Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Yes Dennis, there is a double standard in sentencing...

... and this is a prime example:

Drug rehab requested by judge
A mother's call to help her grown son produced a large heroin and cocaine arrest in Washington this spring and, in the long run, perhaps the help her son will use.

Tyler W. Mabrey, 25, of 202 Main St. will spend the five-year prison term he received Monday at a facility with a drug rehabilitation program if the state Department of Corrections can find room to accommodate the request by Tazewell County Circuit Judge Scott Shore.

Washington police on May 5 knew only that they were responding to a mother's report that her son was suicidal and had locked himself in the bathroom, according to a court affidavit. Mabrey's brother told them when they arrived that he had heard a thud from behind the locked door.

With the mother's permission, the officers kicked the door open and found Mabrey unconscious on the floor with several hypodermic needles around him, the records stated.

They also found $39,000 in cash bundled in $1,000 and $2,000 packets "in a manner consistent with those who sell drugs," according to the affidavit.

Among the drugs police found were two loose bags of crack cocaine, seven more sealed ones and 13 bags of a brown, rocky substance they later determined was heroin, the affidavit stated.

The officers also found drug paraphernalia and learned from tests conducted that Mabrey's clothes contained drug residue.

Mabrey pleaded guilty to possessing a controlled substance with intent to deliver after a second charge was dismissed. The Class 1 felony was punishable by four to 15 years in prison.

Mabrey's mother told police her son was unemployed and was receiving disability payments. Source

Grinnell Street Boys & Girls Club closed for security reasons

What does that tell us about the success of the Harrison School/Neighborhood Impact Zone?

The East Bluff Boys and Girls Club (shown in photo above) is already crammed full of kids, in an area where crime is just a little too normal (the Glen Oak School Neighborhood Impact Zone). They are confined to playing on a very small lot, directly across the street from the Glen Oak Community Center. Now the Boys and Girls Club is adding 60 children from the Grinnell Street location to the mix - is there even room? And why bus them from the Harrison area to the East Bluff, can't they make use of the Harrison School, birth-through-eighth grade Community Learning Center?

Boys and Girls Club's site closed for summer
About 60 children being transported to East Bluff due to security concerns

The Boys and Girls Club's Grinnell Street site near the old Harrison Homes is closed for the summer because of security reasons, according to Leslie Matuszak, the agency's director. Instead, employees or parents are transporting about 60 children daily from the Harrison Homes area to the Boys and Girls Club along Kansas Street in the East Bluff.

"We're primarily running everything from our East Bluff location, primarily because of safety and costs," Matuszak said.

The closing stemmed from concerns about the safety of staff, as well as children who walk back and forth to Boys and Girls Club programs during the summer. Though the club is not responsible for children en route, Matuszak said some children have been approached by drug dealers or bullies as they walked back and forth to the Grinnell site.

"I can't pay a security guard $28 an hour and that's the going rate," she said. Security is less of a problem when school is in session, Matuszak added. Increased activity in and around Harrison Community Learning Center acts as a safety buffer.

One mother, dropping her children off at a van parked at the Grinnell Street site Monday, said her children preferred the East Bluff location. She did not want her named used.

Though the Grinnell site is closed, the agency still offers some programs on the south side this summer. For instance, children walk to a tutoring and mentoring program the Boys and Girls Club offers at Manual Academy.

The summer closing has also resulted in adjustments in the maintenance of a teaching garden the club maintains at Harrison school. Originally, children from the Grinnell Street site would care for the garden during the summer months. Currently, Boys and Girls Club staff transports children from the Kansas Street site a few times a week.

The Grinnell Street location has been closed since mid-June and will reopen in mid-August. About 500 children are involved in the club's summer programs. Source

Monday, July 16, 2012

Is the Addidas "slave shoe" controversy a double standard?

Not kahute!
“The design of the JS Roundhouse Mid is nothing more than the designer Jeremy Scott’s outrageous and unique take on fashion and has nothing to do with slavery. Jeremy Scott is renowned as a designer whose style is quirky and lighthearted. Any suggestion that this is linked to slavery is untruthful.”

