Chicago Sun-Times Latest news from the Chicago Sun-Times Online en-us (Editor) Newspapers Chicago Sun-Times 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ Country says ‘you can’t be a family’ ]]> Lead story image

Shortly after Amy Godoy-Guerra married husband Carlos in 2007, the couple sought to remedy Carlos’ status as an undocumented immigrant. Carlos’ best chance to obtain legal U.S. residency required the end of his unlawful stay here, and the couple decided to ride out the wait for his green card together by living and working in other countries. Stops included Spain, Mexico and South Korea. Seven years later, they live in separate countries. She’s back in West Chicago, and he’s in Mexico. They are still in love and resolute on being together, yet drained financially and emotionally as they continue maneuvering … ]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 02:18:24 -0500 <![CDATA[ Mexico’s shame shades its beauty ]]> Lead story image

There is beauty throughout Mexico. From the cactus plants in the north to the palm trees in the south and the Sierra Madre Mountains that stretch through the country, I have seen its beauty up close. I have walked along dirt roads thinking this is how the Earth is supposed to smell: dewy all day long. I have been on Mexico’s city streets reeking of car pollution, noticing the hurried life, which is a lot like our urban areas. Women hold their purses a little tighter in such places. Maybe because Mexico isn’t too far removed from being a third-world … ]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 02:02:01 -0500 <![CDATA[ ‘Somebody is thinking about them’ ]]> Lead story image

Outside the immigrant detention facility in Broadview, Minister Bobby Lawson of Matteson approaches distraught families who bring clothes and money to loved ones about to be deported. He meets them at their cars. “Habla Ingles?” he asks them. He speaks a little Spanish, he tells them. He will walk with them to the facility’s door and remind them they cannot enter with purses or cellphones. Mostly, he is there in case they need to lean on someone. Some families have driven through the night from other states. They will have maybe a minute, no more, to say goodbye. All they … ]]> Fri, 03 Oct 2014 02:19:52 -0500 <![CDATA[ Making a fresh start in Little Village ]]> Lead story image

The question is routine, appearing on just about every job application. “Have you been convicted of any law violation (except a minor traffic violation)?” I pulled that one from a fast-food restaurant application, but anyone who has applied for a job, whether it’s entry level or high level, has seen a variation of the question. A “yes” response is likely to doom the applicant. Even an arrest is likely to show up on a background check and could affect whether someone is promoted or hired, though in many cases it is illegal for employers to use arrest records to gauge … ]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 02:17:56 -0500 <![CDATA[ Something smells in Little Village ]]> Lead story image

If not for its unbearable stench, Collateral Channel would go unnoticed in Little Village. Covered by trees and brush, the slip of water on the north side of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal is barely visible to traffic along 31st Street near Cook County Jail. But residents who live nearby cannot escape the smell produced by sewer overflows and a century of pollution. Hot, muggy days are the worst; windy days bring a respite. “If it’s not windy, you can smell everything,” said Ruben Quintero, 70, who lives on Albany Avenue near 31st. “If there are dead animals in … ]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 02:18:28 -0500 <![CDATA[ They won’t quit immigration reform ]]> Lead story image

Ashley Moy-Wooten spent her own money and on her own time raced to the Iowa caucuses in 2008 to rally support for Barack Obama, then running against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. “We believed he was different,” Moy-Wooten, 31, said this week. “We were inspired.” Additionally, Moy-Wooten helped the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights register 10,000 voters before that presidential election. “Why did we do this?” an anguished Moy-Wooten, a senior organizer for the west suburban action group PASO, said Wednesday. “We believed we were going to get immigration reform. He said he would do it.” … ]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 11:25:47 -0500 <![CDATA[ Blindness doesn’t slow 9/11 survivor ]]> Lead story image

Michael Blizzard Hingson was born in Chicago during a snowstorm. That’s how his parents came up with his middle name. His parents gave him an ordinary life in Chicago and later in California. He played outside with cousins and was roughed up by an older brother, attended public school and rode his bike cheerfully around his neighborhood. Ordinary things. Yet, to outsiders he was viewed as an extraordinary boy because he was blind. At 64, he is an advocate and unofficial spokesperson for the blind. He gives lectures all over the world. He can talk about the staggering unemployment rate … ]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 06:22:26 -0500 <![CDATA[ Heavy young men get labeled ]]> Lead story image

Devonte Washington, in his second year at Kennedy-King College on the South Side, hauls a backpack in Army camouflage colors when he goes to school. It looks like an itty-bitty thing against his imposing 6-foot-2-inch, heavy frame, and it is useful for more than carrying books. It alters his image. “Nobody bothers me when I have my book bag,” Washington, who is black, said after leaving Kennedy-King on Wednesday. “I don’t get a second glance.” Without his book bag, he might get a suspicious look from police patrolling the neighborhood, but that probably also depends on what he’s wearing and … ]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:10:36 -0500 <![CDATA[ College dorm in Pilsen says ‘hola’ ]]> Lead story image

Polo Briones got a reasonably priced alternative to campus housing when the senior at the University of Illinois at Chicago moved to La Casa, a college dormitory in Pilsen for students attending colleges all over the city. The internship he landed was a nice bonus. Briones’ aspirations to be an urban planner resonated with staff members at the Resurrection Project and led to his hiring at the Pilsen nonprofit. La Casa was opened two years ago for students who cannot afford the steep price of living on their college campuses and have grown tired of long commutes. “I’m learning about … ]]> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 06:27:13 -0500 <![CDATA[ English first? No law is necessary ]]> Lead story image

