Chicago - Nov. 9, 2019
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The Weekend Desk Report

"When I awoke last Saturday morning to the news of Jeffrey Epstein's death, I realized that the moment had come: the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), the federal prison where he died, was about to get its fifteen minutes of fame," Aviva Stahl writes in "Why Federal Prisons Like The One Where Epstein Was Held Aren't Held Accountable" for the Columbia Journalism Review.

"As a freelance investigative reporter who frequently covers the prison system, I'd spent years trying to pitch stories about that facility, often without success. Last summer, I managed to publish an investigation into conditions at the MCC on the website Gothamist. "The story documented that MCC was overcrowded and understaffed, plagued by vermin and overflowing toilets, dogged by allegations of corruption and abuse, and beset by an almost total lack of medical care. None of that got much attention at the time. But as soon as news of Epstein's death started circulating, so did my piece.

"Of course, editorial interest ebbs and flows with the news cycle, and in the post-Obama era, perhaps more than ever, investigative reporting about (seemingly) non-Trump-related federal problems is a tough sell. But the almost total dearth of interest in MCC can be traced back decades; it isn't just a reflection of journalistic myopia that's plagued the American media landscape under the current president. It's also a reflection of the flawed metrics that newsrooms use to determine when jail and prison stories are 'newsworthy.'"

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And not just jail and prison stories, but I digress.

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"A few factors contributed to the almost total lack of MCC coverage until Epstein's death."

I'm going to make you click through to find out what those factors are.

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Perhaps my favorite insight, though - and an important rule of thumb for journalists everywhere - is Stahl describing how she was forced "to treat the morality of my main character as secondary to the moral obligation of those who oversee his incarceration."

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P.S.:

From the Gothamist post that Stahl references:

"When MCC first opened in 1975 as part of the broader renovation of New York's downtown civic center institutions, the move was praised as an important step towards prison reform. '[T]he new Metropolitan Correctional Center at Foley Square will bring to New York City its first piece of advanced - and humane - prison design' hailed The New York Times in an article published just before the facility's completion."

From that New York Times article, written by architecture critic Paul Goldberger:

"The new Metropolitan Correctional Center is, a superb example of an intelligently full secure environment that nonetheless manages to be comfortable and even, to the extent that any prison can, feel welcoming."

It's possible that was the case at the time, but that's not how it's worked out. Whether that was foreseeable, I do not know.

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Immigrant Protection Act Loophole?

via the Autonomous Tenants Union:

"On Wednesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Immigrant Protection Act into law, making Illinois the second state to prohibit landlords from evicting, intimidating, and retaliating against tenants on the basis of their immigration status.

"In our intertwined roles as a tenant-led union organizing against the displacement of our neighborhood's working class population, and as a coalition member combating deportations under the banner of the Albany Park Defense Network, the Autonomous Tenants Union (ATU) welcomes these new protections. At a time when our immigrant members and neighbors are under direct threat from the federal government and from those emboldened by its nakedly nativist, white supremacist rhetoric, it is vitally important that we fortify our defenses at the state and local levels.

"Unfortunately, the existing weaknesses in our tenant protections threaten to undermine the efficacy of this new law. The Immigrant Tenant Protect Act prohibits landlords from pursuing eviction 'based solely or in part on the immigration or citizenship status of a tenant.' However, because landlords are not required to provide cause for pursuing the eviction of tenants whose leases have expired and/or are on month-to-month rental agreements, this prohibition can only be enforced against the most egregious offenders - ones who go so far as to openly tout their prejudice. A landlord's whim is not a morally acceptable reason for someone to lose their home. This is why ATU advocates for a Just Cause law that would require landlords to prove that a tenant is in violation of their rental agreement in order to have them evicted.

"In order to add teeth to the prohibition on housing discrimination against immigrant tenants, the new law also establishes tenants' right to redress in both housing court and through civil litigation. Again, these essential measures are undermined by pre-existing holes in our tenant protections. Landlords typically have lawyers on retainer, but many working class tenants cannot afford an attorney and/or cannot afford to take time off of work to attend housing court. As a result, the average eviction trial in Chicago takes less than 2 minutes, and ends in a summary judgement in the landlord's favor. A tenant being evicted because of their immigration status cannot adequately assert the affirmative defense established by this law if they do not have a lawyer, which is why Chicago needs to join cities like New York and San Francisco in establishing a Tenant's Right to Counsel. Just as defendants in criminal cases have the right to a public defender, so to should those at risk of having their homes taken from them.