Black leather wedge sandal with chain ankle-strap, 5″ heel, in sizes 5.5–12. $1,290. Italy. Bergdorf’s.
Very kahute!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Coverage of Saturday's Stop the Violence March-Taft Homes

Dozens of Peorians took the street Saturday night in an effort to curb violence in the city. The "Stop the Violence March" took off on Adams Street and continued through the Taft Homes.

Organizer Howard Nathan said he knew he had to do something when his Mom called him, scared of the growing violence in her neighborhood. "These kids are not out here just fighting anymore," said Nathan. "They are out here shooting. They are using guns, big guns, guns we don't even know, haven't even heard of."

Participants said it's not one area of Peoria that's the problem, but violence in the entire community has to stop. Currently the city's homicide count for 2012 stands at seven.Nathan plans to march in a different area of the city each week until the violence stops.

"Every week, every week, as long as we can just get more people listening and coming out joining us," said Howard. "Who knows how long it will go, until some of this stops."

"We just got to take it to every area that's experienced a homicide, you know what I mean," said march participant Kelvin Parker. "Not even necessarily gun violence but just a death is a death. Homicide or not, a death is a death. We just got to take it city wide and not just down here. We got to take it far and beyond."

Participants said an attitude change has to take place in the city, with an emphasis on family and self-respect.

"We just got to take more interest in our children cause sometimes the children can turn to the streets if they can't turn to their parents for guidance and love," said Parker. "If we as parents give our kids that time they need to listen and see what their life is like, then I think that might stop it."

Nathan hopes the message spreads across Peoria and beyond.Source

Thursday, July 12, 2012

It was supposed to be an oasis in the urban desert

... instead the new Glen Oak Community Learning Center looks like a desert. The grass is dead, newly planted trees are dead and the property was devoid of any activity on a beautiful summer day. A "four-city-block area" with dead grass all around.

It could be that the District doesn't have the funds to run the sprinkler system (assuming one was installed for brand new landscaping); or maybe it's because they can't afford the water bill.

Recall the hype: Glen Oak Community Learning Center In the very heart of Peoria’s historic East Bluff neighborhood, a four-city-block area is being profoundly transformed via a unique set of public and private partnerships. The crown jewel in this development is an all-new 126,000-square-foot Glen Oak School and Community Center that will serve pupils from birth through eighth grade. From both urban and architectural design perspectives, the school itself breaks new ground by providing an all-weather pedestrian street that links a two-story academic wing with a one-story community facility wing. This pedestrian way is on axis with Frye Street, an important east-west connector that extends all the way to Prospect Avenue on the eastern edge of the East Bluff, and to Knoxville Avenue on its western edge.

Back of Community Learning Center
Glen Oak’s all-weather pedestrian street is intended to serve as the nucleus for the entire four-block development. Both the school’s expansive media center (to the north) and its cafeteria and multi-purpose community space (to the south) open directly to this interior venue. In the academic wing to the north, integrated learning laboratories can be found on both levels, which can be used collaboratively by student groups across several classes and grade levels. In the community wing to the south, residents of the surrounding neighborhood can take a night class, utilize the full-service gymnasium, or enjoy an exercise routine while looking out over the public park.

The Glen Oak development does not stop with simply a new school building. It includes a new public park (above the 110 deep wells that were dug for the geothermal heating and cooling system serving the school), designed in cooperation with the Peoria Park District, and a coordinated ensemble of new streets and intersections around the perimeter of the four-block site, designed and built by the City of Peoria. Beyond these public stakeholders, the private businesses in the adjacent Wisconsin Avenue Business District have begun organizing themselves in an effort to provide a powerful and dynamic private-sector complement to all of these public sector inputs.

Frye Street side of Community Learning Center
The Glen Oak Birth—8th Grade Community Learning Center development represents all the best and most profound elements of sustainability. The new school itself includes a geothermal heating and cooling system, generous amounts of natural daylighting, extensive use of recycled materials and systems, numerous bioswales and other natural catchments, and other up-to-the-minute green features. More importantly, it returns a significant portion of formerly “developed” urban area to a “natural” state (in the form of a public park, school sports fields and several outdoor nature explorer classrooms). And, perhaps most critically, it rejuvenates and “recycles” an existing, older neighborhood taking full advantage of all of the embodied energy and infrastructure that such a neighborhood has to offer.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

As an African-American, Mother and accidental Peorian, I am continually offended by the local newspaper

I find the high level of condescension and what I believe to be race baiting that continues to appear on the Editorial page of the Peoria Journal Star, nothing short of offensive. I would think the "type" of people they feel free to slam in these editorials don't read the newspaper, so one begins to wonder - exactly who are these editorials directed to? 