I’ll never forget the first time I realized my Spanish skills were eroding. I look back on it with humor and regret. My father was dying but had not stated his burial wishes. I needed to find out if he wanted a burial or cremation. Our relationship was a bit formal; he could be tough to approach. Shortly after initiating the conversation, I flubbed my words because I didn’t know how to say cremation in Spanish. “I don’t know what you want, Dad,” I told him in Spanish. “Mom says she wants to be burned when she dies.” I said … ]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 06:35:02 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jail keeps a neighborhood quiet ]]> Lead story image

The massive compound that is the Cook County Jail bears down on the Little Village neighborhood of South Sacramento Avenue between 26th and 31st streets. A towering concrete slab walls off the inmates’ exercise yard from the neighborhood, though from the right angle residents can see basketball hoops in the yard. From a certain vantage point, inmates can see the residents, too. “Hey, sweetheart,” one shouted to a woman walking Wednesday against the glare of the summer sun on the chain-link fence and rows of barbed and sharper razor wires. “Hey, white girl,” I heard later as I walked across … ]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 06:38:28 -0500 <![CDATA[ Getting over the ick factor ]]> Lead story image

Some will snicker and others will be unnerved after reading this column. Those with a truly open mind about recycling will appreciate the innovation. It’s about turning human waste into organic fertilizer, a process being undertaken across the country by municipalities that dispose of tons of waste daily after we flush toilets. Some towns still use landfills to deposit sludge while others incinerate it. Recycling human waste is an alternative backed by Environmental Protection Agency. Under strict EPA guidelines, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago is turning human waste into organic fertilizers, in the pellet form or a … ]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 02:17:47 -0500 <![CDATA[ A garden grows in Little Village ]]> Lead story image

MARLEN GARCIA: The quarter-acre lot on South Troy Street in Little Village, once abandoned, is starting to thrive as a community garden. That means a lot to the residents, including guys I call old-timers, who spend several hours weekly caring for the property that used to be an eyesore with a high stink factor. ]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 06:22:13 -0500 <![CDATA[ VA scandals discourage recruits ]]> Lead story image

Looking back on his childhood and early adult life, Vietnam War veteran Ronald Baltierra believes he had an undiagnosed hyperactivity disorder. “I’ve been told I was a good soldier but I couldn’t sit still,” Baltierra, who received a bronze star for valor, says. “In Vietnam they didn’t care if you were hyper.” These days hyperactivity disorders are treated with prescription medications, and such treatment can bar you from enlisting in the military. Obesity, some tattoos and body piercings also can keep you out. The Department of Defense estimates that a whopping 71 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds would fail to … ]]> Tue, 05 Aug 2014 06:31:59 -0500 <![CDATA[ The payoff for a brutal winter ]]> Lead story image

We sloshed through heavy snow amid record-setting frigid temperatures for months and looked forward to spring, only to see typically vigorous shrubs and plants toasted from the winter burn. If there is an upside to a brutal winter, it’s hard to see it. But it exists in what we don’t see. Let’s start with skunks. Though they help control the mice, beetle and other rodent populations, they batter us (and our beloved pets) with their stench. Recent mild winters by Chicago standards had led to an increase in the skunk population and the possibility of a spike in rabies. “We … ]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 06:24:48 -0500 <![CDATA[ These nuns won’t back down ]]> Lead story image

In a letter she wrote earlier this week to Pope Francis, Sister Noemia Silva asked him to bless and pray for nuns as they fight to close down a Stone Park strip club built awfully close to their convent in Melrose Park. Did she really use those words — strip club — in her letter? I figured she might have softened it for the pope and used gentlemen’s club or adult entertainment when referring to Club Allure Chicago. She sure did call it a strip club, she said. “You have to call it what it is,” she added. When we … ]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:56:15 -0500 <![CDATA[ Berwyn kids clue in the adults ]]> Lead story image

Years ago, as a high school sports reporter, I learned to never underestimate the intelligence and poise of adolescents. Their brains are still developing and they have plenty of life lessons ahead of them, but they are far more astute than adults think. Berwyn Mayor Robert J. Lovero was reminded of this when sixth-grade students from Freedom Middle School invited him to attend a presentation last winter. The students had brainstormed on a community project for Our American Voice, a civics-minded, project-based education program funded by a nonprofit that has been implemented in South Berwyn School District 100 and Chicago. … ]]> Mon, 14 Jul 2014 06:28:19 -0500 <![CDATA[ Antenna TV looks like no free ride ]]> Lead story image

Back in January, I became one of more than 21 million U.S. residents to hook up a television to an antenna. Cable television had become too expensive, around $100 a month, so I cut that cord. Increasingly, others are doing the same. In April, USA Today reported that homes with antennas increased from 20 million in 2012 to 21.5 million in 2013. I canceled cable “in favor of old-fashioned antenna TV as well as much cheaper Internet-dependent subscription services,” I wrote five months ago. There was a glitch in my thinking. Antenna TV doesn’t exist as it once did. In … ]]> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 06:28:47 -0500