<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:54:34 -0500 Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:54:34 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![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[Victim's Fiance Describes Fatal Edgewater Crash]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 22:56:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Frank_Kiley.jpg

The fiance of a pedestrian killed in a crash Wednesday in Edgewater was only feet away from becoming a victim herself.

Frank Kiley, 71, died and multiple others were injured in the crash involving three cars and a CTA bus shortly after 11 a.m. at Sheridan Road and Balmoral Avenue.

Witnesses told NBC 5 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. He died at the scene.

Wilma Deveyra says she didn't know what hit them.

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

Deveyra says she met Kiley a year ago and they considered themselves married because they were blessed in a church.

"I don't know what happened. I didn't know what hit us ... I didn't know what happened," Deveyra said.

Joanna Tesluk's car was destroyed in the crash. She had just gotten inside the vehicle when it happened.

"I was turning on my engine and I said, 'let's get music going and that's what happened. It was horrific, unbelievable,
something I can't even describe," Tesluk said.

Several other people witnessed the horrific crash.

"A man was loading stuff right here from the store as soon as he got out," said Irene Villa. "All the cars just crashed and hit him."

"There was smoke everywhere. I ran out there to go help the guy the guy, but when I got up to him there wasn't much I could do," said Robert Cash, who was working at a nearby pizzeria. "He was underneath the car and his legs were slightly severed."

"I don't even think he knew what hit him," Christine Larsen, another witness, said. "This car just came plowing in."

A CTA spokeswoman said the northbound No. 147 bus was standing at the intersection when it was struck by an auto involved in the multi-vehicle accident. The bus didn't make contact with pedestrians, she said.

Chicago Fire officials said four ambulances responded to the scene. One person was transported in critical condition to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center and three others were taken in fair condition to Weiss Memorial Hospital. Five people refused treatment at the scene.

Witnesses inside the neighboring businesses say the crash sounded like a bomb going off.

"When I heard the accident, the impact, I stand and I saw dust and I saw the guy on the floor," Jim Alhaj 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.

Police were speaking to a person of interest in the case.


<![CDATA[Gay Church Employee Fired Over Engagement]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:22:12 -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 he knows the church is my life," Collette said.

"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 community that was said to be different.

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. Those that serve as Ministers of the Church, including worship ministers, are expected to conform their lives publicly with the teachings of the Church. -- Archdiocese of Chicago Statement.

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 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[Flight Attendant's Teen Daughter Charged With Murder]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:18:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DeCarol-Deloney-Cain.jpg

The 17-year-old 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.

Ashley Barrett 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.

Court records also state that Barrett spoke of robbing and/or killing her mother while in foster care.

Both suspects are being held without bail.

<![CDATA[Group Names "Worst Restaurant Foods"]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:18:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/cheesecake+factory_722.jpg

Working out may not be enough to burn off the calories some of these restaurants are dishing out.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group, has released its annual “Xtreme Eating Awards,” naming some of the highest-calorie dishes in popular restaurants.

CSPI specifically called out The Cheesecake Factory, which took three out of the nine awards, and says the 150-outlet mall fixture could have “easily swept the entire list.”

“[CEO David Overton] may be tiring of the prize, but he’s certainly making sure that The Cheesecake Factory remains the most calorically extreme chain that we’ve seen,” said CSPI dietitian Paige Einstein.

The Cheesecake Factory argues that they have several low-calories options for diners and says their large portions aren't always consumed in one sitting or by one person.

“With more than 200 menu items, The Cheesecake Factory has always been about choices,” the restaurant said in a statement. “Many of our guests come in and want to celebrate and not be concerned with calories. Others want to share their dish – and we love it when guests share – that’s a great sign that our portions are generous – and a large percentage of our guests take home leftovers for lunch the next day.”

The restaurant has also released a “SkinnyLicious Menu” with options under 590 calories.

Other restaurants included on the list were Famous Dave’s, Joe’s Crab Shack, Chevys Fresh Mex, BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, Maggiano’s and Red Robin.

The single unhealthiest meal came from Red Robin Gourmet Burgers. The A.1. Peppercorn burger, bottomless steak fries and Monster Salted Caramel Milkshake, had a total of 3,540 calories.

According to CSPI, the average person would need to walk briskly for a full 12 hours to work off those calories.

CSPI suggests that caloric content of foods in restaurants has increased over the last seven years.

“When we were screening candidates for the first Xtreme Eating awards in 2007, we were shocked to see 1,500-calorie entrées,” a release from the group read. “This year, nearly all of our “winners” hit (or just missed) the 2,000-calorie mark. And a few doozies topped 3,000 calories. You could take half home and still overeat.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, daily calorie consumption varies depending on a person’s gender, age and physical activity level.

The USDA recommends consuming less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids and advises those who consume 2,000 calories per day to consume less than 20 grams of saturated fat.

Nearly every meal on the CSPI’s list has, by that standard, several days’ worth of saturated fats.

CSPI notes that health care reform legislation signed in 2010 could soon require chains with 20 or more outlets to disclose calorie content on menus. The federal regulations for menu labeling have not yet been finalized.

The full list of high-calorie menu items is listed below.

  • Red Robin Gourmet Burgers' A.1. Peppercorn Burger, Bottomless Steak Fries and Monster Salted Caramel Milkshake: 3,540 calories (almost two day's worth), 69 grams of saturated fat, 6,280 milligrams of sodium, 38 teaspoons of sugar.
  • Big "Hook" Up Platter: Joe's Crab Shack: 3,280 calories, 50 grams of saturated fat and 7,610 milligrams of sodium (nearly five days' worth).
  • Cheesecake Factory's Bruleed French Toast: 2,780 calories, 93 grams of saturated fat (almost a full work week's worth), 2,230 milligrams of sodium and 24 teaspoons of sugar.
  • "The Big Slab" of St. Louis-Style Spareribs at Famous Dave's: 2,770 calories, 54 grams of saturated fat, 4,320 milligrams of sodium and 14 teaspoons of sugar.
  • Prime New York Steak Contadina Style at Maggiano's Little Italy: 2,420 calories, 66 grams of saturated fat (3+ days' worth) and 5,620 milligrams of sodium.
  • Farfalle with Chicken and Roasted Garlic at The Cheesecake Factory: 2,410 calories, 63 grams of saturated fat (a three-day load) and 1,370 milligrams of sodium.
  • Signature Deep Dish Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza at BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse: 2,160 calories, 30 grams of saturated fat and 4,680 milligrams (three days' worth) of sodium.
  • Chevys Super Cinco Combo and Chevys Fresh Mex: 1,920 calories, 36 grams of saturated fat, and 3,950 milligrams of sodium.
  • Cheesecake Factory's Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake: 1,500 calories, 43 grams of saturated fat and 21 teaspoons of added sugar.