The continued editorials in a newspaper that is known for allowing hateful comments on articles about African-Americans is the reason I don't allow my children or any out of town visitors to read the local newspaper. Unfortunately, the editorials sound a lot like the hateful rhetoric that appears regularly on pjstar.com and local blogs - including EmergePeoria.

Below are just a few of the comments from recent editorials that I find in poor taste. Below that are just a few of the comments that racists are allowed to make on pjstar.com. The comments are seldom if ever removed for racist content.

July 6, 2012
"One wouldn't give them too much credit for self-restraint, however, as their enthusiasm for mayhem was likely quelled somewhat by the earlier presence of 22 police officers patrolling the public housing project, hoping to prevent a repeat of last year. As always, that uniform presence makes a difference. As soon as that disappeared, all hell broke loose."

"Some locals don't like the badges hanging around, of course. One visitor to Taft told a Journal Star reporter, "I don't want to say it's (military) tactics, but that's kind of what it feels like ... I understand the police presence to a degree, but this is overbearing."
" To which police Lt. Mike Eddlemon responded, and rightly in this view: "That's too bad ... I'm not doing and my officers aren't doing anything other than providing a safe atmosphere for everyone here."
"It's fair to ask: When was the last time police felt compelled to fire pepper balls to try to disperse a mob in a surrounding community?"

"At what point does the bar get raised not just for external influences - teachers, law enforcement, etc. - but for those who have the most direct responsibility for what they choose to gift to or unleash on the world? These kids have parents or some contact with an adult who should know better, don't they?"

"Here's one rule of thumb: Police yourself, police your own family, police your own block, and in time there will be no need for an "overbearing" police presence anywhere in the community."

"Meanwhile, the irony should not be lost on anyone: Even on Independence Day, independence can be too much of a burden for some."

Posted Jul 09, 2012 @ 11:01 PM
"… making their presence known, confronting young people in traffic stops, enforcing curfews, issuing citations for even the most innocuous of violations, impounding vehicles, just generally hassling those who are up to no good in a community that would be immeasurably better off if they shaped up or took themselves elsewhere."

"Few people wish to live with an occupying force in their neighborhoods, but apparently quite a few don't dislike it enough to cooperate with police so that indefensible crimes such as the drive-by shooting that killed 8-year-old Albert Billups in his sleep a year ago don't go unsolved."
"They hate the police, they hate the neighbor who wants to clean up the neighborhood. They are ... hell bent on destruction and disorder," noted Lt. Mike Eddlemon, who's leading the task force.
"Arrests are made when people who will not tolerate living like that tell police what they know, as someone did regarding the whereabouts of those allegedly responsible in the homicide of an East Peoria man in June. Two Peoria men are now in jail on first degree murder charges, facing the bleakest of futures."

"Of course, if you enjoy the nightly gun play, if you want your kids growing up in an environment where "you never know when a bullet could fly off in the wrong direction" - where if you don't lose them to violent crime you might forfeit them to gangs and jails instead - then by all means, keep your mouth shut. Most folks, it's safe to say, would weary of that lifestyle, but hey, the world is made up of all kinds."

"In any case, it's very troubling to hear a young teen say "we're not scared" while describing that kind of existence. The adults in the community have failed him, because that is not the right reaction. He and his siblings should be frightened. Peoria's leadership owes it to them to help them appreciate that shootouts in the streets are not normal. For those who disdain the tactics in preventing that, well, get used to them."

Click images to enlarge.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What exactly is the PHA doing about crime and safety

There is a great deal of the crime happening in Peoria's housing projects (Taft Homes, RiverWest, Harrison Homes), Section 8 properties and scattered site housing areas. These are all housing types that are managed by the Peoria Housing Authority (PHA).

