Memorial Day Weekend: Fun for everyone

May 27, 2011 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Beer, Entertainment, Fitness, Memorial Day, Music, Sports & Entertainment, Summer

What will you do with your three-day weekend?

Chicago has so many events, it may be hard to decide!

Friday, May 27

  • Prost! German Beers of Chicago
    • What? A trolley pub crawl hosted by the Chicago History Museum
    • When? May 27, 6 – 9 p.m.
    • Where? The tour will visit several of the best bierstubes in Chicago
    • Highlights include:
      • History lessons while drinking beer
      • Drink specials
    • More information:
  • Nerds at Heart’s Holidate
    • What? A singles bash
    • When? May 27, 7 p.m.
    • Where? Hidden Shamrock
    • Highlights include:
      • Board games and trivia
      • Ice cream tasting
      • Beach-reading giveaways
    • More information:
  • Red, White & Bar-B-Q
    • What? A BBQ competition
    • When? May 27, 28 and 29
    • Where? Ty Warner Park in Westmont, Ill.
    • Highlights include:
      • Three days of free live music
      • Chili-tasting contest
      • Cooking demonstrations
    • More information:
  • Cubs games
    • What? A baseball game against the Pirates (May 27, 28, 29) or the Astros (May 30)
    • When? May 27, 28, 29 and 30
    • Where? Wrigley Field
    • Highlights include:
      • Free T-shirts for the first 10,000 fans on Memorial Day
    • More information:

Saturday, May 28

  • Soldier Field 10 mile
    • What? A 10-mile race
    • When May 28, 7:30 a.m.
    • Soldier Field
    • Highlights include:
      • A race shirt and goody bag
      • Finish on the 50-yard line
      • The Hut-Hut Hike, a non-competitive walk
    • More information:
  • Yoga at the Lincoln Park Zoo
    • What? Outdoor yoga at the zoo
    • When? May 28, 9 – 10 a.m.
    • Where? Lincoln Park Zoo
    • Highlights include:
      • A view of the city skyline
      • An opportunity to learn the basics of yoga
      • Connection with nature
    • More information:
  • Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival
    • What? A music festival with entertainment, arts, crafts and food
    • When? May 28 and 29
    • Where? N. Sheffield between Belmont and School
    • Highlights include:
      • Ten bands in two days
    • More information:
  • Memorial Day Parade
    • What? A parade to honor those serving and those who have served
    • When? May 28, noon
    • Where? State St. from Lake St. to Van Buren
    • Highlights include:
      • A free celebration
      • One of the largest Memorial Day parades in the nation
    • More information:
  • Green City Market
    • What? An outdoor food market
    • When? May 28
    • Where? Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton Drive
    • Highlights include:
      • Products from local farmers
      • A cooking demonstration by Tim Cottini of Cafe Ba Ba Reeba
    • More information:
  • Navy Pier Fireworks
    • What? Fireworks fun
    • When? May 28, 10:15 p.m.
    • Where? Navy Pier
    • Highlights include:
      • Music by B96
      • Proximity to restaurants, shopping and Lake Michigan
    • More information:

Sunday, May 29

  • Bike the Drive
    • What? A 30-mile bike ride
    • When? May 29, 5:30 – 9:30 a.m.
    • Where? Lake Shore Drive
    • Highlights include:
      • A car-free bike ride
      • A festival from 8 a.m. – noon
      • Fruit, water and snacks at rest stops
    • More information:
  • Boozehounds
    • What? A chance to enjoy a drink while your dog plays and enjoys treats
    • When? May 29, 1 – 4 p.m.
    • Where? Uptown Lounge
    • Highlights include:
      • Drink specials
      • Socializing with friends and pooches
    • More information:

Monday, May 30

  • New Music Monday
    • What? A concert in the park
    • When? May 30
    • Where? Millennium Park
    • Highlights include:
      • Justin Townes Earle
      • Andre Williams and the Goldstars
      • A chance to discover new music
    • More information:


Summer Movies 2011: More superheroes and sequels

May 27, 2011 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Entertainment, Movies, Summer

It’s that time of year again. Provided Chicago finally decides to stay warm, there’s a good chance you’ll be seeking refuge from the summer heat at a local movie theater near you. Here’s a list of some of the films you can enjoy while you’re there, including a couple of the requisite comic book movies (X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern), a handful of sequels (Transformers 3, The Hangover 2) and some other movie about a wizard named Harry that you’ve probably never heard of.

