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

Search recent columns

More Columns

Ridesharing? OK. But how about regulationsharing?

I’m all in favor of anyone who can figure out how to build a better mousetrap. That’s the American way. Where I would have a problem is if they were to call the mousetrap a rodent restriction device in an effort to avoid government regulations on mousetrap safety. Maybe that’s not the best example, as I’m not certain the government regulates mousetrap manufacturers. Something I’m absolutely certain the government regulates is the taxicab industry. Why, then, do all these requirements go out the window when the taxi company chooses to call itself a ridesharing service or a transportation network provider?

Future of affordable housing unclear after SRO tenant deals

In a bid to preserve his home in Logan Square’s bug-infested Milshire Hotel, Fred Bartels testified before the City Council just last month in favor of a city moratorium on converting or demolishing single-room occupancy and residential hotels. On Friday, Bartels was making plans for what he could do with the $4,000 he will receive in exchange for moving out of the Milshire by Sept. 2 as part of a settlement between tenants and the building owner.

Teachers could help Karen Lewis teach Rahm a lesson

The adoring crowd that welcomed Karen Lewis to the Beverly Woods Banquet Hall on Tuesday gave the first of her public “Conversations with Karen” the feel of a Chicago Teachers Union rally. That’s probably because it was a CTU production start to finish — arranged …

Northwest Side’s Our Lady of Victory lives up to its name

Tuesday marked the first day of school at Our Lady of Victory in Portage Park, the annual ritual taking on added significance this year. Not a tear was observed to fall from a child’s eye, but I can’t vouch for some of the parents who hurried away. Mostly there were smiles all around, which wasn’t the case just eight months ago when this Catholic elementary school was slated for closing by the Archdiocese of Chicago because of shaky finances

Gov. Rauner and Mayor Lewis — a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man

Cue your best Rod Serling imitation. “Imagine, if you will, a world in which Republican plutocrat Bruce Rauner is governor of Illinois and lefty teachers union President Karen Lewis is mayor of Chicago. “Have have just entered the Twilight Zone or what?” What might have seemed completely far-fetched a year ago is now a more than possible outcome, if you believe the latest public opinion polling from both major newspapers.

Unions no longer booing Quinn now that Rauner is on the stage

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan stood with Gov. Pat Quinn at the State Fair on Wednesday to try to send a clear message that all of organized labor stands behind the Democrat’s re-election. Given that just two years ago union members booed Quinn …

‘Simple, kind people’ who saved her family in a world gone mad

Adina Sella readily admits she doesn’t remember much about Giocondo and Annina Marconi, the Italian couple that sheltered her Jewish family during the Holocaust. “They were very, very simple, kind people. He was a woodworker. She was at home,” Sella, 78, told me Tuesday. We …

Quinn losing reform mantle not as shocking as Rauner winning it

I know I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn that Gov. Pat Quinn is no longer viewed by Illinois voters as a reformer. After a lifetime in politics and nearly six years as governor of this seemingly ungovernable state, the last year of it spent …

Nothing seems to stick to Bruce Rauner: Brown

The indictment this week of two high-level employees of one of the many companies that form the basis for Bruce Rauner’s wealth drew renewed attention to a central conundrum of the governor’s race.

Ducking out early one day landed police trainee on city’s ‘do-not-hire list’

Christopher Birt was stunned this week to find his name among the individuals blacklisted for life from getting a job with the city of Chicago or its sister agencies. As the Chicago Sun-Times Watchdogs explained this week, the city’s so-called “do-not-hire list” is a “roster …

Homeless in Uptown stay put for now

With the rain falling Monday night, the homeless people who stay along Lake Shore Drive in Uptown were easy to spot, gathered under the viaducts to stay dry instead of sleeping in the park. Word was the city was planning to show up late to …

B-Boy is up in air, but K-Fest still gets E for effort, A for honesty

The press release touting this weekend’s forthcoming Chicago Korean Festival may have set a new standard for candor. “Chicago’s Korean Fest Strives to Survive Another Year; Going on Not-So-Strong for the 19th Annual,” declared the headline on the announcement written by Lily Kim, managing partner …

Cop quietly runs free summer day camp to keep kids off streets — and on path to success

In Parkway Gardens, a sprawling low-income housing development in Woodlawn, everybody from the itty-bitties to the gang leaders knows Officer Maddox. She’s the Chicago police officer who in her off hours runs a free summer day camp for the children there, funded in part from …

  • Ex-Ald. Shiller as council's new budget analyst bad idea that won't die

    The notion of installing former Ald. Helen Shiller as the City Council’s new independent budget analyst is one of those bad ideas you hope will go away on its own before it gets personal.  No such luck.

  • Dem ballot questions a waste of voters’ time

    I’d like to think I have always taken seriously the responsibility and opportunity of having an election ballot in front of me, making sure to cast a vote on each and every office and referendum.That even goes for the painful judicial retention ballot, where by the way, “NO” is an underused and always valid choice, contrary to what the judges and precinct captains would tell you.This year, however, I’ve decided to cut short my work in the voting booth. I’ve got better things to do than to waste time answering all the useless ballot questions Illinois Democrats have decided should

  • Extra alarm over CPS preference in firefighter hiring

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel barely caused a ripple of reaction two years ago when he announced Chicago Public School graduates would be given a leg up when applying for city jobs. But now that the city is preparing to take applications for firefighters for the first time in a decade, Emanuel’s “CPS preference” policy is sparking an outcry from some city residents who say it discriminates against graduates of Catholic and other private schools.

  • Rauner choosy about what corporate loopholes to close

    To show that a guy with nine homes can be a man of the people and not just another corporate frontman, Republican Bruce Rauner last month offered up his ideas for closing special interest tax loopholes. Topping Rauner’s list, which was indeed somewhat unusual for …Read More