Saying goodbye after 12 years

It is with a heavy heart that I offer my farewell to The Chicago Reporter. After 12 years with the Reporter, having served as a reporter, then senior editor, and finally editor and publisher, I am leaving this esteemed news organization to become a senior investigator with the Better Government Association. It has been a true honor to have served as the Reporter’s leader for nearly four years. I feel privileged to have held the publisher title. But I could no longer resist the lure of my true passion: the day-to-day work of investigative and computer-assisted reporting in the public’s interest.

Most young victims killed inside

The news: In July, the Chicago City Council approved a stricter curfew requiring unsupervised minors aged 12 and younger to be in their homes by 8:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and by 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Behind the news: A Chicago Reporter analysis of homicide data shows that the new curfew, even if it had been implemented, would not have protected most of the 53 homicide victims who were aged 12 or younger and killed between Jan. 1, 2008, and Aug. 7, 2011, when Arianna Gibson, 6, was killed by gunfire inside the living room of her grandmother’s Englewood home. Just two of the 53 victims were outdoors and violating curfew when they were killed, according to the Reporter’s analysis.

Reporter news: March/April 2011

The Chicago Reporter is partnering with the Chicago Community Trust and Community Media Workshop this year to provide a burst of local coverage by, for and about underserved communities on Chicago’s South and West sides. In April, through its Community News Matters initiative, the Trust will award a series of $2,000 and $10,000 local reporting awards to fund original reporting and fact-based analysis in 2011. The funded work will focus on how important issues facing the city, county and state are affecting or will affect residents of low-income neighborhoods on the South and West sides of Chicago. This program is designed to add significant amounts of new information to the local news ecosystem. Winning projects will involve original reporting or original data analysis.

Inequality in golden years

If we truly believe that we’ve transcended race–” as we’ve so often told ourselves since last fall’s historic election of President Barack Obama–”then it’s time nursing home owners put up or shut up. In this issue’s cover story “Lower Standards,” Jeff Kelly Lowenstein reveals that most of the Chicago nursing homes where a majority of the residents are black received the worst federal rating–”a one on a scale of five. None of the 30 majority-black nursing homes in the city received the highest rating. However, 29 percent of the 45 majority-white nursing homes in Chicago received the highest rating, and just 11 percent received the worst rating. With that racial disparity, nursing homes have joined a long list of Chicago institutions mired in deep racial segregation related to quality.

AIDS: An unchecked threat

If a terrorist attack wiped out an American city the size of Boston, Denver or Seattle, there would be an immediate and overwhelming response. Federal, state and local officials would spend billions in relief without the usual bureaucratic red tape and politics that typically encumber government. Immediate steps would be taken to prevent future attacks, like the government’s response to 9/11. Those of us in other cities would offer our support, sympathy and savings, much like we did after Hurricane Katrina. Surely, we’d respond with more vigor, resources and compassion than we have to the attack being leveled by AIDS.

The Power Of Giving

Click here to download an Excel database on political contributions from energy companies. Since 1999, the combined political contributions from energy companies Ameren, Commonwealth Edison, Dominion, Dynegy, Edison International, Exelon, Midwest Generation, and NRG Energy totaled more than $6 million. The highest amounts were donated to some of the companies’ political action committees, but several lawmakers received at least $200,000. Note: Includes contributions made between Jan. 1, 1999, and June 30, 2008.

Editor’s Note: November-December 2008

I thought that the customer was always right. Maybe the motto doesn’t apply if a customer’s desire to remain healthy is outweighed by a company’s desire to stay wealthy. For years, customers of the energy produced at Chicago’s two coal-burning power plants have lobbied and demonstrated for reduced emissions. The loudest cries have come from Latino residents who live near the Crawford and Fisk power plants, which are located in the city’s Little Village and Pilsen neighborhoods, respectively. But the customers’ demands have largely gone unmet.

More Loan For The Same Home

Who received high-cost mortgage loans in 2007? A Chicago Reporter analysis of new mortgage lending data shows familiar racial and gender disparities among the individuals who received high-cost mortgage loans in 2007. By volume, white men received more high-cost loans than any other race-gender group. However, African Americans and Latinos were more likely to receive high-cost loans than their white and Asian counterparts, according to a Reporter analysis of more than 10 million mortgage loans granted in 2007. Even the wealthiest black borrowers were more likely to get a high-cost loan than the poorest Asian, Latino and white borrowers.

Editor’s Note: May-June 2008

In 30 years, you can learn a lot of lessons. But apparently it’s not long enough for many in Chicago. Thirty years ago, I was in 3rd grade on the South Side. Most of my classmates were black. The graduating 8thgrade class was white.