<![CDATA[Thursday's Forecast: Partly Sunny]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:21:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Andy+Avalos+Updated.jpg
Thursday: Partly sunny, chance of isolated showers & storms, cooler lakefront, 82.
Thursday night: Partly cloudy, 64.
Friday: Partly sunny, chance of showers & storms, 82.
Saturday: Partly sunny, chance of showers & storms, 81.
Sunday: Mostly sunny, 82.
Monday: Mostly sunny, 83.
Tuesday: Partly sunny, 84.
Wednesday: Partly sunny, chance of showers & storms, 82.
<![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[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[SoCal Toddler Dies in Hot Car: Cops]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 22:14:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/toddler-dies-sylmar.jpg

A 3-year-old boy died Wednesday after becoming trapped in a hot car in Sylmar, police said.

Officers were called about 3:30 p.m. to a home in the 14400 block of West Foothill Boulevard, where the child had climbed into a Toyota Camry and was unable to get out, the Los Angeles Police Department said.

The child was taken to a hospital in grave condition, police said. He was later pronounced dead.

Investigators believe the child was playing outside while his parents and 14-year-old brother were napping inside.

It was unclear how the child became locked inside the car. Investigators said the father found him and called 911.

No arrests have been made in connection with the boy's death, police said.

Refresh this page for updates

<![CDATA[Plane Crash in San Diego Kills 1]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 00:37:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Plane-Crash-Kearny-3.jpg

A small plane crashed in the parking lot of a busy San Diego shopping center Wednesday evening, killing one of the two women aboard and wounding the other.

The fixed wing single-engine Mooney M20L crashed in a parking lot between Target and the Costco Business Center off Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa, about a mile from Montgomery Field, around 5:30 p.m. It landed near parked cars but away from main store entrances.

The 52-year-old pilot and her 80-year-old passenger were taken to Sharp Memorial Hospital with major injuries, according to fire officials. The 80-year-old woman suffered serious burns and died at the hospital. The condition of the pilot has not been released.

Two witnesses who may have been trying to rescue the victims were treated for minor burns, fire officials said. One was taken to the hospital, and the other was treated at the scene. The plane did not hit any people in the parking lot when it crashed.

Witness Gregg Smith was leaving work across the street and was only one block away when he saw and heard the aircraft crash.

“I heard the plane coming – it was a different sound – and I knew they didn’t have enough power to make the lift they needed to do,” Smith told NBC 7.

At that point, Smith said he looked up and saw the plane making a turn. “It missed my building probably by about 10 or 15 feet,” he added.

“I heard the distinctive thud of it hitting one of the light poles in the parking lot, and I heard it crash. The next thing I saw was a bunch of flames and black smoke,” Smith continued.

Helicopter pilot Vince Carter was taking off from Montgomery Field at the time of the crash. Carter told NBC 7 he heard the pilot’s distress call and heard her say her power was going out seconds before the crash.

“This is a miracle and testament to her skill as a pilot. I really hope she comes through everything okay. This could have very easily killed a lot of people,” he said. “You could imagine, just shopping at Target, and a plane comes through the roof full of fuel.”

Carter said the area where the aircraft landed is really the only place where the pilot could have gone without causing a lot of damage.

“When we’re flying, we need air going over the wings at a specific speed to generate lift. Once you lose enough air speed, there’s not enough wind going over the wings to generate lift and you don’t fly any more. As you can see, the plane is in a relatively flat position. It didn’t travel extremely far when it hit the ground, so you can assume that it didn’t have a lot of forward momentum going into this,” he said.

“So what probably happened is that in a loss of power and finding a place to put it down, she stalled it out pretty much perfectly in the only spot she possibly could have,” he continued.

"I don’t know what kind of control they had, but they obviously had enough control to bring it down into an area where they were not going to crash into vehicles or buildings,” San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesperson Lee Swanson said.

A small fire sparked upon impact, but firefighters extinguished it quickly, Swanson said.

Witnesses said several heroic bystanders rushed to the aid of the pilot and her passenger right after the crash, pulling the women from the wreckage.

A Costco employee who witnessed the crash told NBC 7 that the person taken to the hospital with minor burns to his hand is another Costco employee.

The Target store was not evacuated and remained open Wednesday evening. A Target employee said fire crews were assessing the building for damage.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is on scene investigating the cause of the crash. The FAA said the aircraft bounced while attempting to land at nearby Montgomery Field but continued westbound and crashed in the Costco parking lot.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will lead the investigation and likely post a preliminary report of the accident within the next week or two. Still, officials said it typically takes the NTSB months to come up with a probable cause for accidents.

Per protocol, neither agency will release the identities of those involved in the aircraft accident.

San Diego Police Department Sgt. Steve Behrendt said the airplane struck a portion of the Target building before landing.

“It did hit the top of the Target building. There is some debris on the roof of the Target and some in the garden area. Then one of the light poles was taken out by the plane,” Behrendt explains.

NBC 7 spoke with a family member of the pilot at UCSD Medical Center Wednesday night who said the survivor of the crash was in stable condition.

According to FAA records, the aircraft is co-owned but registered to San Diego resident William Logan. The family member confirmed William Logan was not aboard the aircraft.

The Montgomery Field radio tower received a distress call from the aircraft right before the crash. The transciption of the call indicates the pilot knew she was in trouble.

“Problem now. I’m not getting any altitude her,” the pilot says.

“27 mike-pappa, full throttle,” the tower answers.

“I’m full throttle,” the pilot replies.

“27 mike-pappa, turn back to the field if you’re able,” the tower says.

“I’m going down,” responds the pilot.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![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[LA Flood Twice as Bad as Feared]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 20:52:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/193*120/ucla+flood+water+main+20140730_082724_resized+%286%29.jpg

More than 20 million gallons of water were lost during Tuesday's massive water main break near UCLA, doubling the initial estimate, officials said.

Crews were still shutting off water to the busted pipe under Sunset Boulevard north of the UCLA campus Wednesday afternoon. Repairs weren't even expected to begin until after the water was shut off, said James B. McDaniel, the senior assistant general manager for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's water system.

"This is a very unfortunate incident," he said during an afternoon press conference. "This is one of our bigger ruptures. It is a major event for us."

Hundreds of vehicles are stranded in flooded parking structures and historic Pauley Pavilion's court shows signs of damage after a water main break Tuesday that sent up to 10 million gallons of water gushing onto Sunset Boulevard and the UCLA campus for more than three hours.

At a mid-day news conference, school officials said they are waiting for areas to "dry out" before they can provide detailed damage estimates. Campus officials characterized the campus as in a "drying phase" Wednesday after the water removal process continued overnight.

Large blower machines were being used in the historic Pauley Pavilion, Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center, JD Morgan Center and John Wooden Center. School officials said Wednesday morning the Pauley Pavilion court showed signs of "expansion and buckling."