"This is a move into the right direction to prevent landlords from weaponizing fear by using deportation threats to get undocumented immigrants to move out of their apartments," said Antonio GutiƩrrez, an undocumented tenant organizer with ATU. "We now need to educate our community about their rights and make sure landlords are held accountable to this new law."

"The passage of the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act is an important step forward in the struggle to defend our communities. But there is more work to be done to ensure that the promise of this law does not go unfulfilled. ATU will continue its fight for the full decommodification of housing, and calls on city and state lawmakers to continue to strengthen tenants' legal protections."

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An Illinois Funding First

via Illinois CASA:

"Illinois CASA has been awarded a $2,885,000.00 in state funding. This is the first time in Illinois CASA's 26 years of operation that they have received any state funding.

"This funding will split between 31 local programs across Illinois to expand their programing so more kids who have experienced child abuse or neglect can have a specially trained Court Appointed Special Advocate assigned to their case. In addition, there will be money to go into some counties to open new CASA programs to help serve the over 2,000 survivors who do not currently have access to a CASA program.

"'This funding means that more children across Illinois do not have to go through the court process alone,' says executive director Mari Christopherson."

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About Illinois CASA
CASA stands for court appointed special advocate. A CASA is a trained, community volunteer who advocates for the best interests of abused and neglected children who are involved with the child welfare system. CASA volunteers serve in child abuse and neglect cases, Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) cases and sometimes in adoption proceedings. In Illinois there are 31 non-profit CASA programs with nearly 2,500 volunteers who in 2018 advocated for the best interests of 4,184 child victims of abuse and neglect.

Here are the three measures the CASA network works to improve:

* Safety: Less than 1% of children assigned a CASA re-entered protective care in 2018.

* Permanency: Children assigned a CASA have shorter lengths of time in protective care. DCFS: 17,481 cases. 4,351 closed. 25% Achieved Permanency (2020 DCFS Budget Briefing) CASA: 4,482 cases assigned. 1,667 closed. 39% annual closure rate.

* Well-Being: CASA volunteers are trained to advocate in court for the educational needs and physical and mental health needs of children. There were no serious injury reports or child deaths when a CASA was appointed.

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A Hideous Catastrophe
"We were dreading it, and yesterday began this year's edition of 'Players' Weekend' in Major League Baseball," John Ekdahl writes for Uni-Watch.

"While we knew what to expect, it's difficult to put into words just how awful it actually looked when the players finally took the field. You couldn't read the team names, you had difficulty making out the numbers and you couldn't read the nicknames. Wasn't that half the point of this exercise, to let players highlight their nicknames?

"In Chicago, the Cubs all wore blue hats instead of white. This was reportedly because Jon Lester didn't like the black hat pitchers were forced to wear due to the difficulty in picking up the baseball for hitters."

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Weekend Beachwood . . .

TrackNotes: Season's Greetings, Suckers
In racing analytics, it's SSS. Still summer, STUPID!

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #266: The Cubs' Double Bipolarity
Splitsville. Plus: Nick The Stick; Bullpenmanship; Dave Roberts Abused Brandon Morrow, Then Joe Maddon Finished Him; Ben Press; Cards > Brewers; Luke Box; Rickey Rentamanager; and The Kick And The Dead.

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Weekend ChicagoReddit

What's the point of radio traffic reports if they have to be announced in under 30 seconds? from r/chicago

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Weekend ChicagoGram

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Weekend ChicagoTube

Iron Maiden in Tinley Park on Friday night.

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Weekend BeachBook

5 Things People Still Get Wrong About Slavery.

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This Desert Is Covered In Rock Graffiti.

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Weekend TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Weekend Desk Tipsy Line: Don't be shy.



Permalink

Posted on August 24, 2019


MUSIC - Did Chicago Drill Change The Game?
TV - Jonathan Pie's Campaign Trail.
POLITICS - Harvey Strip Club Fight.
SPORTS - Beachwood Sports Radio: Bears Ball Of Confusion.

BOOKS - Macmillan Screwing Libraries.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Recall! Nature's Rancher Organic Ground Beef.


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