Mark Brown biography

Mark Brown is a local news columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times who writes about everything from political corruption to family life. Roger Ebert once called …Read More

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Preckwinkle’s decision good for Emanuel and Lewis

By finally taking herself out of the 2015 mayoral discussion Tuesday, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle took some of the pressure off Mayor Rahm Emanuel but also paved the way for Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis to take center stage as the most …

Brown: State panel should ignore feds’ request to delay funding probe

When federal prosecutors make a request, it’s not a good idea to ignore them. After all, they indict people for a living. But in the case of the U.S. Department of Justice asking state legislators to temporarily stand down in their investigation of Gov. Pat …

Brown: From Irish dairy farm to immigration reform to U.S. citizenship

It’s been 16 years since Billy Lawless came to Chicago from Ireland to build his fortune in the tavern business and nine years since he began sticking his broad neck out to put an Irish face on the need for immigration reform in the U.S. …

More memory lapses from a Park Grill witness

Laura Foxgrover, cast as the femme fatale in a titillating sweetheart contract scandal at former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s Park District, reluctantly took the stage Wednesday. Testifying as a “hostile witness” in the Emanuel Administration’s lawsuit against the owners of the Park Grill restaurant, the …

Gutierrez nudges Obama to ease up on deportations, but president isn’t moving

On Tuesday, Gutierrez and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights stuck to their earlier game plan, demanding Obama take action now to slow the deportations. But Obama didn’t address their concerns.

Supreme Court throws wet rag on pension plan

That pre-holiday firecracker lobbed under the Statehouse dome by the Illinois Supreme Court has the potential to reverberate through the state for years to come. By ruling that the subsidized health care benefits of retired state employees are protected by the Illinois Constitution, the court …

End of an era for Southwest Side variety store

It should really come as no surprise that J&R Variety Store, regarded by its owner as the last of the old “five and dimes” in Chicago, is going out of business after 58 years at 63rd and Pulaski. The surprise is that J&R has survived this long, outlasting all the Woolworths, Kresges and Ben Franklins — the other neighborhood-based, little-box stores that long ago made way for the big ones.

At Soldier Field, soccer a good reason for a really good party

It’s hard to say how many of the 28,000 fans who showed up Tuesday afternoon at Soldier Field to watch Belgium beat the U.S. 2-1 in World Cup soccer understood that this was always the most likely outcome. Maybe half the crowd was comprised of …

Time will tell whether unions recover from the Supreme Court’s decision

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday delivered a punch to the solar plexus of what’s left of the American labor movement, although happily not the knockout blow conservatives were seeking. Only time will tell whether labor unions will recover from the blow or whether the high court will follow up with another more crippling shot as soon as it gets the right case.

Is ‘sovereign’ group a cover for real estate rip-offs?

Earlier this year, someone identifying himself as a representative of the Moorish Science Temple of America sent Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough and City Treasurer Stephanie Neely an “affidavit” informing them they were each being fined $1 million for slander. Their alleged offense? …

SRO tenants get an assist from mayor

In a case of better late than never, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration on Tuesday called for a six-month moratorium on the conversion or demolition of Single Room Occupancy housing and residential hotels. The moratorium comes more than a year after low-income housing advocates began raising …

Dems can’t bury issues of Quinn’s anti-violence program

Illinois Democrats would like to put the whole mess of Gov. Pat Quinn’s troubled anti-violence program behind them as quickly as possible, so much so that they have forgotten one of Yogi Berra’s greatest maxims: It ain’t over ’til it’s over. I hate to break it to Rep. Bob Rita, D-Blue Island, and Sen. John Mulroe, D-Chicago, and whoever’s water they were carrying Monday with a determined attempt to “bring closure” to a legislative investigation of Quinn’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.

Factory closure has familiar tone

When workers at Republic Windows and Doors were informed in 2008 that the company was shutting its Goose Island plant, the resulting protest became a national rallying point that energized the labor movement and helped inspire the Occupy campaign. On Friday, another company, Sound Solutions Windows and Doors, finished closing down operations at its own factory at 4422 W. 46th St. near Midway Airport, leaving 200 people out of work who likewise will not receive any severance or payment for accrued vacation.

‘Sovereign citizens’ aim to take common law into their own hands

If you’d like to get in on the ground floor of a growing new organization that could empower you to compel testimony from your least favorite congressman or indict your ex-wife’s divorce lawyer, I might have something for you. A group calling itself the National Liberty Alliance has scheduled a meeting for 2 p.m. Saturday at a Bartlett pizza parlor to hold an election to “reinstate the Common Law grand jury.”

Sovereign citizen case here spotlights growing anti-government movement

It would be easy to dismiss Cherron Phillips, the “sovereign citizen” on trial for harassing federal judges and prosecutors with $100 billion liens, as just another kook. Indeed, I have little doubt she has issues. But what may surprise you is that the sovereign citizen …

Dillard seeks RTA chairman’s job, but Rauner may knock effort off track

State Sen. Kirk Dillard, two-time runner-up for the Republican nomination for governor, has been openly campaigning to be the next chairman of the Regional Transportation Authority. The problem for Dillard is that the guy who just beat him, Bruce Rauner, would apparently prefer somebody else …

Rauner should be red-faced over meager reform ‘Blueprint’

Silly me. I honestly believed that when Republican Bruce Rauner stopped ducking and finally started talking substantively about what he would do if elected governor that he probably would have some ideas that deserved to be taken seriously. After all, Rauner is supposed to be …