The break occurred at the Y-shaped meeting point of a 30-inch pipe installed in 1921 and a 36-inch pipe installed in 1956. Both pipes ruptured and blew open a 25-foot wide, 5-foot deep sinkhole at about 3:30 p.m. in the 10600 block of West Sunset Boulevard, officials said.

"I can't speculate on what caused the leak at this point," said Jeff Bray, of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. "This repair is at the Y where the 30-inch main comes in at an extreme angle to the 36-inch main. The top of the pipe just lifted up and created an opening in the pipe."

As for repairs and detailed damage assessments, crews must wait until after the closure of two leaks discovered along the pipes. The pipes deliver water to the area at a high velocity from Upper Stone Canyon Reservoir, a body of water about eight miles north of Westwood near the Sepulveda Pass.

"We cannot begin repairs until we get the water completely down," Bray said. "We're looking at an extended period of time."

Repairs are likely to cause traffic problems in the heavily traveled area through Thursday because Sunset Boulevard between Veteran Avenue and Hilgard Avenue will be closed for road work.

Two parking structures and six facilities on the UCLA campus were damaged. UCLA had crews working throughout the night to remove water from those buildings.

"Unfortunately, UCLA was the sink for this water source," said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said.

About 900 cars were inside Parking Lot 4 and Parking Lot 7, the two parking structures affected by the flooding. Officials say because the water may be mixed with toxic chemicals such as oil and gas, the water has to be safely removed and cannot just be pumped out into the street. UCLA is working with private companies to remove the water from the structure, Moore said.

Officials say the cars in the structure will not be accessible until Friday.

"A little less than half are totally submerged," said Kelly Schmader, assistant vice chancellor for UCLA.

Motorists traveling in the area should use Santa Monica Boulevard, Wilshire Boulevard or Olympic Boulevard to avoid the road closure.

All UCLA summer camp programming, including recreational activities, were suspended Wednesday, according to campus officials.

NBC4's Samia Khan contributed to this report.

<![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[UCLA Flooding: Before and After]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:06:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/UCLA-pavilion-after.jpg

A water main break Tuesday in Los Angeles' Westwood area sent millions of gallons of water gushing onto the campus of UCLA, flooding parking structures, the famed Pauley Pavilion and other buildings.

These photos reveal the extent of the damage with images taken before and after the affected areas. UCLA officials have yet to establish a damage estimate, but several campus buildings and parking structures were flooded after two water mains burst at their meeting point near the campus.

The break sent an estimated 10 million gallons of water onto Sunset Boulevard and the UCLA campus.

These photos show Sunset Boulevard before and after the water main break. The break shattered pavement and created a large sinkhole from which a geyser of water sprayed for hours. The before photo is from Google Earth, and the after photo is from KNBC-TV's NewsChopper4:

These photos show UCLA's Pauley Pavilion, which suffered severe flooding as a result of the water main break. The court, home to the UCLA Bruins, showed signs of buckling and expansion after it was under about eight inches of water, campus officials said. The before photo was provided by UCLA; the after photo was shot by the Associated Press:

These photos show the plaza outside the Acosta Center, which was flooded after the water main break. The before photo is from Google Earth; the after photo is from Gadi Schwartz.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Body Found at Whiting Beach Identified as Missing Boater]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:19:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/211*120/water+rescue+31st+st.jpg

A body that washed ashore in Whiting, Indiana Monday has been identified as a man who disappeared in a boating accident on Lake Michigan in May.

An autopsy performed Wednesday identified the man as 30-year-old Orest Sopka, of Chicago, according to a release from the Lake County Coroner. His body was discovered just before 9 p.m. Monday at Whiting Beach, officials said.

Sopka, a Chicago trader, went missing after his boat capsized in Lake Michigan on May 31 while heading to Burnham Harbor in Chicago from New Buffalo, Michigan. Three other people were on board at the time of the accident.

A 29-year-old man who was found wrapped in life preservers about 12 hours after the boat sank was the only survivor of the accident. Shortly after he was pulled from the water, the body of 26-year-old Chicago attorney Ashley Haws, who was also wearing a life preserver, was found floating in the lake. An autopsy attributed her death to hypothermia.

The body of a second victim, a woman in her 20s, was found last month about 5 miles east of Navy Pier.

It’s not clear what went horribly wrong when the boat sank last month — but as the boat began taking on water, its four occupants began scrambling to bail it out, according to a source with knowledge of the account the survivor gave to authorities.
The boat’s ship-to-shore radio was not working, and there were no cellphone signals to call for help — the boat was too far from shore.

Flares were fired into the air, but no one saw them.

The engine began to smoke and caught fire, power was lost and the bilge pump failed, according to police. An alarm panel sounded and the engine shut down, according to Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Brian Dykens.

The lone survivor told authorities he distributed life preservers before the boat went down. Everyone on the boat could swim.
Early the next morning, after he had been floating in Lake Michigan for about 12 hours, a fisherman spotted the man who survived.

He was wrapped in five life preservers and had a floating boat bumper tucked under his legs, allowing part of this body to remain above the waterline. He was suffering from hypothermia and, according to the fisherman, was “totally delirious.”

Authorities estimate the boat was several miles offshore when it sank.

The man who survived had more body fat than the other three boaters, a factor that helped him survive in water temperatures colder than 60 degrees, the source said.

The man has since recovered enough to leave the hospital. Parts of his story have changed several times, but hypothermia likely muddled his memories and left the him in a confused state, the source said.

“It seems like he’s not really clear on what happened,” the source said, adding that foul play is not suspected.

Searchers found some debris — seats from the boat, at least one used flare and multiple life preservers — but are unsure where exactly the boat sank.

<![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.