As we continue to hear about crime throughout the city on PHA property or involving PHA residents, I began to wonder what exactly is the PHA, as a management company, doing about crime to make the clients who do abide by the law safe. Are they going into their pockets to provide extra security? Are they updating their No Trespass List on the regular and expunging old information?

I went to the website, hoping to take a look at the minutes of the Peoria Housing Authority Board to see how they are currently addressing these issues. Unfortunately, the last minutes from a Peoria Housing Authority Board meeting published on the Internet are dated March 28, 2011. The minutes are shown at the bottom of this post, notice there is no mention of crime, security or safety, even though the following was happening at the time...

I took a look at the Trespass List after Elaine Hopkins posted about it and made the following observations: 


Apparently there are names on the list of several people who are now deceased. There are names of people on the list who have children named after them - but there is no distinction as to age, or any descriptors other than M/B or F/B (black male or black female). The lack of updating of the list would seem to indicate that there is no dedicated knowledgeable security person working with the the Housing Authority.

Remember this article in the local newspaper talking about the Housing Authority buying security cameras? If they purchased security cameras, how come they aren't solving more of their own crimes? If they got the grant in October of 2010, they should have had the cameras in July of 2011 - how come they didn't have more information about exactly who had fireworks and was starting trouble?

What I did notice from the minutes of the Peoria Housing Authority Board is that there is a lot of discussion about getting money from the government and spending money (tax dollars), but there is little to no discussion about safety or quality of life of the people who reside on the properties.
Peoria Housing Authority Board Minutes

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Vigilance required when looking out for the needs of special education students

There have been several people who have commented on the blog about the problems in the District 150 Special Education Program. For that reason, I thought this article would be of interest.

Special Education, Spurned Teacher Is Vindicated
A passionate fellow, this teacher warned his principal last fall that their Bronx public high school was routinely violating the rights of the most vulnerable children, those in need of special education.

For speaking up, Mr. Lirtzman — who served as a deputy New York State comptroller before turning at age 53 to public-school teaching — saw his career ground to dust. He was denied tenure, and the principal, Grismaldy Laboy-Wilson, asked him to leave immediately. When he took his worries to the investigative arm of New York City’s Education Department, the investigators opened a file on him instead. His vindication arrived in the mail in June.

The State Education Department investigated his charges and sent him a copy of its report. It sustained Mr. Lirtzman’s allegations, one violation of state regulations after another.

High school administrators had put unqualified teachers in charge of special education classes. They pushed these students into classes crowded with general education students.

And most egregiously, when faced with teaching vacancies, the administrators brought in a conga line of substitute teachers on “rotating” one-week stints to teach special education classes. That treads perilously close to educational malpractice.

The city’s Education Department evinced little interest in Mr. Lirtzman’s allegations in May. Now a spokeswoman says it has commenced its own investigation.

The Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, which represents principals, argues that the fault lies with the city’s Education Department, which imposes budget cuts and ever more demands on principals. 

Higher-ups, they say, approved Principal Laboy-Wilson’s decisions, including placing substitute teachers in special education classrooms on a rotating basis. The principal, they say, is not at fault.

“You’re going to find that the mistakes they make up above are landing on the heads of my members,” said Ernest A. Logan, the council’s president. “This is a case in point.”

Let’s posit, as it is true, that Mr. Logan and his staff are intelligent advocates who often stand at the forefront of fighting the most unreasonable aspects of the Bloomberg Education Revolution. They offer a properly stout defense of their members. And they passed along internal department memos that indeed show education officials have turned a blind eye to special education violations, and have directed principals to make do in ways that skirt these regulations.

But those words — “inconsistent special education guidelines” — are a not-so-lovely euphemism for violating the rights of underserved children. Source

Superintendent Grenita Lathan being blamed for problems in San Diego Unified's special education program
Hope for parents whose children are tracked into special education
District 150 addressing discipline for disabled students School Board puts new policy on display after warnings from state

Question: Is distance a factor in giving out boundary waivers?

I have a friend who lives three (3) blocks from Von Stueben Middle School which is located on Forrest Hill Street (see map below). The only other schools around them are crime filled and failing miserably (Glen Oak School - 4 blocks away, Lincoln School - 5 blocks away), but the School District tells them they cannot attend Von Stueben they must attend Glen Oak or Lincoln.

