our sleep.”

Larrison said he hopes the ads would make a small change in the commutes of the millions of CTA riders each day.

“Imagine how much more interesting we could make those rides—how many commuters’ days we could brighten, how many tourists we could confuse, how many awkward dates we could lend a source of conversation,” he wrote.

But Larrison also claims his project is intended to take a stance against the bombardment of advertisements.

“We can’t stop this advertising onslaught, but we can take back just a tiny little bit of what we see—and make it super ridiculous and dumb,” he wrote.

Larrison claims he spokes with advertising officials for the CTA and said the idea for his project is doable, with a little more than $4,000.

Posted just two days ago, the Kickstarter has raised more than $300. Larrison hopes to raise $4,100 in the next 30 days.

According to advertising guidelines on the CTA’s website, all advertisements must be approved before they can be published.

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<![CDATA[Daley's Medical Records to Stay Private in Park Grill Case]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:49:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/daley+first.jpg

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley's medical records will remain private in Chicago's lawsuit against the Park Grill owners, a Cook County judge ruled Wednesday.

Daley's attorneys instead will give a private, on-camera deposition on his medical condition in the judge's chambers. That information will not be disclosed or presented in court.   

The former mayor's attorneys had filed their response earlier this month in the city’s case to end the long-standing agreement with the Millennium Park restaurant, explaining why Daley wants an “in camera” inspection – for the judge only -- of his medical records rather than release them in open court. 

One of his attorneys, Terrence Burns, cited “Mr. Daley’s medical information is privileged and confidential.”

Daley is not excused from testifying in the case, though, and Judge Moshe Jacobius still plans to argue in open court whether or not he will be forced to testify. If that happens, attorneys will have to omit details on Daley's health.

The 72-year-old Daley reportedly suffered a stroke in January but has not confirmed it. His attorneys argued his “medical information has no bearing on any claim or defense in the litigation.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to end the contract with the clout-heavy investors. Daley’s attorney says the former mayor has a medical hardship and “has offered to provide evidence by way of medical affidavits” but wants those records “reviewed in camera” because they “contain information that is private, confidential and privileged.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Killed by Flying Tire on Bishop Ford Freeway]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:12:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/bishop-ford-072314-1.jpg

A woman traveling northbound on the Bishop Ford Freeway was killed Wednesday morning when she was struck by a tire that came off a vehicle headed in the opposite direction, a spokesperson with the Illinois State Police told NBC Chicago.

First responders had to free Jovanka Mijatov, 64, who was pinned in her white 2011 Nissan Versa by "debris" after the 6:10 a.m. crash, Illinois State Police Trooper David Roman said.

Mijatov, of Schererville, Indiana, was taken by ambulance to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where she was pronounced dead.

Nearby, a green 1997 Chevrolet Blazer driven by 48-year-old Mariana Blanco, of Hammond, Indiana, was pulled over to the side of the southbound lane without a left rear tire.

Blanco faces three citations: driving without valid insurance, driving without valid registration and driving with unsafe tires.

Traffic on the freeway was backed up for nearly 10 miles, to Interstate 80. Commuters got by the accident scene using just one lane until about 9 a.m.

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<![CDATA[Study Finds Talking to Strangers May Improve Your Commute]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:53:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/188*120/mta+crowded+subway+train.JPG

Chicago commutes aren’t easy, especially for the many who attempt to fit on incredibly crowded trains and buses throughout the city during rush hour.

But if being smashed into a subway car so tight you can barely scratch your nose wasn’t painful enough, try making small talk with the person stepping on your toes.
No really, try it.

According to a new study in The Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, researchers from the University Of Chicago Booth School Of Business found that people report a more positive commute after they talk to a stranger.

In the study, researchers Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder asked Chicago commuters to talk to strangers, sit in solitude, or commute as they typically do.

Their findings showed that while many commuters predicted they would have a more negative commute if they talked to strangers, they reported a more positive experience when they connected than when they did not.

Many participants reported that they thought sitting in silence would be better because they thought other commuters wouldn’t want to talk to them.

Researchers, however, said the findings indicated that “the pleasure of connection seems contagious.”

“This mistaken preference for solitude stems partly from underestimating others’ interest in connecting, which in turn keeps people from learning the actual consequences of social interaction,” researchers wrote. “Those who misunderstand the consequences of social interactions may not, in at least some contexts, be social enough for their own well-being.”