<![CDATA[Chicago Should Name More Than Just a Park After Jane Byrne]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:54:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Jane_Byrne_2.jpg
Let’s face it: Chicago loves to name things after politicians almost as much as it loves to eat hot dogs, root for losing baseball teams and neurotically compare itself to other cities like New York.
So the recent news that the City Council Finance Committee gave approval to rename the park surrounding Chicago’s historic Water Tower as “Jane M. Byrne Plaza” in honor of the former mayor makes a lot of sense.
After all, there’s already 10 major cultural and civic institutions named after the Daley clan in this town. And that’s only because Richie’s been out of office for less than a full mayoral term. Give it a few years or so, and I’m sure we can come up with something else to throw the Daley name on.
After the name Daley, however, the naming of stuff after politicians starts to drop off dramatically.
Oh, sure – there’s a few big things named after the late Harold Washington, like the Harold Washington Library, Harold Washington Cultural Center and the Harold Washington College. That’s because more than almost any other mayor, Washington truly did transform the way politics are run in this town.
But Jane Byrne, Eugene Sawyer or Michael Bilandic—the only other mayors not named Daley or Washington in the past 60 years or so? Hardly a peep for them until now.
I mean, does anyone really know there’s a building on LaSalle Street named after Mike Bilandic?
So, by my estimation, Jane deserves her day in the sun. She was one of the most colorful, passionate and, quite frankly, unpredictable public officials this city has ever had.
Who can forget the moment when she attempted to hold an Easter celebration in the shadow of the Cabrini green housing project that ended in a “disturbing example of police brutality”?
Or her attempt to highlight the challenges of living in poverty in public housing by moving into Cabrini green with her husband, only to give up and move out three weeks later.
Or the time when notorious stunt man “SpiderDan” Dan Goodwin was in danger of being hosed off the side of the John Hancock Center to his possible death before Mayor Byrne had to step in and allow him to climb to the top of the 110-story building.
But if we really wanted to find a good reason to name something public after Byrne, it should be this: there’s perhaps no better example of someone beating the Chicago political machine in retribution than Jane Byrne becoming mayor in the first place.
Four months after being fired by then-mayor Bilandic for publicly opposing a taxi-fare increase that Bilandic supported, Byrne put together a rag-tag team of political operatives and managed to upset the incumbent in the 1979 elections.
It didn't hurt that Bilandic shot himself in the foot repeatedly during a record snowstorm that year. He said parking lots were plowed when anyone could see they weren’t. He told old people that if their cars were towed, they should talk to the judge about it. He denied the CTA was ignoring passing black passengers, even though train stations were being closed in primarily black neighborhoods.
Despite being given very little chance of winning by the city’s political establishment, Byrne managed to paint Bilandic as out of touch, and went on to win with 82 percent of the vote—the largest margin of victory in Chicago history.
It was the biggest “screw you” anyone had managed to pull off up to that point—and maybe since—against the Chicago Machine. And it was done by the city’s first female mayor, who was the very definition of the old Chicago saying “We don't want nobody nobody sent”.
So let’s give Jane a park to be named after her. And maybe a few more things, like a statue of a giant fist punching the Chicago political machine right in the face.
Despite all her problems and numerous political follies, she deserves it for that alone. 
<![CDATA[Why Is This Gardener Suing Chicago?]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 14:34:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/193*120/kcummings.jpg

Kathy Cummings’ front garden stands out on her street.

Her wildflowers include edible herbs and medicinal native plants. She’s an avid gardener who won a mayor’s award in 2004 for her naturalized landscape.

The City of Chicago promotes native gardens in part for their ability to prevent flooding.

So why did Cummings later receive a citation in violation of Chicago’s weed control ordinance?

Cummings and other gardeners are filing lawsuits that claim city employees may not be able to distinguish between natural plant gardens and those unwelcome, unsightly weeds that typically litter empty or vacant lots.

“I can’t get really past the idea that it’s a way for the city to make money,” Cummings said.

Indeed, revenue generated from the weed control ordinance totaled more than $6 million in 2013.

But city leaders recognize there may be some honest mistakes in the ticket writing process.

NBC 5 Investigates takes a deep look at the controversial weed ordinance and why some are calling it “unconstitutional”. The investigation airs Thursday on NBC 5 at 10pm.

<![CDATA[Opinion: Latest Council Move on Campaign Finance a Disgrace]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 17:13:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/chicago+city+hall.jpg

A lot of people—including members of the Chicago City Council and some political reporters about town—would have you believe that today’s move in City Council to return the responsibility for investigating aldermanic campaign finance violations to the Chicago Board of Ethics is nothing more than a power struggle between aldermen and Faisal Khan, the city’s Legislative Inspector General. 

It’s not. But it is an embarrassment and a disgrace, and one more indication that the Chicago City Council has absolutely no interest in real reform or in even playing by the minimum rules necessary for transparent and effective government.
Let’s review. For years, the responsibility for investigating campaign finance violations committed by sitting City Council members fell to the Chicago Board of Ethics. As part of that responsibility, the Board regularly reviewed campaign finance disclosure reports filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections. It then investigated violations it found, and published an annual report detailing allegations and resolutions.
But in 2009, the Board of Ethics stopped publicly reporting on it’s activities, so no ability currently exists for the public to determine how many aldermanic campaign finance investigations by the Board have happened since then. The Board has said it doesn't have the resources to do the job properly, and since it stopped, a backlog of cases has built up, unresolved.
As part of an overhaul of the city’s ethics laws initiated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel after he came into office, in 2012 the job of campaign finance violations was given to the Office of Legislative Inspector general, headed up by Khan. However, the new rules only allows the OLIG to investigate campaign finance violations if someone filed a formal complaint with the Inspector’s office.
In other words, the OLIG has to sit and wait for someone to drop a dime on a sitting alderman, and then it can only investigate the initial allegations before turning it back over to the Board of Ethics for further resolution.
So, to sum up: before today’s Council action, a backlog of unresolved campaign finance violations has been sitting unattended for years, and the office currently responsible for campaign finance violations could neither look at the old cases or proactively review campaign finance disclosure forms for new violations.
Given the Chicago City Council’s reputation for corruption, does that sound like an effective system for ferreting out campaign finance wrongdoing?
Realizing that there was a gaping hole in the city’s ethics rules surrounding campaign finance, the Mayor’s Council floor leader, Ald. Patrick O’Connor (40th) came up with a solution: Let’s give the responsibility back to the office that couldn’t handle it before—the Board of Ethics.
As a result, the Council voted 41-6 today to accept O’Connor’s solution. There’s only one problem: the Board doesn’t want the job:
“The Office of Legislative Inspector general has the authority to investigate only matters in which it has received signed and sworn complaints,” [Board of Ethics Chairman Stephen] Beard wrote in March 7 letter to the mayor and aldermen. “Many years of investigating campaign contribution matters have taught us that property enforcing those laws is a pro-active business — it requires that investigators be able to comb through contribution and other government records and then initiate investigations, not sit and wait for such complaints to come in.”
In the days and weeks leading up to today’s move, some alderman have been painting the issue in the press as little more than a power struggle with alderman on one side and the OLIG on the other. The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that many aldermen are “furious”  at Kahn, believing he overstepped his boundaries in asking for two years’ worth of time sheets for their full- and part-time City Council employees, along with any other attempts by Khan to do his job:
They are equally upset about Khan’s decision to go public about prior investigations of aldermen they consider “penny ante” and about the legislative IG’s decision to let his chief of staff take a 10-week leave of absence to work on a legislative campaign. 
“He came in with one attitude and, now that he’s in the job, he has changed faces,” Budget Committee Chairman Carrie Austin (34th) said. “The question that I asked when we hired him was, ‘Are you gonna be like [city Inspector General Joe] Ferguson with the, ‘I got you [mentality]?’ Thus far, that’s what he’s been. . . .  He thinks he has [authority] over any and everything and listens at nothing.”
It’s also very convenient that two alderman—O’Connor and Joe Moore (49th)—took to the pages of the Chicago Tribune this morning to declare the Council is a paragon of reform and virtue, without ever mentioning the campaign finance violations issue even once.
Elsewhere, however, O’Conner told WLS-89 how he really feels about the problem:
“This is a fake issue,” O’Connor responded. “This is only about people who have contributed to a campaign account who have over-contributed or it shouldn’t have been contributed because they’re in a category that doesn’t allow them to contribute.”
In other words, the very reasons why someone would want to investigate such violations in the first place. 
The truth is, it’s time for the Council to stop pussyfooting around and looking for scapegoats to blame it’s own cowardice on. By failing to authorize a robust, proactive mechanism to investigate campaign finance violations, the Council is sending a very clear message about it how views the matter at all.
And that message is: how dare anyone try and find out what we’re doing behind the scenes?
<![CDATA[Aldermen OK Phone Tax Hike]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 17:58:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/160015060.jpg

