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West Side tour covers communities of North Lawndale, Austin, West Garfield Park and East Garfield Park

(CHICAGO) – July 5, 2018 –Mayoral candidate Dorothy Brown will host her third “Listening Tour” event on the West side of Chicago on July 10th at  United For Better Living, 4540 W. Washington Blvd.  As with her past two events the afternoon will begin at 4:00 pm with a walk through the neighborhood to introduce herself to the community and invite them to attend the session.   The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and cover the Westside communities of North Lawndale, Austin, West Garfield Park, East Garfield Park.

Recent news reports have outlined struggles facing some West Side residents including an inordinate number of deaths from opioid overdoses as reported by WBEZ.  According to the report  since 2015, 10 people have fatally overdosed at the JR Plaza Hotel, according to city data.  Also, on the agenda, as it has been in some previous meetings, is the issue of violence in the community, employment, housing  and economic development.  Candidate Brown has spoken out against the current implementation of the city’s Affordable Residence Ordinance (ARO) and expects to hear more about that at the meeting.

As during past events, the candidate will share her personal story of growing up in a rural and impoverished  environment in the state of Louisiana to eventually leading one of the largest county governmental court records system in the country.   The resounding theme of Brown’s campaign is to be the mayor for all of Chicago.

The ‘Listening Tours’ will continue through the summer with the next event scheduled for July 17th,  at Saint Luke Church of God in Christ, 914 N. Orleans Street, to hear from residents on the Near Northside, the Loop, North Center, Lake View, Logan Square, Lincoln Park, and Avondale.  Brown will also walk around these communities, starting at 4 p.m., and invite people to attend the session.

For those who cannot attend in person, you can visit to share your thoughts.  A full “Listening Tour” schedule is included on the website.

For more information on Dorothy Brown’s campaign, visit her website at You can also follow the campaign on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, @dorothyformayor.  Join the conversation using #Hope4AllChicago, #ListeningTour. You may also contribute to the campaign using Text2Give – ChicagoHope to 444999.


HUD/CHA residents benefit from new Section 3 resident initiatives

Hood Construction, Inc and Community Section 3 Construction benefit from CHA’s JOC Program

Hood Construction, Inc. is owned by Dennis Hood, a current Chicago Housing Authority, (CHA) resident and Community Section 3 Construction is owned by Paul McKinley, both have successfully advocated for, and now participating in jobs and contracts for CHA residents under the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Section 3 program.

Hood Construction, Inc. and Community Section 3 Construction are listed among the 103 companies in the Job Order Contracting (JOC) program. The goal of the JOC program is to foster a partnering atmosphere by increasing Section 3 Business Concern participation and providing the opportunity to perform progressively complex and higher valued projects. Contractors are expected to consistently perform at a high level of performance quality on all assigned projects, according to CHA. For more information on the JOC program go to

With steel toe boots and hard hat, North Lawndale Community News (NLCN) went to the job site of the two subcontractors, Hood and McKinley at the Julia C. Lathrop Homes Redevelopment project at 2900 N. Leavitt to see the contractors and their workers performance. They were in the middle of a gut rehab of several buildings of the Lathrop Homes subcontracted under Land Lease and Related Midwest.
Situated between the Bucktown and Roscoe Village neighborhoods, Lathrop is a 34-acre site bordered by the Chicago River, Diversey Parkway, and Clybourn and Damen streets. The redeveloped Lathrop will be a mixed-income, mixed-use community that will include public, affordable and market-rate housing along with significant green and open space.

HUD’s Section 3 program was first initiated in 1968 by Congress under President Lyndon B. Johnson. Section 3 is a way by which HUD fosters local economic development, neighborhood economic improvement, and individual self-sufficiency. It’s the legal basis for providing jobs for residents and awarding contracts to businesses in areas receiving certain types of HUD financial assistance. Under Section 3 of the HUD Act of 1968, wherever HUD financial assistance is expended for housing or community development, to the greatest extent feasible, economic opportunities will be given to Section 3 residents and businesses in that area, according to HUD’s website.