Can somebody explain to me how it makes any sense that the boy in the photo above lives on the 1900 block of Garden Street and attends Von Steuben Middle School on Forrest Hill Street? Isn't he closer to the wonderful Trewyn, Lincoln, Calvin Collidge and/or Sterling? Von Stueben is 5.7 miles away from his home, well outside of the taxing district in which he resides. It makes me wonder if distance is taken into consideration when giving out boundary waivers.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

First African-American head coach in the history of Bradley University

PEORIA, Ill. -- The newest head coach in Bradley women's basketball history already has helped the program make history. Michael Brooks, a member of the Braves' staff for the program's first two postseason tournament appearances, has been named Bradley's eighth women's basketball head coach, according to an announcement Friday afternoon by Director of Athletics Dr. Michael Cross.

Brooks was an assistant coach at Bradley this past season. He was the team's Director of Operations in 2009-10.
"It is an honor to be chosen by President (Joanne) Glasser and Dr. Cross to lead this well-rounded group of student-athletes at such a pivotal time in the history of the program. The University has provided the program with every tool to be successful in the Renaissance Coliseum and in the ongoing improvements to the campus. My goal is to provide these young women with the tools necessary to become successful on the court and in their lives after basketball." – Michael Brooks -
In between his two years on the Bradley staff, Brooks was the women's basketball co-head coach at Central Methodist University during the 2010-11 season, managing all aspects of the varsity and junior varsity squads while specializing in defensive strategy and post play. He also served as an assistant coach for the Eagles during the 2008-09 and 2006-07 seasons.

A four-year football letter winner, Brooks began his coaching career on the gridiron in 2005 as an assistant coach at Quincy University. He first arrived at Central Methodist as a football assistant in 2006, coaching running backs and special teams, while also serving as the strength and conditioning coordinator, before transitioning into the women's basketball staff.

During his first year on the Central Methodist women's basketball staff, Brooks also coached the boys' and girls' track teams at Glasgow (Mo.) High School. During the 2007-08 season Brooks stepped away from collegiate basketball to work as an assistant coach for both the boys' and girls' basketball teams at Glasgow, while continuing to serve as the track and field head coach.

A native of Omaha, Neb., Brooks is married to the former Andi Sutherland, who was an assistant coach with the Braves during the 2004-05 season and served as the Director of Basketball Operations in 2003-04. The couple has a four-year old daughter: Britain.

Brooks replaces Paula Buscher, who resigned last month to become the head coach at SIU Edwardsville, and he begins his duties immediately.Source

Thursday, July 5, 2012

New label for angry teens: Intermittent Explosive Disorder

Research confirms the disparities in access to mental health services between African-American and white youth. African-Americans are consistently less likely than their white counterparts to seek out or receive mental health treatment. When it's time for school, schools are often left with the serious task of "diagnosing" what mental health/learning issues students may have.

The result of being diagnosed by schools, more often than not lead to students having Individual Education Plans (IEP). In my opinion a IEP is nothing more than a gerbil wheel; a tracking device that students never seem to shake. The IEP will follow them from K-12, it is a label that limits the student's ability to grow. Unfortunately, in more instances than not, schools push students with IEPs aside, while receiving federal dollars for their special education.

Now there is a new diagnosis for hard to deal with youth, Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED). I shudder to think what schools can and/or will do with this diagnosis. Is the IED diagnosis just another label, or is it something that could bring students who really need help closer to getting the necessary mental health care services?

The condition is characterised by persistent and uncontrollable anger attacks. A new study, based on a household survey of 10,148 young teenagers in the US, found that nearly two thirds had a history of anger attacks involving real or threatened violence.

It also found that one in 12 met strict criteria for a diagnosis of IED. Across the US, that would equate to almost six million individuals.

IED, recognised as an impulse control disorder, usually begins in late childhood and persists through the middle years of life.

To be diagnosed with IED, a person must at any time in life have had three episodes of ''grossly out of proportion'' impulsive aggressiveness.

For the new study, published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry, a more stringent definition of IED was used which ruled out other mental disorders contributing to angry outbursts.