Photo Credit: Chris Hondros/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Durbin to Putin: Take Responsibility for MH17 Crash]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:10:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/452372430.jpg

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin on Tuesday called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to accept responsibility for downing a Malaysian Airlines jetliner over eastern Ukraine.

The Illinois Democrat, speaking on the floor of the United States Senate, also said Putin should do what he can to ensure unfettered access to the crash site.

Nearly 300 people aboard Flight 17 died last week due to an alleged missile attack. President Barack Obama has said evidence indicates the airliner was shot down by a surface-to-air missile from an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists.

"All signs point to Putin, the Russians and their supporters in Eastern Ukraine as being responsible," Durbin said.

He called separatists in the region "thugs," and said they've been "armed, financed and inspired by Vladimir Putin and the Russians."



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[High Waves Prompt Beach Warning in Chicago]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:01:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/216*120/surfer+lake+michigan+7-23.jpg

With cooler temps and windy conditions Wednesday comes dangerous waves along Chicago shores.

The National Weather Service issued a Beach Hazards statement for Chicago-area beaches warning swimmers to stay out of Lake Michigan.

Dangerous waves and currents are expected along the shore and swimming conditions could be life threatening for those in the water, the statement said. The warning remains in effect until Thursday morning.

The NWS predicts waves could reach heights of up to 10 feet.

Despite the warning, swimmers and even surfers were spotted in the high waves Wednesday.

Wednesday’s high is forecast to remain in the mid-70s with mostly sunny skies.

The cool and breezy conditions come just one day after the city saw temps near 90 degrees-- one of the hottest days the city has seen this season.

Storms rolled through the Chicago-area Tuesday night, bringing cooler air and temps below 80 degrees.

The cool temps are expected to linger heading into the weekend, when another chance for storms moves in.

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<![CDATA[Have Rahm's Tough Choices Failed?]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:38:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rahm+meeting+0721.jpg

Conventional wisdom says there were two main reasons why Rahm Emanuel won the 2011 Chicago mayoral election with 55 percent of the vote in a crowded field of four candidates: star power, and a promise to fix the city’s chronic budget problems.

In the minds of many voters, those two things went together. As the last few years of the Daley administration were marked by a series of scandals and seemingly little direction in fixing some of the city’s most intractable problems, voters in Chicago were ready for someone to come in, clean a little house, and get things done.
 
And Rahm Emanuel fit the bill. Tough, wisecracking, famous—the man was President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, for crying out loud, and knew how to get things done and who to call on to do it. Who cared if he was a little arrogant, had way too many close friends in the business world and seemed like he was using the mayor’s office as a stepping stone for bigger and better things.
 
We needed someone who was going to tell us the truth, and fix the truly horrible financial mess we had gotten ourselves into.
 
“In most worlds—business, politics, personal—an arrogant person who accomplishes things is not only tolerated but celebrated,” wrote Chicago Tribune editorial columnist Kristen McQueary back in May, referring to Emanuel. “Many of us will take an ass-kicker who gets results over a cautious consensus-builder any day of the week.”
 
Rahm knew all this. That’s why, from the moment he started to run, he kept coming back to one theme over and over: he was the right man to make the “tough choices” we needed to fix our financial mess.
 
"The question in this election is who has the experience, imagination and strength to see a better future for Chicago? And who has the determination to see that vision through the end?" Emanuel said at his campaign kick-off announcement
 
“We need to confront a budget deficit that threatens our future - but not by burdening Chicago families with more taxes they cannot afford, but by reinventing how city government works,” he said in a speech at his inauguration. “We said it's time for tough choices, because denial, in the face of challenge, is no strategy for success.”
 
“The Mayor Outlines the Tough Choices He’s Proposed in New City Budget” proclaimed the headline of a 2012 editorial the mayor wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times.
 
“'We are making tough choices,'' the mayor said as he presented his $6.97 billion 2014 budget to the Chicago City Council.
 
So how’s all that toughness working out for Chicago? Judging from a report in the Chicago Sun-Times, not so well.
 
The Sun-Times reports that three years into his administration, Emanuel has “failed to make a dent in the mountain of debt piled on Chicago taxpayers.”
 