Without debate, the Chicago City Council on Wednesday approved a 56 percent increase in the monthly surcharge tacked on to telephone bills.

Starting Sept. 1, every cell phone and landline in Chicago will face the increased tax, rising from $2.50 a month to $3.90.

Taxes on prepaid phones will also rise from 7 to 9 percent.

Ald. Ed Burke (14th) called it a "wise and appropriate move."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago's aldermen said the money will be used to fund the city's high-tech 911 emergency center and to help shore up pension funding.

The tax will raise $10 million this year and $50 million in 2015.

But many residents are sick of one more increased tax.

"I'm kinda used to taxes rising, I mean Chicago is pretty good at that, America is pretty good at that. What can you do?" Chicago resident Adonnis Williams said.

Lawmakers implemented the phone tax as an alternative to increasing property taxes in the city. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Activists Host "Die-In" to Protest Boeing]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 11:40:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/pro-palestine-die-in-1.jpg

Pro-Palestinian supporters on Wednesday "died" at City Hall to protest Boeing's involvement in the ongoing crisis in the Gaza Strip and demanded the aircraft maker be banned from Chicago's Air & Water Show.

Chicago-based Boeing is a major sponsor of the annual lakefront spectacle, scheduled to run this year on Aug. 16 and 17.

Boeing creates F-15 fighter jets, Apache helicopters, Hellfire missiles and other weapons that Israel has purchased from the United States government and is using to target Palestinians in Gaza as that country's military forces continue their push-back on Hamas militants. The U.S., Israel and the European Union all consider Hamas a terrorist organization. The United Nations does not.

More than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed since fighting in the Gaza Strip began on July 8. Palestinians say Israel is randomly deploying a wide array of modern weaponry against Gaza's 1.7 million people, inflicting a heavy civilian death toll and destroying large amounts of property there.

Boeing officials said they have no comment to Wednesday's protest.

Photo Credit: Susan Carlson]]>
<![CDATA[Plane Cleared for Smoke in NYC ]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 17:34:53 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/lga+plane+evac+july+30.jpg

A plane leaving LaGuardia Airport returned shortly after takeoff and was evacuated after the pilot reported smoke in the cockpit, officials say. 

Envoy Air 3340, headed to Knoxville, Tennessee, turned around and made an emergency landing on Runway 22 at about 3:20 p.m., according to the FAA.

The passengers were escorted from the Embraer 145 and bused to the terminal.

The runway was closed briefly as officials responded. 

None of the 44 passengers or three crew members were injured, officials say. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[10 Incredible Images of the UCLA Flood]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 09:40:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/edt-AP731937757829_2.jpg

UCLA's campus became a swimming pool Tuesday after a water main break spilled up to 10 million gallons of water into roads, buildings and parking garages in the area.

Students posted photos and video to social media sites showing chest-high water, flooded cars and water cascading down stairs.

"I was knee-deep in water, I had to take my shoes off even though they still got soaked," student Aaliyah Ricks told NBCLA. "I almost slipped a couple of times."

Check out the most incredible photos of the gyser that punched a 15-foot hole into a street and caused subsequent flooding.


Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Mystery of Ship Buried Under World Trade Center Revealed ]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:08:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/191*120/ground+zero+buried+ship2.jpg

Remnants of an 18th-century ship found buried in soil 20 feet under the World Trade Center site four years ago have been traced to Colonial-Era Philadelphia, according to a new study.

The 32-foot piece of the vessel was found in July 2010 as bulldozers excavated a parking garage for the future building. At the time, historians said the ship likely dated back to the 1700s, and that it was defunct by the time lower Manhattan's western shoreline covered it up around 1818.

But the mystery of its origins persisted -- until now.

Scientists at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory analyzed the skeletal remains of the ship using dendrochronology, which relies on tree rings to determine dates and chronological order.

In a study published in the journal Tree Ring Research, the scientists say they traced the white oak used in the ship's frame to an old growth forest in the Philadelphia era. The article says the trees were probably cut around 1773, shortly before the Revolutionary War.

Wood sampled from Independence Hall in Philadelphia 20 years ago had growth rings that matched those from the World Trade Center ship, suggesting the wood used in both constructions came from the same area.

Scientists say they believe the ship is a Hudson River Sloop, designed by the Dutch to carry passengers and cargo over shallow, rocky water. The article says it was likely built in Philadelphia, a shipbuilding hub during the Colonial era, and used for 20 to 30 years before sailing to what would become its final stop in lower Manhattan.

Workers and archaeologists had also found a 100-pound anchor in the same area as the ship, but it wasn't clear at the time if it belonged to the ship.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Officials Seek Victims of Man Charged With Sexual Exploitation]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 13:25:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/jason+wiese+mug.jpg

Police are searching for victims of a Wisconsin man charged with sexual exploitation of a child.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office Cybercrimes Unit launched an online child exploitation investigation last year when they discovered 28-year-old Jason Wiese had been communicating with someone he believed was a 14-year-old girl.

Officials said Wiese began “grooming” the girl by sending numerous lewd images of himself and requesting similar images in return from the girl. Police also allege he had numerous sexually explicit conversations with the girl via Internet chat.

They said he frequently used the Paltalk chat application, which allows people to communicate via text and webcam transmission in chat rooms or through private messages.

According to authorities, Wiese used the username “jasonweasle” and would frequent the “teens only” section of the app.

Wiese, of the 200 block of 3rd Street in Melrose, Wisconsin, was indicted July 23 for three felony counts of grooming, or preparing someone with the goal of sexual abuse, and two misdemeanor counts of sexual exploitation of a child.

During an interview, police allege Wiese admitted to communicating “with others online from Illinois” and indicated he has “been with a few girls” from Illinois.

