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News

Civil Asset Forfeiture Critics Complain Innocent People Pay

Illinois Issues, February 16, 2017 — The police took away a 70-year-old Moline woman’s car when her grandson drove it with a revoked license. “Why am I being punished?” Judy Wiese asked a reporter last year at the Rock Island County courthouse. After the story made headlines, a lawyer stepped forward and helped her out, pro bono — and the grandmother got her Jeep back. “There’s no way you can’t hear those stories and think something’s wrong with the system,” says Rep. Will Guzzardi, a Chicago Democrat, who has introduced a bill in the Illinois House that would overhaul the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws. Read the article and hear the Illinois Public Radio story at Illinois Issues.

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News

Election Night 2016

Letter from Chicago: Misery engulfed Clinton supporters as outcome became clear

London Evening Standard, November 9, 2016 — In this overwhelmingly Democratic city, many of the people who’d gathered in downtown bars to watch election results grew sullen and angry as the night went on. “How is it close?” asked Rachael Smith, a DePaul University student wearing a T-shirt labeled “The Future is Female,” as she watched the TVs in the historic Miller’s Pub in the Loop. Read the rest of the article at the London Evening Standard.

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News

Chicago Readers’s Best Chicagoan to follow on Twitter

Chicago Reader, June 23, 2016 — I’m honored to be named the “Best Chicagoan to follow on Twitter” in the Chicago Reader’s 2016 poll for the Best of Chicago. My Twitter handle is @robertloerzel.

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News

State budget impasse hits homeless youths

Illinois Issues, December 17, 2015 — The state budget impasse could put more young people out on the streets this winter.  Read the story — and hear a WUIS interview with me about my reporting.

Photo: From The Homestretch, Kartemquin Films

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News

Urban Flooding in Illinois

Illinois Issues magazine, September 10, 2015 — Heavier rainfalls and sprawling development have left outdated sewers struggling to keep water out of streets, businesses and homes. Big rainstorms are hitting Illinois more often. In many cities and towns, the sewers can’t always handle heavy downpours. Without anywhere to go, the water fills streets, yards and basements. The result? At least $2.3 billion in damage from 2007 to 2014. That’s the total that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources calculated in a report this summer, tallying up insurance payouts for flooding damage in the state’s urban areas. And the report warned that the problem could get worse. Read more at the Illinois Issues website — including audio of my interview with Illinois Issues editor Jamey Dunn about the story.

Photo: Center for Neighborhood Technology

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News

Environmental threats shrink the numbers of Illinois’ beloved state insect, the monarch butterfly

Illinois Issues magazine, July-August 2014 — Urbana resident Alex Wild kept an eye out for monarch butterflies last year. He was alarmed by what he saw. Or rather, what he didn’t see. “I saw two the entire season,” says Wild, a biologist and photographer who specializes in taking close-up pictures of insects. “That was it — and I was looking for them.” Read my story in Illinois Issues.

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News

How the World Media Covers Chicago

Chicago magazine, September 24, 2013 — The international press definitely knows Chicago is a violent American city (where you can also shop and eat). Of course, some details get lost in translation… Read my story for Chicago magazine.

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News

Chicago’s Flag Is a Much Bigger Deal Than Any Other City’s Flag

Chicago magazine, August 22, 2013 — Chicago’s flag flies from front porches all over town. It’s seen on T-shirts—and in tattoos. Does the flag matter so much (or look so good) in any other American city? Read my story for Chicago magazine.

Chicago Tribune photo by Alex Garcia

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News

Emanuel’s gun proposal harks back to Richard J. Daley

The Huffington Post, February 13, 2012 — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says Illinois should have a statewide gun registry. As the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times reported, his plan is likely to run into much resistance. Emanuel’s idea isn’t new… Read my blog post for the Huffington Post. 

Photo by Augustas Didžgalvis/Wikipedia

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History News

When another Senate seat was up for sale

The Huffington Post, February 6, 2009 — A hundred years ago, political tensions were running high in Illinois. Everyone wanted to know the answer to one suspenseful question: Who would be the new U.S. Senator from Illinois?

The struggle to answer that question would stretch on for four years, as charges of bribery and corruption rocked Springfield and Washington. It seemed that a U.S. Senate seat was up for sale. The resulting scandal continues to echo a century later, as Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich faces charges of putting a price on the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. Read my story at the Huffington Post.

Photo of William Lorimer: Wikipedia