“Chicago’s general obligation debt backed by property taxes now stands at nearly $8 billion or $2,936.19 for each of the city’s 2.7 million residents. Counting ‘overlapping debt,’ the total owed is $28.3 billion.”
 
Earlier this year, the city also suffered yet another drop in it’s credit rating, with Wall Street firm Moody’s citing Chicago’s $32 billion unfunded pension liability is eight times operating revenue and the “highest of any rated U.S. local government.”
 
The bad budget news comes hard on the heels of a scathing critique of the proposed 2015 Chicago Public Schools budget by watchdog group the Civic Federation.
 
“The short-sighted budget does nothing to address the District’s grave fiscal crisis and is balanced only by an accounting maneuver that allows the District to book more than 12 months of revenue into a single fiscal year,” the group said. “This one-time and non-recurring revenue will leave a gap in future budgets, contributing to deficits of over $1.0 billion in FY2016 and FY2017.”
 
The bottom line is, Mayor Emanuel came into office promising to fix the city’s troubled finances, saying when he ran that “the choices we make in the next few years will define Chicago's future for generations.”
 
But today, we’re seemingly no closer to solving those issues than we were three years ago.
 
Throw in a citywide violence crisis, the closing of 50 public schools, continued poverty and joblessness across the city, crumbling infrastructure, ongoing problems with city programs like red light cameras and you have to ask yourself:
 
What, exactly, has all this toughness gotten for Chicago?
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<![CDATA[Simeon Track Coach Charged With Sexual Assault]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:15:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Gerald+Gaddy.jpg

A volunteer coach at a South Side Chicago high school was ordered held on $300,000 bail on Wednesday amid charges he had inappropriate sexual contact with three teenage girls.

Gerald Gaddy, a track and field coach at Simeon Career Academy, was charged Wednesday with aggravated criminal sexual abuse, criminal sexual assault and aggravated battery.

Gaddy, 42, is accused of having inappropriate conduct with girls ages 15, 16 and 17 between February 2013 and June 2014.

Prosecutors allege Gaddy fondled the 16-year-old girl's buttocks on multiple occasions. He also allegedly made comments about her body and being his girlfriend.

He called the 17-year-old into his office numerous times, prosecutors say. In April he allegedly asked her to remove her pants and bend over, then sodomized her.

Prosecutors said he squeezed the 15-year-old's buttocks in his office.

He has since been barred from Chicago Public Schools activities, according to CPS spokesman Joel Hood.

"A volunteer Track and Field coach at Simeon Career Academy High School has been barred from CPS activities while the District continues its investigation into allegations of misconduct," Hood said in a statement.

Parents told NBC 5 they're alarmed by the news.

"My first reaction is being shocked by the situation," one parent who asked to remain nameless said. "That's horrible, honestly. Obviously the first thing you want to do is protect your child. I just don't know what to say, I'm speechless."



Photo Credit: Chicago Police]]>
<![CDATA[Two Teen Girls Wounded in Drive-By Shooting]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 09:00:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/garfield-park-shooting-1.jpg

Two people were shot Tuesday night in a West Garfield Park neighborhood drive-by attack.

A 19-year-old woman and a 15-year-old girl were sitting on a porch with a group of people about 10:15 p.m. in the 3800 block of West Arthington Street when someone fired shots from a passing vehicle, police News Affairs Officer Ronald Gaines said.

Bullets grazed the woman’s leg and the teen’s cheek, Gaines said.

They were taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in stable condition, police said.
 



Photo Credit: Network Video Productions]]>
<![CDATA[Smoke Diverts Chicago-Bound Southwest Plane to Columbus]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 06:13:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/swa-plane-bwi-mdw-1.jpg

A Southwest Airlines flight bound for Chicago's Midway International Airport was diverted to Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday night after the crew received a smoke indication in the forward cargo hold.

Flight 242 originated in Baltimore/Washington.

Southwest officials said the captain declared an emergency and landed safely at Port Columbus International Airport.

The 49 passengers and five crew members excited the plane on evacuation slides. The passengers continued their journey on another plane -- flight 9015 -- which landed at Midway at 1:45 a.m. Wednesday.

The plane used for Flight 242 was taken out of service for inspection.
 