Check out the timeline to find out when the movies you’re looking forward to are coming out, including movies playing outdoors as part of Chicago’s Movies in the Parks series.

The Potential Blockbusters

The Hangover 2

The Wolfpack’s back for another adventure, this time in Bangkok, Thailand. Ed Helms, Zach Galifanakis, Bradley Cooper and Community’s Ken Jeong return. May 27

X-Men: First Class

Meet archenemies Professor X and Magneto before they were enemies. Set in the early 60s, X-Men: First Class follows Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Micahel Fassbender, playing young Magneto) as they start a school for humans with special abilities. Directed by Matthew Vaughn, also starring Jennifer Lawrence. June 3

Super 8

Strange incidents and disappearances occur after a train crashes in a small Ohio town during the summer of 1979. Kyle Chandler plays a local Deputy trying to uncover the truth behind the unusual events. Directed by Star Trek and Lost’s J.J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg, Super 8’s likely a must see for sci-fi fans. June 10

Green Lantern

Ryan Reynolds stars as Hal Jordan, a test pilot turned superhero. The film also stars Blake Lively and Peter Sarsgaard. June 17

Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon

The Autobots and Decepticons face off again in a race to find a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the moon that could help both sides win their epic battle. Shia LaBeouf and Tyrese Gibson return, but fans may be sad to see Megan Fox replaced by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Sam’s new love interest. Other new additions include Patrick Dempsey, Alan Tudyk, John Malkovich and Frances McDormand. July 1

Fun fact: Transformers 3 was filmed mostly in Chicago.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Harry, Ron and Hermione return to Hogwarts for the final battle against Lord Voldemort. July 15

Captain America: The First Avenger

Starring Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving and Tommy Lee Jones. July 22

Cowboys and Aliens

Pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Directed by Jon Favreau and starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde. July 29

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Scientist James Franco experiments on a chimp named Caesar while trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. Human vs. ape war ensues. Also stars Andy Serkis and Slumdog Millionaire’s Freida Pinto. August 5

For the Kids

Kung Fu Panda 2

Po’s awesome new life as The Dragon Warrior is threatened by a villain hellbent on destroying kung fu. Starring Jack Black, Angelina Jolie and Jackie Chan. May 27

Cars 2

Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy return racecar Lightning McQueen and truck Mater as they race through Europe and Asia while competing in the World Grand Prix. Also stars Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer as British spies Finn McMissile and Holley Shiftwell. June 18

Winnie the Pooh

Join Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet, Owl, Kanga, Roo, Eeyore and Christopher Robin for a bit of childhood nostalgia. Starring John Cleese, Craig Ferguson and Zooey Deschanel. July 15

The Smurfs

Smurfs take Manhattan after being booted out of their village by an evil wizard. Starring Hank Azaria, Katy Perry and Jonathan Winters. July 29

The Comedies

Mr. Popper’s Penquins

Jim Carrey stars as a businessman who’s life completely changes when he inherits six penguins. Also stars Carla Gugino and Angela Lansbury. June 17

Larry Crowne

Tom Hanks directs and stars as a middle-aged man who goes back to college after losing his job. Julie Roberts and Bryan Cranston also star.

Horrible Bosses

Jason Bateman, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Charlie Day and SNL’s Jason Sudeikis star as three friends who plan to murder their ‘horrible bosses’ to improve their lives. Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey star as the three bosses. July 8

Friends With Benefits

Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake star in a movie that seems suspiciously similar to the recent Natalie Portman/Ashton Kusher movie, No Strings Attached. July 22

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Starring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Julianne Moore. Gosling plays suave wingman to newly single Carell.