Wiese is scheduled to appear for arraignment at 9 a.m. on Aug. 6.

Police are asking anyone who thinks Wiese as someone who has communicated with or solicited their child to contact Detective Chris Covelli with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Cybercrimes Unit at 847-377-4145.

Photo Credit: Lake County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Hayes Likely Won't Sign with Blackhawks]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:55:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/177*120/102421934.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks have plenty of talented prospects in their minor league system, but if things don’t take a dramatic turn in the next three weeks or so, they could end up losing one of them to free agency.

That’s because Kevin Hayes, who was a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award in the 2013-14 season at Boston College, is likely to opt not to sign a contract with the Blackhawks before August 15. If he doesn’t sign a deal, he would become a free agent, and the Blackhawks would be awarded a second round pick as compensation for his departure.

Here’s what Robert Murray, Hayes’ agent, had to say to ESPN Chicago’s Scott Powers about the situation:

“We’re likely going to wait until August 16 and see where things are at that point. It’s absolutely nothing against the Blackhawks. We just feel this gives Kevin some options….After his college career, he had a chance to step back and look at everything.”

The Blackhawks drafted Hayes in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, and since then, he has become one of the top collegiate players in the country. His senior season was especially epic, with 27 goals and 38 assists to his credit as he racked up the second-most points of any player in the nation. Despite that success, Hayes seems content to explore the market instead of staying on with Chicago.

There are several ways that Hawks fans can look at Hayes’ decision. The first is that he is eager to prove himself at the NHL level, and so he’s going to look for an opportunity to jump to a team like the Florida Panthers (where his brother Jimmy plays after being traded there by the Blackhawks in November 2013) or the Nashville Predators.

A more cynical approach would be to say that Hayes doesn’t seem to think that he should have to pay his dues in the minors before getting to the NHL, and his impatience is leading him to a selfish decision. Yet another option is that Hayes is opting to leave the Hawks because of the way they treated his brother, not giving him many chances with the big club before shipping him off.

Whichever way fans tend to look at this situation, there is one thing for certain: unless a miracle happens in the next few weeks, Hayes won’t be donning a Blackhawks uniform when he makes his NHL debut, and that would be a rare miss for a team that’s been churning out quality youngsters for a few years now.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hawks Headlines: Shaw's Season Under the Microscope]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:54:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/shaw_4-23.jpg

In this midweek edition of Hawks Headlines, we examine Andrew Shaw’s 2013-14 season with the Chicago Blackhawks, what Marian Hossa brought to the party this season, and a Blackhawks prospect that will be leaving the team to play overseas next year.

-If you’re interested in seeing the Blackhawks hit United Center ice in preseason action, you’ll get your chance to buy tickets to do so beginning on Monday morning at 10 a.m. [Blackhawks.com]

-We continue with an Andrew Shaw doubleheader, as Tracey Myers writes about how the forward’s blue collar work ethic has translated into NHL success. [CSN Chicago]

-We also have Shaw’s report card from the SCH crew to dissect. [Second City Hockey]

-In the latest installment of the site’s “Exit Interviews” series, McClure and the gang at Real Fans Program examine Marian Hossa’s 2013-14 season. [Committed Indian]

-Maxim Shalunov, who was a fourth round pick of the Blackhawks in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, has signed a two-year deal with the KHL’s Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg. [Pro Hockey Talk]

-Michael Frolik, who was an instrumental part of the Blackhawks’ elite penalty killing unit in 2013, has signed a one-year contract extension with the Winnipeg Jets. [Chicago Tribune]

-Justin Fontaine, who was a thorn in the side of the Blackhawks during the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, has signed a two-year extension with the Minnesota Wild. [ESPN]

-Finally, Jake Gardiner ended up re-signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs on a five-year contract to avoid salary arbitration. [NHL.com]

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Most Important Bears: Jared Allen]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 14:53:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/459727065.jpg

With Julius Peppers on the decline and due a massive amount of money in 2014, the Chicago Bears were in desperate need of an answer at the defensive end position. The fact that their defense in 2013 was one of the worst in team history only added to the urgency, and GM Phil Emery went into the offseason looking to revamp a moribund team that had lost its identity in the first year of the post-Lovie Smith era.

There were several additions that could certainly make an impact on the team, including defensive end Lamarr Houston, defensive tackles Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson, and cornerback Kyle Fuller, but while all of those players have potential, none of them possess the game-changing abilities of Jared Allen, who the Bears brought over from the Minnesota Vikings in free agency.

The four-year, $32 million deal that Allen signed with the Bears was a slight surprise for the team, considering the salary cap woes that had hindered their ability to add much to the equation in 2013 when injuries ravaged the club. Even with that as the back drop however, adding Allen to the mix means a lot more than just guaranteeing money to a 32-year old player with 11 years in the NFL under his belt and a slew of sacks to his name: it means fundamentally altering the approach of the entire front seven that the Bears put on the field.

When Peppers first came to the Bears, he was the type of explosive pass rusher they needed, drawing double teams consistently and creating pressure on the quarterback that was such a key component to the success of the club’s Tampa-2 defense. Over the years however, his impact on things dwindled considerably, and by the time the 2013 season ended, he was routinely being beaten in one-on-one situations, and the extra pressure that put on the safeties and cornerbacks to hold their coverages longer meant that the Bears’ defense was torched consistently.

With Allen added to the mix, the Bears aren’t going to have that problem. With 128.5 career sacks and 29 forced fumbles, Allen is the kind of guy who is going to wreak havoc in the backfield, and that’s exactly what the Bears need him to do. With new safeties and a couple of younger players like Fuller and Jon Bostic that are going to need to go through a bit of an adjustment period, it’s going to help considerably to have a player that is putting pressure on an offense, and Allen certainly fits the bill.

In the early days of training camp, the Bears are already using Allen to full advantage. Not only is he giving a stern test to both Jermon Bushrod, one of the team’s biggest free agent acquisitions before the 2013 season, and Matt Slauson, who is coming off of offseason shoulder surgery, but he is also giving the team a formidable combination with Houston when the duo is lined up next to each other. In nickel packages, Allen and Houston make for an imposing matchup problem, and having Willie Young on the other side of the line only complicates that situation for an offensive line.

Adding Allen into the fold has given Mel Tucker the kind of tool that he can use as a stepping stone to build a much more dynamic defense. Tasked with resuscitating a pass rush that finished in dead last in the NFL in sacks last year definitely in the picture, Allen is going to need to pull together all of his raw skill and veteran ingenuity to help this team go, and if he does, things are definitely going to take on a familiar hue for fans who are used to seeing the Bears’ defense run roughshod over opponents.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Long Cleared to Return from Viral Infection ]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:47:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/long162441404.jpg

The Chicago Bears continued to have some scares on the injury front during Wednesday’s practice in Bourbonnais, but they finally began to get some good news as well.

Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who missed Monday’s practice with a sore foot, was back on the field after the team’s off-day Tuesday. Right guard Kyle Long still wasn’t on the field with his teammates Wednesday as he continues to deal with a viral infection, but according to head coach Marc Trestman, he’s been cleared to begin conditioning work and could return to practice soon.

Finally, Tim Jennings also was on the field for some work on Wednesday as he continues to recover from a quad injury that has cost him several early practices in training camp.

The Bears did get some bad health news on one player however, as back-up offensive lineman Eben Britton was carted off the field after suffering an injury in a one-on-one drill against Jeremiah Ratliff. The injury isn’t believed to be serious, with Trestman saying that Britton is day-to-day with a pulled hamstring.

Wide receiver Terrance Tolliver is also still out of practice for the time being with a toe injury, and safeties Chris Conte and Craig Steltz remain out for the Bears.

Obviously the biggest news of the day for the Bears is that Long is close to returning, but it’s likely too late for him to play in the team’s first preseason game on August 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field. While conditioning work the next few days will get him closer to the field, the team only has six practices remaining before that tilt, and it wouldn’t seem prudent for Trestman to rush Long back for a game that he would only play for the first few series with the first-teamers.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[CA Has 1st Openly Gay Governor - For Part of Day]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 16:39:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/toni+atkins+swearing+in.jpg

For eight or nine hours on Wednesday, California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins will be acting as the state's top chief executive— the first openly gay governor in state history.

That's because this week, the three above her on the state org chart are not in town.

Gov. Jerry Brown is on a trade mission in Mexico this week. As the Washington Post noted, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom filled in for a bit, but is on the East Coast for a Special Olympics event. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg then took over for a while, but he had plans to be in Chicago on Wednesday.

"I feel so grateful," Atkins said in an email on Wednesday forwarded by her spokesman. "I wish my parents could see this. Now I know that may sound hokey to many. But honestly, this is what is going through my mind. If Governor Brown wants a few more days away I'm here for him!"

Atkins spokesman Will Shuck confirmed Atkins will "hold the role of acting governor for approximately one business day, ending this evening on the return of governor." 

Atkins, D-San Diego, is the first openly lesbian leader of either California chamber, succeeding the first openly gay Assembly speaker, John Pérez, a Democrat from Los Angeles.

She shared on her Facebook page that filling in is nothing new: during her time on the San Diego city council, the now 51-year-old Atkins served as acting mayor after other city officials stepped down. She was the first lesbian to hold that position, too.

But Atkins was not focusing on making history due to her sexual orientation on Wednesday. She took the opportunity to highlight her roots -- growing up "in poverty in Virginia" -- and her journey to becoming acting governor for a day.

Atkins, who has focused on funding state universities and advocating for victims of violence and abuse during her time at the Capitol, had a full calendar ahead of her.

But the first act, she tweeted out, was to make sure the temporary first dogs of California - Haley and Joey -  got their morning walk. She shares her pooches with wife, Jennifer LeSar, in the South Park/Golden Hill community of San Diego.


Photo Credit: CA State Assembly]]>
<![CDATA[Council Approves Renaming Water Tower Plaza for Byrne]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:01:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Jane_Byrne_2.jpg

Chicago's City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved renaming the plaza next to the old Water Tower for former Mayor Jane Byrne.

Though Byrne served as Chicago mayor from 1979 to 1983, no city parks or buildings bear her name.

"If it wasn't for that one movie called 'The Blues Brothers,' we probably wouldn't be where we are today," Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) said.

"I was shocked to realize, in 77 distinct communities, not a single neighborhood seems to be named for a woman, but no less than 35 are named for men," Ald. Ed Burke (14th) said.

As mayor, Byrne lived across the street, and the tower often was a symbol of hope and inspiration for her.

Byrne's family also finds it fitting to see one of her favorite projects, the Children's Fountain, moved from Lincoln Park as part of the Mayor Jane Byrne Plaza.

"We've developed things across this city today because of things she set in motion, and this is long overdue," Fioretti said earlier this week.

The former mayor's daughter says Byrne, who is now 80 years old, is delighted with the plan and is recovering well from a stroke last year.

<![CDATA[Illinois State Police Prepare For Weekend Crackdown]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:12:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/state+cops+wojo.jpg

Beginning at midnight on Friday, the Illinois State Police joins 15 other states to step up enforcement on commercial vehicles as part of a "massive public safety initiative" to help reduce traffic fatalities and prevent criminal activity.

Police throughout Illinois will saturate areas along I-90/94 to target speeding violations, DUI, seatbelts, distracted driving, compliance laws, and illegal criminal and drug activity. 

“Our collective efforts to ensure that this stretch of I-90/94 is safe throughout this four day saturation period will require the resources and dedication of our troopers, investigators and inspectors,” ISP Operations Colonel Michael Zerbonia said. “We are committed to supporting this multi-jurisdictional highway enforcement effort on behalf of Illinois to enhance road safety and public awareness."

As part of the I-90/94 Challenge, dedicated officers plan to conduct commercial motor vehicle safety inspections, while state police truck inspectors check for mechanical deficiencies, unlicensed drivers, logbook violations, overweight trucks and trailers and CMV out of service violations.

Other states with access to the corridor will do the same. The crackdown lasts through Aug. 4.

In the last year, police conducted more than 88,000 commercial motor vehicle inspections at the state level.

Photo Credit: Charlie Wojciechowski/NBCChicago.com]]>
<![CDATA[Man Discovers Dad's Killer Coaching Youth Baseball]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 06:40:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Joey_John_Matthews-2.jpeg

A Chicago man is seeking answers after learning that one of the men who beat his father to death in 1988 was coaching youth baseball in his neighborhood.

Joey Mathews, of Hegewisch, 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 did not do a proper background check and tried to brush the matter under the rug when he brought it up.

He says both he and his mother sent emails to Hegewisch baseball officials asking that Chavez be removed, but was told he's a good coach who didn't compromise the safety of the children.

"These kids are learning life lessons from a murderer," Mathews said.

Chavez, who served 11 years in jail, was fired after Mathews said he approached national league officials.

"One of things you did when he became an adult was kill a guy with a baseball bat. Now he wants to coach baseball? It's absolutely insane," Mathews said.

Mathews is seeking the dismissal of the league's five board members, and for the local and national Babe Ruth bylaws to be changed so it doesn't happen again.

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

The league will host a meeting Wednesday evening in Hegewisch to address the matter which Mathews says has opened up old wounds for his mother.

"No one should have to live through this twice," Mathews said.

Chavez and league officials did not return requests for comment.