Photo Credit: WCMH]]>
<![CDATA[Rahm Visits Family of Slain 11-Year-Old Girl]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 09:16:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Rahm_shamiya.jpg

Mayor Rahm Emanuel visited with the family of an 11-year-old girl killed by a stray bullet at a friends' slumber party last week as police appeared to be making progress in the case.

Shamiya Adams was killed when the bullet came through the bedroom window of a home in the 3900 block of West Gladys Avenue in the Garfield Park neighborhood.

Emanuel spent time with the girl's family Tuesday night.

"I came here as a parent to tell them that they are in our thoughts and prayers, to be with them, and to make sure that they know the whole city is thinking and praying for them," Emanuel said.

Chicago police said Monday that they had strong leads in the case, but no arrests have been made. Sources told NBC Chicago that investigators were speaking to at least one person of interest, but neither police nor Emanuel would comment on the the case.

"Even if I did, I can't talk about it," Emanuel said.

Area churches and community groups have come together to show support, donating $8,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest in the case.

An event will be held Thursday at Fatso’s Last Stand at 2258 W Chicago Ave. to help raise money for the Shamiya's funeral.

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<![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[Group Helps Epileptics Explore Their Creative Side]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 00:00:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/epilepsy_art.jpg Studio E, a therapeutic art program created by the Epilepsy Foundation of Chicago, is hosting art classes to help epileptics express themselves through their creations.]]> <![CDATA[Niles Leaders Approve Controversial Gun Shop, Range]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 22:36:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/469413157.jpg

The Niles Village Board voted Tuesday to approve a gun shop and firing range over the objections of some residents who feel it is too close to a couple of schools.

Board members voted 4-1 in favor of the Sportsmen’s Club and Firearms Training Academy after the Niles Plan Commission voted earlier this month to recommend approval.

Opponents packed Tuesday's meeting for what's become a divisive issue in the community, presenting a petition with 1,000 signatures against the proposal.

"It seems common sense that one wouldn't place a gun store in a firing range within close proximity of multiple schools," said Ben Greenburg of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs.

The business is planned for the 6100 block of West Howard, close to Nile West High School and New Hope Academy.

Some trustees say the debate over the gun shop spun out of control.

"It all started about children's safety. And then the emails came, and it went from safety to threats," village trustee George Alpogianis said.

Niles Mayor Andrew Przybylo previously told NBC 5 that the facility will mostly be used by police officers, and wants to pass an ordinance to hold people accountable if their guns get into the wrong hands.

"I don't think there's a winner or a loser in this. I trust that the gun shop owner will do the right thing and make sure all of the people who go there and who purchase firearms are qualified to do so," Przybylo said.

Some parents believe the business sends the wrong message because of the recent history of school shootings nationwide, but supporters include retired and current police officers as well as proponents for the Second Amendment.

"We've got 10-12 months of work to do before the facility is open, and throughout that time frame, essentially we'll have various open houses and open our doors to those who have doubts," gun shop owner Myles Cunningham said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]> <![CDATA[Trump Condo Sells for $3.3 Million]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:34:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/trump-sign-061314-1.jpg

It appears the controversy over the Trump sign isn't scaring high rollers away from buying property in the Chicago building.

Crain's reports a 79th-floor condo at Trump International Hotel & Tower sold for $3.35 million, the highest-priced sale in the building this year.

Personal injury lawyer Patrick Salvi and his wife sold the 3,100-square-foot home in an all-cash transaction, receiving $1.2 million more than they paid for it in 2010.

There's still plenty of options remaining inside the building. The penthouse unit is on the market for $32 million.

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<![CDATA[Former Niles West, U of I Player Dies During Practice]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 21:37:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Shawn-afryl.jpg

Campus officials say a football player at Winona State University who recently transferred from Illinois has died while working out with teammates.

Winona State said in a news release that 22-year-old Shawn Afryl died Tuesday during a workout at Maxwell Field on the campus in Winona, Minnesota. Information about his cause of death was not immediately available.

School officials said the 6-foot-3, 310-pound offensive lineman had recently enrolled after his transfer.

Illini coach Tim Beckman said in a statement that his players were saddened to hear of the death of a "great teammate." Winona State coach Tom Sawyer said Afryl had shown maturity and leadership in his short time at the Division II school.

Afryl is a graduate of Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois, in the Chicago suburbs.
 