30 Minutes or Less

Starring Jesse Eisenberg as a delivery guy kidnapped and forced to help two criminals (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson) rob a bank… with a bomb strapped to his chest. Also stars Parks and Recreation’s Aziz Ansari. August 12

Fright Night

Star Trek’s Anton Yelchin stars as a teen who suspects his neighbor (Colin Farrell) is a vampire in this remake of the 1985 original. Also stars Doctor Who’s David Tennant. August 19

Our Idiot Brother

Starring Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, and Rashida Jones. August 26

The Dramas

The Tree of Life

Tells the story of Jack (Sean Penn), his life growing up in 1950s Midwest and his tumultuous relationship with his father. Directed by the Terrence Malick, IMDB calls this film “a true event” for cinephiles and fans of the reclusive Malick. Also starring Brad Pitt and celebrated Jessica Chastain, The Tree of Life could be a good alternative to the standard action and comedy fare. May 27 (limited release)


Starring Ewan McGregor, Mélanie Laurent and Christopher Plummer and directed by Mike Mills in his first film since 2005’s Thumbsucker. June 3

The Help

Based on the bestselling novel, stars Emma Stone as an aspiring writer who befriends two African American maids (Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer) in 1960s Mississippi.

The History of Memorial Day: Why we celebrate

May 27, 2011 by     Comments Off    Posted under: History, Memorial Day, Summer

Lakeview Mayfest: Ghost of summerfests to come

May 27, 2011 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Beer, Entertainment, Summer

Chicago summer music: Concerts, festivals for everyone

May 27, 2011 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Entertainment, Music, Summer

Wanna see the whole timeline — YouTube clips and all? Click the link above to go to Dipity.


From big festivals to small club shows, summer is the time for music in Chicago. We preview 18 of these must-see events.

Glee Live!
June 4
The fictional McKinley High School glee club may not have placed at nationals in New York City this year, but they got a pretty good summer gig: a multi-city tour. This brand extension of the hit TV show features live performances by favorite faux-teens Lea Michele (Rachel Berry), Cory Monteith (Finn Hudson), Amber Riley (Mercedes Jones) and more. With all the outrageous costuming (remember those Lady Gaga get-ups?), intense dancing and big voices of the TV show accented by thousands of screaming fans, this fills the void until new episodes resume in the fall. Tickets from $40.
Location: Allstate Arena, 6920 Mannheim Road, Rosemont
For more information:

June 7-8
The indie/folk jam band shocked fans when it announced with much fanfare on Jan. 1 that it would be putting out a new album and touring again after breaking up in 2004. Although there had been a couple reunion gigs, none were as extensive as this 10-city tour featuring new material from their Dispatch EP released May 17.  The band performed their first new single “Melon Bend” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last month. Although tickets to their June 8 show at Millennium Park are sold out, tickets are still available to their show at the UIC Pavilion June 7 for $50.
Location: UIC Pavilion, 525 South Racine Avenue, Chicago
For more information:

Kenny Chesney
June 9
With the go-to country music show of every summer, this road warrior’s live chops aren’t just fan voted: He won the Billboard Touring Award for top package event for four consecutive years. This year’s Goin’ Coastal Tour will undoubtedly feature breezy favorites like “Beer in Mexico,” “When the Sun Goes Down” and “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem.” Chesney is also supporting his latest album Hemingway’s Whiskey, released in September — and if fans are lucky, maybe he’ll preview some new material from the yet-unnamed album he’s reportedly recording. If you think his tractor’s sexy, tickets are available from $46.
Location: Toyota Park, 7000 S. Harlem, Bridgeview
For more information:

Chicago Blues Fest
June 10-12
The largest free blues festival in the world is right in your backyard. Across three days and five stages, Chicagoans can see the best of the genre, including Eddie Cotton, Carl Weathersby, Billy Branch, Dave Specter Band and Shemekia Copeland (daughter of Grammy winner Johnny Copeland). The final show of the festival is a 40th anniversary tribute to Alligator Records, the Chicago label that produced such greats as Copeland and fellow Grammy winner Clifton Chenier. Admission is free.
Location: Multiple locations, Chicago
For more information: Explore Chicago

June 15
Her music has become decidedly more, erm, mature since her 2010 album Loud (though songs “What’s My Name” and the coyly titled “S&M” have achieved peak saturation on Top 40 radio) but her shows attract young and old alike to the mix of sing-along-worthy hits and highly choreographed dance numbers. B.o.B. and J.Cole open, making this the R&B tour of the summer.  Tickets from $30.
Location: United Center, 1901 W. Madison Street, Chicago
For more information:

Florence + The Machine
June 18
British phenom Florence Welch and her band are taking the nation by storm after she performed at the Oscars, Grammys and MTV’s Video Music Awards. Music from her debut album Lungs has appeared on Grey’s Anatomy and Gossip Girl. Doors open at 7 p.m. for opener Hanni El Khatib. Tickets are $36.
Location: Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago
For more information:

Beady Eye
June 18
You may not have heard of Beady Eye, but you’ve probably heard of Oasis. And that’s basically who this band is. Formed in 2009 when Noel Gallagher left Oasis, this group still has guitarist Andy Bell and “the voice,” Liam Gallagher. Their first album Different gear, still speeding came out this spring, produced by the iconic Steve Lillywhite, the man behind much of the Dave Matthews Band’s and Peter Gabriel’s work.  An added bonus of seeing this band would be their haunting rendition of The Beatles’ “Across the Universe.” Tickets are sold out, but StubHub has them available for $65 and up.
Location: Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., Chicago
For more information:

Matt & Kim
June 25-26
If you don’t think that a band can include just a drummer and a keyboardist, then you haven’t seen Matt & Kim. The Brooklyn duo produces music that is easy for dancing, driving, singing and just plain having a good time. They were at Lollapalooza last summer, but this visit to Chicago will provide a much more intimate setting at The Vic. They’ll likely play hits “Daylight” and “Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare” (both of which have appeared on several TV shows, including Entourage and Community) but they’re touring in support of their latest record Sidewalks. Instant classics “AM/FM Sound” and “Cameras” will have you bopping your head in no time. Although tickets are sold out to Saturday’s show, Sunday’s show has tickets available for $24.
Location: The Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield Ave., Chicago
For more information:

Dave Matthews Band Caravan
July 8-10
This three-day festival is only hitting a handful of U.S. cities, and Chicago is one of the lucky few. The Top 40 jam band will headline each day with other headline-worthy artists including O.A.R., Ray LaMontagne, Kid Cudi, Ben Folds, The Flaming Lips and Chicago native Liz Phair. Tickets are $85 a day or $195 for all three days.
Location: Lakeside, 8555 S. Green Bay Ave., Chicago
For more information:

Britney Spears with Nicki Minaj
July 8
Say what you will about the aging pop star and her train wreck turn detailed ad nauseum in the gossip mags, Ms. Spears can still put on a helluva show. Her 2009 Circus tour sold out, and new album Femme Fatale released in March spawned the Billboard chart-topping auto-tuned sensation “Hold It Against Me.” This tour will be a little a different, or at least the music will. As Spears told People, “We’ve remixed each number.” She also added a girl-power vibe by adding crazy-haired rapper Minaj. Tickets from $40.
Location: United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., Chicago
For more information:

Vans Warped Tour
July 9
Approaching its 20th year, the punk extravaganza features five dozen bands, including Unwritten Law, The Devil Wears Prada, Simple Plan, Relient K, August Burns Red and local alt-electronica rockers Madina Lake, performing on 10 stages. Tickets from $45.
Location: Tinley Park
For more information:

Josh Groban
July 13
If you’re one of the thousands who took advantage of the iTunes and Facebook free download of his song “Hidden Away” last fall, you probably couldn’t stop listening to the man who single-handedly made opera both trendy and sexy. Groban’s Straight to You Tour will play up his album Illuminations, released in November. He’s one of Oprah’s favorite things (he appeared at her farewell show), and if he’s also one of yours, you won’t want to miss this show. Tickets from $65.50.
Location: United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., Chicago
For more information:

Pitchfork Music Festival
July 15-17
This Chicago summer classic returns for its sixth year with major acts like Animal Collective, Fleet Foxes, The Dismemberment Plan and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. Chicago is the only city to host these three days of up-and-coming and established alternative acts. Tickets are $45 per day. While three-day passes are sold out, StubHub has them starting at $140.
Location: Union Park ,1501 W. Randolph, Chicago
For more information:

American Idols Live!
Aug. 6
Long before Glee thought to go live, there was American Idol Live! taking no-name kids with big voices and putting them in front of a ravenous reality TV-addicted audience to turn their newfound star power into profits. Season 10’s top 11 contestants will appear at this show, which usually sells out. Now that the votes are all in, this live event will let fans decide for themselves if winner Scotty McCreery and runner up Lauren Alaina are truly an item (maybe they’ll recreate that was it/wasn’t it kiss moment from the finale!), and if Pia Toscano really is the one who should have won it all. Also featured is hometown girl Haley Reinhart. Tickets from $57.
Location: Allstate Arena, 6920 Mannheim Road, Rosemont
For more information: American Idol Season 10 Tour

Aug. 5-7
Billed as Lolla’s 20th anniversary (though it ceased to exist for about six years in there), Chicago becomes a tourism hot-spot for this three day festival packed with super-sized artists. Headliners include Eminem, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Muse and My Morning Jacket. Other major names include Sleigh Bells and Flogging Molly. Swedish darling Lykke Li will also make a return to the city after her sold-out show at Metro in May. Three-day passes are $215.
Location: Grant Park, Chicago
For more information:

Taylor Swift
Aug. 9-10
Admit it: You can’t turn off this golden-locked angel of pop country when she comes on the radio again and again and again. The 21-year-old’s voice may sound like that of an underaged novice, but her original music (most of it is self-written) and her message of empowerment resonate with fans of all ages. The Speak Now World Tour, in support of the album of the same name, will stop in Chicago for two days. The tour is sold out, but tickets are available on StubHub starting at $50.
Location: Allstate Arena, 6920 Mannheim Road, Rosemont
For more information:

The Hold Steady
Aug. 25
These indie rockers may be from New York, but they do have a Chicago connection: their song “Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night.” Although they’ve recently become a quartet after the exit of their keyboardist, their music hasn’t changed much. While they don’t have a large mainstream following, they have appeared on The Colbert Report. Doors open at 8 p.m. for opener The Donkeys. Tickets $25.
Location: Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., Chicago
For more information:

Chicago Jazz Festival
Sept. 1-4
For 33 years, this event has marked the end of summer festival season in Chicago, with four days of the nation’s best jazz artists at three different locations. This year’s weekend closing acts are singer-songwriter Cassandra Wilson on Saturday ,and Grammy-winning trumpeter Roy Hargrove on Sunday. Also playing are sax players Ravi Coltrane (son of John Coltrane) and Joe Lovano. Admission is free.
Location: Multiple locations, Chicago
For more information: Chicago Jazz Festival on Explore Chicago

Five easy baseball road trips

May 27, 2011 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Uncategorized

Milwaukee Brewers:

Cheese, beers, Brewers. A summertime classic. Miller Park has the feel of a traditional stadium while sporting a retractable dome, so even if the weather goes south, your 90-mile road trip won’t be wasted.

Unfortunately, the Cubs don’t travel to Milwaukee until after the All-Star Break (July 26-28), but the Brewers will host the Cardinals from June 10-12, and that match up is equally heated.

After the game, head downtown and try out the Lakefront Brewery, 1872 Commerce St.