<![CDATA[UCLA Flooded After Water Main Break]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:52:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/224*120/UCLA+flood+july+29+gadi.JPG

Crews were working through the night to repair a massive water main break that sent up to 10 million gallons of water gushing for nearly four hours onto Sunset Boulevard and the University of California, Los Angeles campus Tuesday afternoon.

A 93-year-old, 30-inch diameter water main ruptured and blew open a 15-foot sinkhole about 3:30 p.m. in the 10600 block of West Sunset Boulevard, officials said. The cause of the break was being investigated.

"Unfortunately, UCLA was the sink for this water source," said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.

The gusher stranded cars, a bus and drivers in several feet of swiftly rising water and mud. While there were no injuries, a Los Angeles Fire Department swift-water team rescued five people who were stranded in the flooding, including one who was swept under his car.

"They were able to keep his head above water and be able get him out," LA Fire Capt. Jaime Moore said.

Officials said Sunset Boulevard near the campus would remain closed between Veteran and Beverly Glen all of Wednesday.

"There's almost no chance that any portion of Sunset Boulevard around UCLA will be open," said Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz, during an evening news conference Tuesday. "Do what you can to avoid it. Find some other route."

Officials said 10 million gallons of water was lost in the gusher, equivalent to about 200,000 baths, according to the US Geological Survey. The utility serves more than 500 million gallons a day to its customers throughout LA.

Water flow through the pipe when it was in proper working order was about 75,000 gallons per minute, LADWP officials said.

The riveted-steel water main carries water to the area from the Upper Stone Canyon Reservoir.

Getting the water shut off completely took approximately three and half hours.

"We were just scrambling, we were trying to get our crews here. It's not the easiest place to get to at rush hour," said Jim McDaniel, the senior assistant general manager for the LADWP's Water System.

Most of the damages Tuesday occurred at UCLA.

Two parking structures and two buildings were damaged, including UCLA's recently renovated Pauley Pavilion, the site for UCLA men's and women's basketball, volleyball and women's gymnastics. Water covered the basketball court. The John Wooden recreation center was also damaged.

Hundreds of people were stranded Tuesday night, unable to access their cars trapped in the damaged parking structures. Firefighters searched 200 cars and deployed two swift water rescue teams looking for trapped motorists. Cars on the lower level of Parking Lot 7 were submerged in three-and-a-half feet of water.

Mud and water also covered the university's Drake Stadium -- a track-and-field facility -- along with the nearby intramural athletic field.

UCLA officials were expected to assess the total damages after they finish pumping water out of the buildings, Block said.

"We have a lot of damage assessment to do in the next couple of days but, we’ll do it and we're Bruins and we’ll get back on our feet," UCLA representative Tod Tamberg said.

Even as firefighters urged people to stay away from the area on Tuesday, the spectacle drew students, attending fall orientation, to the water. Some skimboarded and swam in it. Two students sat in water up to their chests on a stairwell as if it was a hot tub.

Water cascaded down steps into an underground parking structure and pooled as high as five feet.

Students trudged through knee-deep water as they walked across campus.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is out of state on vacation, said he was "closely monitoring the situation" and in contact with DWP, police and fire officials, along with UCLA, "to make sure we are leading a closely coordinated response."

Water service was briefly interrupted for some residents near the break, but it was restored quickly, DWP officials said.

The flood comes in the wake of a statewide ban on public water waste as California officials approved fines of up to $500 a day for violators earlier this month.

Jane Yamamoto contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Gadi Schwartz]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA's Pauley Pavilion Court May Have to Be Replaced: Officials]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:40:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/215*120/ucla+pauley+pavilion+court+water+flood.jpg

The court of the historic Pauley Pavilion at the University of California, Los Angeles may have to be replaced as a result of flooding to the campus, athletic department officials confirmed Wednesday afternoon.

When asked about replacing the court, Guerrero said, "that's the course of action that we're looking for. No questions about it."

Guerrero said the upcoming Bruin basketball season will not be affected by the recent damage.

Ten million gallons of water gushed onto Sunset Boulevard and the UCLA campus Tuesday afternoon, causing the wood floor to buckle - just two years after the indoor arena underwent a multi-million dollar renovation.

"The court is showing signs of buckling and expansion," Kelly Schmader, assistant vice chancellor for UCLA, said Wednesday morning. "Whether we'll be able to get that saved, I don't know."

The break occurred at the Y-shaped meeting point of a 30-inch pipe installed in 1921 and a 36-inch pipe installed in 1956. Both pipes ruptured and blew open a 20-foot wide, 10-foot deep sinkhole in the 10600 block of West Sunset Boulevard, officials said.

Water gushed at a rate of 75,000 gallons a minute, damaging UCLA parking structures, buildings and flooding parts of campus. About eight inches of water covered the famed Pauley Pavilion court at one point, but crews had removed most of the water by Wednesday morning.

Ankle-deep water could be seen covering the court’s wooden floorboards Tuesday night. Crews were drying the court Wednesday morning and officials planned to have a better damage estimate later in the day.

"Unfortunately, Pauley Pavilion took quite a bit of water," Chancellor Gene Block said. "It's painful."

The locker rooms also sustained significant flooding, according to the school's athletic department. Water also entered Wooden Center, which houses recreation facilities, and the J.D. Morgan Center, which houses athletic staff and administration offices and UCLA's Athletic Hall of Fame.

Pauley Pavilion opened 49 years ago and is home to many of UCLA’s athletic teams, including the men’s and women’s basketball teams, men’s and women’s volleyball teams and women’s gymnastics. The arena recently underwent a two-year, $136-million dollar renovation and opened the renovated facility in November 2012.

"I'm just wondering how UCLA is going to pay for it, I mean, Pauley looked in really bad shape and they just remodeled it," UCLA student Peter Nauka said.

It is unclear how the flooding will affect the upcoming schedule. The Teen Choice Awards are scheduled for Aug. 10 and the US Volleyball Cup Aug. 16.

Pauley Pavilion can seat approximately 13,800 people.

NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd and Gadi Schwartz contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: FirstIn]]>
<![CDATA[Rahm Beats Karen Lewis in Latest Mayoral Poll]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 01:54:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Lewis_rahm.jpg

A new poll shows Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel with a 12-point lead over Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis in a potential matchup between the two rivals.

The poll, obtained by Crain's Chicago Business from San Francisco-based pollster David Binder Research, surveyed 600 likely Chicago voters July 24-27.

The results showed Emanuel would beat Lewis 45-33 in a head-to-head matchup.

The poll showed nearly 1 in 4 undecided voters and a virtual tie between the two in the African-American and Latino communities.

The results contradict a We Ask America poll earlier this month that Lewis would beat Emanuel by 9 percentage points in a head-to-head contest if the mayoral election were held now.

Lewis is expected to make a final decision in August about whether she will challenge Emanuel. The Chicago mayoral election takes place February 2015.