Photo Credit: www.fightingillini.com]]>
<![CDATA[Bruce Rauner: "I Love Uber"]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:55:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rauner_5_19.jpg

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner has picked a side in the ride-share debate.

Rauner issued a statement Tuesday pledging support for Uber, calling it an "innovative, growing company that provides ride-share services to millions of people across the country and wants to create 425 more jobs right here in Illinois."

Rauner says he would veto a recently-passed bill that regulates ride-share businesses such as Uber and Lyft.

"I love Uber. And we need a state that supports job creation -- not runs it off," Rauner said in the statement.

Rauner urges Gov. Pat Quinn not to sign the bill saying "it sends another signal that Illinois is closed to innovation."

Mara Georges, the spokeswoman for the Illinois Transportation Trade Association, issued her own statement defending the bill, saying it is "simply focused on making sure all Illinoisans have basic consumer protections when they step into a car for hire."

"Customers have the right to know their driver has passed a comprehensive police background check and drug test and carries sufficient insurance in case of an accident," George said.

"Ride-share companies claim they can regulate themselves, but time and time again they have proven that they cannot protect their drivers or passengers. It is unfortunate that Bruce Rauner would side with Silicon Valley multi-billionaires and venture capitalists, rather than Illinois consumers," George added.

The legislation, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Tony Munoz of Chicago, would create two tiers of regulation.

All drivers would need to pass background checks and have commercial liability insurance of at least $350,000. Drivers working more than 36 hours in a two-week period would need to follow stricter rules, similar to taxis. Local municipalities could set rules for "surge pricing" — which allows drivers to hike prices during high demand — for rides dispatched through a smartphone app.

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<![CDATA[Postal Workers Protest Staples in Chicago]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:55:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/219*120/staples+protest+7-20.jpg

Hundreds of members of the American Postal Workers Union protested outside a Staples in Chicago Tuesday in hopes to keep mini-post offices from opening up inside the business.

The group, which included leaders from the Chicago Teachers Union, gathered outside a Staples at Wabash and Washington in Chicago to “turn up the heat” on their “Don’t Buy Staples” campaign.

The protest comes as postal workers claim the stores finished a pilot program allowing for postal counters to open in more than 80 Staples stores nationwide.

“About a week ago, the USPS and Staples attempted to derail the boycott,” Union President Mark Dimondstein said. “They announced the pilot was over, but admitted that Staples clerks would continue to do the work of uniformed postal workers under a program with a different name. We’ve got news for them: our campaign to stand up for living-wage jobs and quality service for our customers isn’t over until we say it’s over.”

It's not the first time workers have protested the center. Nationwide protests were also held earlier this year after news of the pilot program was first announced.

The workers say the pilot program jeopardizes their jobs and the security of the mail, because the retail counters are staffed by Staples employees, not postal workers.

“We’re not falling for that ruse, and neither are the labor and community allies who have joined with us in this fight,” said Dimondstein. “This campaign will continue so long as the USPS tries to replace experienced, uniformed U.S. postal workers who are accountable to the American people with low-wage, high-turnover employees who have little training and who are not qualified to handle the U.S. Mail.”
 

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<![CDATA[Alpana Singh Reveals Details About New Chicago Restaurant]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:39:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/Blogapalooza_14_alpana.jpg

With plans for her upcoming eatery ripening quickly, Alpana Singh has announced some details about her highly anticipated Chicago venue.

Construction is underway at the Michigan Avenue location, located across the street from the Art Institute, Singh told Eater Chicago.

The name of the restaurant is Seven Lions and Singh says it will be an "American clubhouse," featuring "comfortable and approachable" updated American cuisine and a largely American wine list.

She told the foodie site she hopes to open the location later this year or by early next year.

The restaurant will hold a large center bar with a separate dining room, a sidewalk patio and private event space.

Rumors of the restaurant sprouted more than two years ago after the master sommelier announced she was parting ways with Lettuce Entertain You and resigned her post as host of WTTW's popular "Check, Please" program.

The project is in conjunction with Bistronomic owners Matt Fisher and John Ward.



Photo Credit: Leon Serdin]]>
<![CDATA[Paul Vallas Slams Rauner's Tax Plan as "Reckless"]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:26:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Paul+Vallas+1200.jpg

Gov. Pat Quinn's running mate, Paul Vallas, unleashed a passionate rant slamming Bruce Rauner's newly released tax plan as "totally disingenuous if not totally dishonest."