St. Louis Cardinals:

There’s nothing Cubs fans like more than giving the Cards a good shellacking at Wrigley, so why not hit them at home?  You’ll need a little more time, though, because Busch Stadium is roughly five hours away by car.

Just make it into a long weekend. The Cubs travel to St. Louis June 3-5.

While you’re there, check out the Smokehouse Market and Annie Gunn’s or Franco.


Kansas City Royals:

If you’re not done after a weekend in St. Louis, head west. Four hours later, you’ll be in Kansas City and you can catch a Royals game.

And if you don’t really care about the Royals, head over to Wild Bill’s Legendary Steakhouse and Saloon. It’s an experience in itself.


The Field of Dreams:

Iowa doesn’t have Major League Baseball, but you can always visit the field where the Field of Dreams was filmed. The Field of Dreams is in Dyersville Iowa, and it’s open from April 1 through Nov. 30 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Keep an eye out for the ghost of Shoeless Joe.


Kane County Cougars:

If you don’t have time to get away for the whole weekend, or if you’re in a budget pinch, check out the Kane County Cougars. Just 35 miles away in West Chicago, Elfstrom Stadium is a great place to take the kids, and it’s affordable:  Lawn seats are only $8.

Plus, you get to be right down in the action, and the players are always willing to sign autographs for the kids.


New faces, same old scandals

May 20, 2011 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Politics, Politics (Non Front Menu), Rahm Emanuel, Rod Blagojevich, Uncategorized

A fresh era of Chicago politics dawned this week with new city council members, new department heads and a new mayor.

But this is the City of Big Shoulders and bigger scandals. Changing careers or moving to Chicago from places afar doesn’t mean the past has passed. Just ask these five officials.

Click each photo to view YouTube interviews with the official. Click the red text to read related news articles.

Rahm Emanuel — Mayor

Chicago’s 55th mayor may have rock star celebrity and a winning mix of national credentials and local connections, but he also has his share of noteworthy scandals in the past.

Emanuel served from 2000-2001 on the board of Freddie Mac, the federal mortgage firm embroiled in the housing meltdown. The Securities and Exchange Commission later said the firm misreported profits during that period, according to ABC News. Emanuel was not named in the SEC investigation. Emanuel made more than $300,000 on the job, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Emanuel’s sometimes abrasive personality and his encyclopedic knowledge of four-letter words have not always earned him fans. After calling a group of liberal Democrats “retarded” (in conjunction with one of his signature f-bombs) in 2010, he later apologized to the head of the Special Olympics.

But perhaps it is what Emanuel won’t say that has driven the most speculation.  His relationship with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the scandal to sell Obama’s senate seat remains unknown.

Garry McCarthy — Superintendent of Police

The former NYPD cop reportedly came highly recommended to Emanuel, although McCarthy’s troubles were no secret. In fact, some of them were laid out in reality TV docudrama Brick City, which aired on the Sundance Channel.

Recently it has been reported in the Chicago press that the Newark (N.J.) Police Department, where McCarthy was formerly director, is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for civil rights violations that allegedly occurred over several years. According to the Chicago Tribune, most of the incidents predate McCarthy’s tenure, which began in 2006. The allegations, which include use of excessive force and unreasonable search and seizure, led the American Civil Liberties Union to file a complaint and request for federal oversight of the department.

This year the Newark Anti-Violence Coalition led dozens of civil disobedience protests to point out violence among minorities and to call for the firing of McCarthy. At the same time, Newark’s police union voted “no confidence” in McCarthy’s leadership over disagreements about officer layoffs and demotions. He did, however, retain the support of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who said McCarthy had the “ability to excel and succeed in very difficult times.” Booker credited his former police director with “bringing down crime” in the city.

It was a rocky year for the veteran officer. In January 2010, McCarthy publicly admitted errors on the part of his department when the body of a bystander killed in a shooting was not discovered until a day into the investigation. McCarthy said policies were not followed and vowed to discipline those responsible.

