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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Help smoke this thief out, so he can be grilled by the cops

This is the first story I can remember ever writing about a stolen barbecue grill. But the Fat 50 Squared, I am assured, is no ordinary barbecue grill. Even to call it a grill is an insult.

Rauner’s big plans for Illinois? None of your business

At Monday night’s Illinois governor debate, Republican Bruce Rauner completed an amazing personal transformation — of a kind only seen in religion and politics — when he vowed he “will” raise the state’s minimum wage if elected.

Undocumented immigrants face long wait to apply for driver’s license

Every morning at 9 a.m., a ritual plays out in homes and offices across the Chicago area as thousands of people dial their phones or click online in hopes of being among the relatively few selected for that day’s chance at a valuable prize. But …

Chad Grimm, Libertarian candidate for gov, glad to get campaign cash from union

Chad Grimm, the Libertarian Party candidate for Illinois governor, said Monday he welcomes any financial support headed his way from a labor union that has dedicated itself to defeating Republican Bruce Rauner. Grimm, who sees himself as the only legitimate candidate for change in a …

Photo ID laws for voters don’t solve problems, they create them

Every time another state Legislature talks about requiring voters to carry a photo ID card, Thomas Armstrong III gets upset in a way you might not appreciate unless you’d walked in the Mississippi native’s shoes. As one of the “little people” in slain civil rights …

An election-year budget that tackles the tough issues — well, some of them

Mayor Rahm Emanuel took exception Wednesday to the characterization of his 2015 spending blueprint as an “election year budget,” especially if that implies he is putting off tough decisions until after the voting. I was going to say Emanuel bristled, but that wouldn’t be accurate. The mayor seems to be trying harder these days to keep his bristles in the prone position — perhaps in recognition that a style honed in Washington is part of what got him into trouble with voters here.

It’s an elite club — pols willing to stand up to Rahm

It’s not too late for another candidate to come forward who would have a chance of defeating Mayor Rahm Emanuel for re-election. But it’s very, very unlikely. With a hospitalized and seriously ill Karen Lewis ruling herself out of the race, Emanuel becomes the odds on favorite for four more years in office.

It’s in everyone’s interests to stop Ebola at the source

Illinois Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, addressing local precautions to the threat of an Ebola outbreak, made a statement this week he probably considered matter-of-fact but struck me as insightful enough to bear repeating. Hasbrouck told reporters Illinois residents are currently not at any …

If NRI didn’t help Quinn with black voters, hearings might

Ever since the release of a stinging audit in February, Gov. Pat Quinn’s political team has hotly disputed any suggestion there was a tie between his 2010 launch of an anti-violence program and his effort to energize African-American voters for that year’s election. On Wednesday, newly disclosed emails showed that at least one top member of his administration saw the connection at the time — and intentionally sought to exploit it.

Karen Lewis’ health scare puts mayoral contest in flux

What’s that old saying? Men make plans, and God laughs. It would apply to women, too, of course, even strong-willed teachers union presidents gearing up for a campaign for mayor. CTU President Karen Lewis’ hospitalization for as-yet unspecified health concerns continued to reverberate Tuesday through the local political scene as the status of the leading would-be challenger suddenly became uncertain.

Feds selective in homeless they are pushing to help

The federally-funded program that Ayesha Cargill credits with lifting her from homelessness — and possibly saving her life — no longer exists. That’s a personal concern for Cargill, who wonders where she would go if the mental health problems that contributed to her becoming homeless were to return. But she wonders, too, about all the people she sees on the street right now, “people who are just like me.” She’d like to refer them to those who gave her so much help, but they’re not there any more.

Goal to end homelessness among vets laudable, but is it realistic?

Dallas Wade’s experience might not fit everybody’s notion of what it means to be homeless. He’s never slept on the street or in a shelter. But as he sat in a park at 65th and University a year ago September, not knowing where he and his fiance and three children could spend the night, the Iraqi War veteran certainly considered himself homeless.

Navy mom making waves over airline losing son’s seabag

Seaman recruit Thomas Tudisco Jr., fresh out of boot camp at Naval Station Great Lakes, boarded the first flight of his life Saturday from O’Hare en route to his new assignment at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. Naturally, the airline lost his seabag. This left the 18-year-old Tudisco without his uniforms, his personal effects or even a clean change of underwear, which is probably not the best way in the military for a new recruit to make a good first impression.

Mugabe lobby trial might require some sifting through the b.s.

Strange things can happen when state legislators play foreign diplomat —especially, it would seem, if they are Illinois state legislators. Exhibit A: the ongoing federal trial of Chicago businessman C. Gregory Turner on charges he illegally lobbied on behalf of the government of Zimbabwe to lift U.S. sanctions on the African regime.

Daley’s legacy takes another turn with ex-cab official’s arrest

In the waning days of Richard M. Daley’s mayoralty, we at the Chicago Sun-Times published a quickie book, “The Daley Legacy: Looking Back at Four Decades of the Chicago Mayors.” It was fine little book within the limitations inherent in such a project, not the …

Burris revelation raises more questions in already puzzling case

An already bizarre trial involving allegations an African despot hired a pair of obscure South Side businessmen to overturn U.S. sanctions against his regime — with the help of Illinois politicians — took an even stranger detour Friday. In the process, former U.S. Sen. Roland Burris got sideswiped, if not outright run over, with completely unrelated — and to this point unsubstantiated — accusations he once tried to shake down a contractor while in office. Burris might be asking what he did to find himself in the middle of this mess, or just maybe he knows.

How small biz owners can avoid parking tickets for work trucks

Paul Hughes, co-owner of a small electrical contracting business, received a parking ticket a couple of weeks back while working a job on the North Side. His transgression? Parking a commercial truck on a city street. This baffled Hughes. Surely, the city didn’t intend to prevent service businesses like his from making house calls on city residents — or did it?