Tearing into Rauner at a press conference Monday, Vallas lamented: "After a 500-day wait, this is what we get — a plan that would put an $8 billion hole (in Illinois' budget). This extreme and reckless proposal doesn't add up, not even close."

Vallas questioned Quinn's Republican rival on his proposal to freeze property taxes, phase out the increase in the state's income tax and impose a sales tax on services like golf memberships and charter flights that he dubbed "non-essential" and said would generate $600 million in revenue. (Quinn, meanwhile, wants to keep the income tax rate at 5 percent to avert a pension-related fiscal crisis amid warnings -- and another downgrade -- by Moody's Investor Services. The rate, originally designed to be temporary, reaps about $8 billion annually.)

His voice rising, the lieutenant governor candidate -- formerly head of Chicago Public Schools and a controversial advocate for education reform -- said Rauner's pitch would decimate the state-wide school system.

"And if you don't think that you can cut $8 billion dollars from discretionary spending and not devastate schools across the state and in the poorest communities -- absolutely, absolutely destroy their schools as they currently exist ... this is even worse than smoke and mirrors," opined Vallas.

Defending his "Bring Back Blueprint," Rauner said Monday: "Unfortunately our government is very inefficient, very wasteful and we’ve got to restructure.”

The Winnetka venture capitalist's tax-and-jobs-growth strategy is polling well among voters but has come under fire for offering scant details on how Illinois would pay for proposed cuts. Per Ward Room's own Mark Anderson: "(L)ike so many Republican budget proposals, Rauner’s plan guts state revenue collection from one set of taxes and expects that miracle economic growth will make up the difference."

And without further ado, here's Paul Vallas:

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<![CDATA[Review: Polar Loop Wearable Device]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:14:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Polar_Loop.jpg

Wearable activity trackers have turned into the latest must-have gadget over the past few years. While specific abilities vary from device to device, all trackers ultimately serve the same purpose: to give you an idea of your daily activity level and motivate you to move more for a healthier life.

Polar, long known for its heart rate monitors, entered the activity tracker market last year with Polar Loop. Like other activity trackers, Polar Loop will log your basic fitness statistics-steps taken, calories burned and hours slept, but also utilizes Polar's heart rate monitor background to enhance its data collection.

Because activity trackers often rely on arm swing to give you credit for movement, some may not recognize exercises where your arms tend to remain still, such as cycling. But when paired with an optional heart rate monitor, Polar Loop notices your elevated heart rate and counts that toward your daily activity goal.

Polar Loop is also waterproof, allowing you to wear it at all times, even if you choose to swim.

I enjoy health and fitness statistics, and in my experience wearing a Polar Loop for the past two months, it's given me a good idea of just how much I do or don't move.

While my regular exercise combined with normal day-to-day movement generally hits my daily activity goal, I spend a fair amount of my day sitting, particularly during the week.

I knew this before wearing a Polar Loop -- after all, I do have a desk job -- but seeing my statistics (available online through Polar Flow and the Polar Flow app for iPhones and Android devices), showed me how infrequently I actually move.

Both the Polar Flow app and Polar Loop notify me when I haven't moved for more than an hour, although I've personally found the app notification more useful as I often don't see my Polar Loop lighting up to remind me to stop sitting.

The device isn't always perfect -- I've gotten credit for over 300 steps while showering, for example -- but nevertheless, it is a useful way to gauge your personal activity trends over time.

While a Polar Loop can't actually force you to move, it has helped motivate me to make more of an effort to get up throughout my day, even if only for a moment. As more and more evidence shows the risks of sedentary lifestyles, I like having a device that reminds me that marathon training alone doesn't counteract eight hours at a desk. I need to move throughout my day, and Polar Loop encourages me to do just that.

The Polar Loop retails for $109.95. You can purchase it online or at any number of local retailers.



Photo Credit: Polarloop.com]]>
<![CDATA[Quinn Signs $1 Billion Road Project Plan]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:56:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/illinois-tollway-generic.jpg

Gov. Pat Quinn signed an approximately $1 billion capital spending plan on Tuesday intended to create jobs and help repair and improve Illinois roads and bridges after a harsh winter.