Off the job, McCarthy hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2005, he and his wife were arrested after a confrontation with officers issuing a parking ticket to his daughters at a New Jersey rest stop. He was charged with illegally obstructing traffic and fined. McCarthy maintained that the other officers involved lied.

Perhaps his biggest challenge is that McCarthy joins the Chicago Police Department as an outsider after several high-ranking officials had speculated that Emanuel would choose from within the force. The insider-outsider debate rankled officers during former Superintendent Jody Weis’ tenure. Weis took the job after leaving the FBI.

Jean-Claude Brizard  — Incoming CEO of Chicago Public Schools

Although he hasn’t been sworn into office yet – that could come at the May 25 school board meeting – he’s already on the job and his infamy precedes him.

As superintendent of the Rochester, N.Y. schools, Brizard had a contentious relationship with those around him. The Rochester Teachers Association collected grievances based on increased staff layoffs, decreased student suspensions and Brizard’s push for a longer school year. Eventually the union voted “no confidence” in his leadership.

Parents joined teachers in their complaints that Brizard left them in the dark in deciding to close schools in the district. They also accused him of favoring privatization. Although he had no control over charter schools in his position, his wife was a charter school administrator.

Brizard was also involved in two federal lawsuits, one of them regarding the firing of an elderly teacher who claimed age discrimination and the other for questionable punitive tactics.  That case regarded the use of “rubber rooms” (immortalized in a “Law & Order” episode) for staff facing disciplinary action. They were placed on paid administrative leave and reported to what were essentially off-campus study halls until their cases were heard. After multiple union grievances, the practice has subsided, a union rep told the Tribune.

Chicago teachers union members complained that Emanuel did not examine the lawsuits closely enough in considering Brizard for the CPS position.

In April, with rumors swirling he was leaving Rochester, Brizard was out of touch with his school board, according to Rochester’s Democrat & Chronicle, leaving some members to say they felt “betrayed” and accuse him of bailing.  He left the Rochester schools nearly $80 million in debt and with half of the schools failing, the Tribune reported.

Matthew O’Shea — 19th Ward Alderman

Although a newcomer to City Council, O’Shea is no stranger to Chicago politics. Formerly a Democratic Ward Committeeman and administrator at the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, O’Shea has seen the seamier side of the electoral process.

In 2010, the Tribune’s Clout Street blog pointed out O’Shea drew a $29,000 salary in the first half of 2009 from then Ald. Virginia Rugai for his role as committeeman, circumventing the city’s political hiring ban. Typically a committeeman who is not an elected official is an unpaid political advocate, although O’Shea listed his job title as aide to the alderman.

In adding to Chicago’s storied rough-and-tumble campaign history, O’Shea was accused of playing dirty politics for allegedly masterminding a mailer from the Democratic committee that accused a fellow Democratic candidate of not voting for Obama. The opponent said the mailing targeted black voters. O’Shea’s rep denied that in an interview with The SouthtownStar, but did not deny sending the item.

And in the kind of squabbles that embroil local candidates, O’Shea was targeted on election night for hosting a celebratory party outside city limits. His reps called the complaints “silly,” though they irked several other candidates.

Debra Silverstein — 50th Ward Alderman

The councilwoman is coming straight from the private sector, where she is an accountant, but she has the backing of a close political ally: her husband, state Sen. Ira Silverstein. According to WBEZ, that had some residents wondering: How much power is too much in one household?

Unseating long-time Ald. Bernie Stone was no easy feat, and the battle put Silverstein in the trenches. Silverstein accused Stone of running a shadow campaign committee (it’s against election rules to have more than one committee) to smear her and Stone countered that Silverstein was an ageist “housewife” whose campaign was masterminded by her husband.

After Jewish Chicago, a local publication, attacked the Silverstein family realty business and Silverstein’s appearance, the couple threatened legal action against the publisher for defamation, the Chicago News-Star reported.

Chicago citizens welcome a new mayor

May 20, 2011 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Current, Politics, Politics (Non Front Menu), Rahm Emanuel