The research also indicated that IED was not being properly treated. Although 37.8 per cent of teenagers with the disorder obtained treatment for emotional problems, only 6.5 per cent were specifically given help with anger management.

Lead researcher Professor Ronald Kessler, from Harvard Medical School in the US, said: ''If we can detect IED early and intervene with effective treatment right away, we can prevent a substantial amount of future violence perpetration and associated psychopathology.''

Monday, July 2, 2012

Getting to know your new PSD150 School Board President

Today Chris Crawford, who has been a member of the PSD150 School Board since 2010, ran for and won the seat of President to the Board, despite a reported busy schedule as a new father and full-time attorney...

Stuff gathered from other places about Chris Crawford:

  • He believes that the success of the Peoria community is tied to the success of its schools and is committed to seeing that all area children have access to a great education.
  • He is committed to see that the school district operates within its means.
  • He returned to Peoria five years ago from Chicago.
  • He has a 3-year-old daughter he wants to someday send to District 150.
  • He says the School Board and administration should have paid more attention to the process of shuttering Woodruff, but otherwise supported the end result.
  • "The district needed to close a high school. The decision has been made and it is time to move forward."
    • He wants more "shared sacrifice" toward balancing the budget, including reductions in administration.
    • As a board member he'd demand mid-year financial reporting so the board could intervene before the red ink gets out of hand.
    • He backs the charter school.
    • He is willing to experiment with choice educational models that compete for students.
    • He would champion a year-round calendar.
    • He'd spend available Public Building Commission dollars on air conditioning classrooms in older buildings as opposed to constructing new facilities.
    • He'd try to partner with ICC in offering vocational education opportunities to District 150 students.
    • He's intrigued by the peer review disciplinary process being used at Manual.
    • He is an attorney who represents employers and insurance companies across Illinois.
    • He especially enjoys the close working relationships he has built with numerous local employers, answering questions and addressing their concerns about workers’ compensation litigation.
    • He is recognized as a leader in the state’s legal community.
    • He was named one of the Rising Stars in Illinois by Super Lawyers magazine.
    • He is a member of the Peoria County Bar Association and Illinois State Bar Association.
    • He is on the board of the Pediatric Resource Center, a community service program of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria.
    • He is a Republican precinct committeeman.
    • He is a member of the Rotary Club of Peoria.
    • He is a native Peorian and graduate of Richwoods High School.
    • He practiced law in Chicago for eight years after graduating from law school before deciding to move back to his hometown in 2007.
    • His family members have been active leaders in the Peoria area for four generations.
    • He believes that Peoria is a great place to be because it is big enough to offer a wide array of challenges, but small enough that you feel like you can make a difference.
    • He feels an obligation to future generations to continue to make Peoria a great place to live.

    Crawford elected District 150 Board President for 2012-2013

    “The teachers are the backbone of this district. I look forward to listening to them and working with them."
    Chris Crawford (Source)

    Sunday, July 1, 2012

    UPDATED - District 150 Principals: Where are they now?

    How many Principals can you match up with their school for the 2012-2013 school year. To date, the rumor about a new principal from North Carolina is just that a rumor. (click image to enlarge)

    1. Manual Sr. High School
    2. Peoria High School
    3. Richwoods High School
    4. Calvin Coolidge Middle School
    5. Lindbergh Middle School
    6. Columbia Middle School
    7. Lincoln Middle School
    8. Mark Bills Middle School
    9. Rolling Acres Middle School
    10. Sterling Middle School
    11. Trewyn Middle School
    12. Von Stueben Middle School
    13. Washington Gifted Middle School
    14. Charter Oak Primary
    15. Franklin Primary
    16. Garfield Primary
    17. Harrison Primary
    18. Hines Primary
    19. Irving Primary
    20. Kellar Primary
    21. Northmor Primary
    22. Thomas Jefferson Primary
    23. Whittier Primary
    24. Woodrow Wilson Primary
    25. Developmental Center & Jamison School
    26. Woodruff Career and Technical Center
    27. Knoxville Center for Student Success
    28. Roosevelt Magnet
    29. Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Ed. Center
    30. Quest Charter Academy