 
The Chicago Democrat approved the bipartisan legislation that also will provide lawmakers with opportunities to attend popular ribbon-cutting ceremonies in an election year. The plan got overwhelming support in the final days of the legislative session, though some lawmakers were concerned that they didn't have enough time to study where the money would go.
 
Transportation officials said the money will go toward "shovel ready" road projects that are beginning this summer. Quinn estimated that the projects will create some 14,300 jobs. Most of the 210 projects include resurfacing portions of major roadways around Illinois and repairing bridges.
 
"It is imperative for all of us that we make investments to make sure we take good care of these roads and bridges, relieve congestions, get people to their destination as quickly as possible, as safely as possible," he said standing near a downtown Chicago interstate exchange where construction work is ongoing.
 
Some lawmakers supporting the repair program said it was necessary because the $31 billion "Illinois Jobs Now" program that Quinn signed in 2009 is set to run out of road funding sometime this year. But Transportation Department spokeswoman Paris Ervin said that $115 million will be doled out this year for various projects.
 
The winter repair plan will be paid for by selling bonds and paying back the loan with revenue from retired bonds. It was scaled back to gain Republican support amid concerns that the state couldn't afford a higher price tag. Democrats failed to gather votes to extend an income tax increase set to roll back in January, potentially creating a loss of $1.8 billion in revenue.
 
Among the projects are $48 million for replacing the bridge, lighting, surveillance and sign boards on the inbound Interstate 55 in Chicago. Other projects include resurfacing parts of Interstate 57.
 
"After the historic winter we experienced, many of our roads and bridges are in desperate need of attention," Erica Borggren, the acting head of the Illinois Department of Transportation, said in a statement. "This construction program is the shot in the arm that our transportation system and our economy needs."
 
Some lawmakers and a transportation group had proposed paying for road construction with a fuel tax increase, and ending the practice of diverting funds earmarked for road projects to other parts of the budget. That plan was opposed by gas station owners who say the state's fuel tax is already too high.
 
Quinn is seeking a second full term with a challenge from Republican businessman Bruce Rauner.
 


Photo Credit: Brian Fitz Photography]]>
<![CDATA[Crash Victim Was Heading to Work on Day Off]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 18:21:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Vicky-Palacios.jpg

Vicky Palacios wasn't even supposed to work at her job cleaning a factory on Monday but enjoyed the job so much she went in anyway, her daughter said Tuesday.

The 54-year-old Coal City woman and three others were killed in a chain-reaction crash on Interstate 55 near Arsenal Road in Elwood at about 2:30 p.m.

Palacios' husband died years ago and she raised four children and three step-children by herself, according to one of the daughters.

"She was the best person I've ever known, you know, I love her so much and I'm never going to see her again," Nicole Palacios said. "Everyone loved her. She was a very giving woman, very strong willed, outspoken. That's what people liked about her."

Nicole Palacios said her youngest sibling is serving in the United States Marine Corps and was headed to the Chicago area to help with arrangements.

Palacios lived alone with her cat.

Nicole Palacios said her mother will be cremated but exact details weren't complete because the body was still with the coroner.

Illinois State Police said a speeding tractor-trailer entering stalled traffic in a construction zone caused the chain-reaction crash that killed Palacios as well as Ulrike P. Blopleh, 48, of Channahon, and 43-year-old Kimberly K. Britton and her 11-year-old daughter, Piper Britton, both from Urbana.

The truck driver, 51-year-old Francisco Espinal-Quiroz, of Leesburg, Indiana, was arrested early Tuesday and charged with falsifying a log book and willful violation of a log book. He was also cited for failing to reduce speed and held on $1 million bond.

A fifth person, Deividas Mockus, 41, of Darien, was killed in a second crash moments after the first and about three miles to the north. That stretch of I-55 has been the scene of several accidents over the past couple of years.

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<![CDATA[Opinion: Suddenly, Rahm’s Millions May Not Be Enough]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 11:36:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rahm_clinton.jpg
Rahm Emanuel, meet Ras Baraka.
 
For those not following New Jersey politics, Baraka is the political progressive who won the 2014 mayoral election in Newark, the state’s largest city. To win, Baraka beat Shavar Jeffries, who many political observers in Jersey saw as the candidate of the state’s political establishment. Baraka’s victory is seen by many across the country as a significant victory for a progressive candidate in a big city mayoral race.
 
For Chicagoans, the 2014 Newark election may be of some interest. While every election has its own dynamics and, more importantly, its own backstory and political intrigue, a number of key similarities exist between the 2014 Newark race and the upcoming Chicago mayoral election.
 
For one, the Newark mayor's office had for years been occupied by Cory Booker, a major player in national Democratic politics just like Rahm Emanuel.
 
For another, the 2014 election was widely seen as a referendum on Booker’s particular brand of big donor, corporate-friendly politics that dominated Newark during his reign. For many here in Chicago, Mayor Rahm is seen more as “Mayor 1%”, more focused on the welfare of the city’s elite than everyday citizens.
 
As well, Newark’s education system had been gutted by powerful political interests. In 2013, Newark schools superintendent announced plans to consolidate, relocate and re-configure more than one-quarter of the city’s schools, including transferring neighborhood schools to charter school operators. As a result, education issues dominated the 2014 race, helping to define the candidate’s profiles in the minds of many voters.
 
Just like Chicago.
 
So why does what happened in Newark, New Jersey matter to Chicagoans? It’s simple. Boiled down to its essence, the 2014 Newark race represented an important and somewhat unexpected victory for a progressive politician facing big money interests all too eager to paint him a “too radical” for the mayor’s office.
 
Baraka won by gathering together a coalition of old-school neighborhood activists, union supporters, and high name recognition as a community organizer, public school teacher and champion of the dispossessed. He also gained key support from the Working Families Party, who helped propel New York progressive mayor Bill de Blasio to victory.
 
And today, such a pathway to the mayor’s office on the fifth floor of Chicago’s City Hall suddenly doesn't seem like such a long shot as it has in the past.
 
There’s clearly a growing progressive movement taking shape in Chicago, and for the first time in a long time, it’s starting to set its sights specifically on the mayor’s office. Coupled with the current mayor’s abysmal poll numbers, a citywide violence crisis, the closing of 50 public schools, a pension debacle in the making and a mayor seen as out of touch with everyday citizens, and you’ve got a whole lot of Chicagoans ready to find an alternate to the current administration. 
 
Throw in two potentially strong, deeply progressive candidates—Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis and 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti—and you’ve got a significantly different playing field than even a few months ago.
 
Not to mention a newfound sense of optimism among the city’s progressives and activists that is starting to turn from “what if” to “why not now”?
 
In response, it appears Rahm Emanuel is doing the one thing he knows how to do better than anything else: raise money.
 
The Chicago Tribune reports that Emanuel is “fighting sagging Chicago polls with [a] fundraising blitz.” And there’s little doubt Rahm will have the ability to flood the campaign with millions of dollars in donations.
 
But it may not be enough. After all, Baraka’s opponent Jeffries spent as much as three times the amount of his opponent, much of it coming from corporate donors and charter school advocates.
 
Chicago may be seeing for the first time in a long time—at least since the election of Harold Washington in 1983—a real battle between grassroots activism and big-money campaign donations.
 
If I were Rahm, maybe I’d want to ask Ras Baraka how that turned out for him.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Storms Expected After Hot, Humid Day]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:40:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Heat_Generic_Sun_Generic.jpg

It appears Tuesday’s hot temperatures will be a one hit wonder in the Chicago area.

With temps forecast to rise near 91 degrees Tuesday, and humidity levels making the air feel close to 100 degrees, the Chicago area is finally getting a taste of summer heat, but stormy weather and cooler temps are on the way.

Scattered showers and thunderstorms are forecast to develop during the late afternoon and evening hours Tuesday. Some storms could become severe with heavy rain, strong winds and large hail.

Much of northern Illinois is under a slight risk for severe weather Tuesday.

The storms are expected to weaken heading into the overnight hours as cooler temps make their way into the area.

Highs Wednesday will drop into the mid-70s, making for a breezy and less humid day.

Temps are expected to stay in the 70s heading into the weekend as showers and storms return to the forecast.

Tuesday’s temps could make Tuesday one of the hottest days the city has seen this season.

So far, the Chicago area has only seen two other days in the 90s, both of which took place before the summer season began.

The average number of 90-degree days during the summer season is 14. Last year, the city saw 13 days with temps in the 90s.



Photo Credit: NBC10 Philadelphia]]>