This legal Act has been largely ignored for decades, retarding or killing the economic opportunities that it was designed to produce until many others like Dennis Hood, Paul McKinley, Mark Carter and Grady Norwood protested and debated for improvement, change, and actual realization of the promises of Section 3. See 45 second video at ( Mr. Hood also secured support from Congressman Danny Davis (7th District) and James Hill, Public Service Administrator at Illinois Secretary of State.

The Lathrop Homes was the first project built in Chicago. It was started in 1937 and completed in 1938. Since then, the project has deteriorated greatly and needed renovation to the extent that some units were uninhabitable (See view from the inside video at (
With expenditures reaching over 1,162 billion U.S. dollars, the United States is the one of the largest construction markets worldwide. The local construction industry has shifted into a higher gear as new residential towers keep coming out of the ground. Construction firms have been on track with an estimated $14.3 billion in residential and commercial projects in the Chicago area.

James Hill outside of his normal work hours for the State of Illinois Department of Human Services – was instrumental in helping Dennis Hood in developing his back office or financial side the of his company without pay.

Mr. Hill has a background in he as BA in Economics in Business from Morehouse College. He is also an entrepreneur and has worked for the Mayor’s office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Along with being the President of the National Black Agenda Consortium.

Part of his passion is economic and job development in the African-American Community. “With hood starting his own CHA resident owned company to go in the construction area, I thought it was just a real opportunity for the community as a whole for Hood in Job development and to see that its successful was very important to me. That is why I do whatever I can in terms of helping to advise and to keep him on the straight and narrow,” said Hill.

Eugene Jones Jr. , the CEO of CHA has  been instrumental in the success of the JOC program. Based on his living in CHA for sixty years as resident Dennis Hood stated, “Eugene Jones is the best I have ever seen.” Jones is directly responsible for implementing CHA’s extensive redevelopment program. “Eugene took CHA in a new direction so that it would not be under the probation and cloud of confusion that it once was. He opened up the process of which now the whole nation is watching,” said Paul McKinley.

Dennis Hood was also passionate about how Don Biernacki was vital in their success. Don is Senior Vice-President of Construction at Related Midwest. Over the past four years, Related Midwest has awarded more than $61 million in contracts to small and local businesses ranging from landscaping to fencing to general construction. In addition to contracting with new and local minority and women-owned businesses, Related Midwest also provides mentorship, business support and training to community entrepreneurs, according to Chicago Construction News.

Mr. Hood and Paul McKinley keep their focus on making sure their construction business is a success. They are assisted by their foremen and staff. With the success of projects like the Lathrop Homes, the JOC program will continue to produce opportunities.

Former NLCP Basketball Player Martrell Barnes Makes the Right Move

By Todd Thomas

Making the right move after high school is difficult for many prep athletes, but former North Lawndale College Prep basketball player Martrell Barnes appears to have made an excellent decision when he chose to attend Triton College, a NJCAA Division II basketball powerhouse, with a tidy mid-sized campus in River Grove, IL.

Barnes, a tenacious a six-foot three-inch guard, with a knack for rebounding and defense, has made a nice transition from the Phoenix to Triton, where he’s seen significant playing time, and contributed a lot to the Titan’s 20-3 record.

Several of Barnes’ senior teammates from NLCP chose to attend colleges across the country, but he decided to stay in the Chicago area to begin his collegiate career. “I considered going away to school, but I wanted to put myself in the best position to succeed, whether it was here or away,” Barnes said. “Here at Triton we are 20-3. We get a lot of attention, and it’s a good program, with a fun and cool coach.”

The fun and cool coach is head coach Steve Christiansen. The veteran coach has fourteen years’ experience coaching and recruiting for the Titans, and said he’s been interested in Barnes for several years. “I first watched him play as a junior and he hit a game winner against Farragut. Then I saw him get 18 rebounds in another game. Martrell showed a real will to get to the ball, and I got a feeling that this was a Triton type of player – a guy with some grit,” Christiansen said.

Barnes’ freshman season hasn’t been spectacular, but he has been efficient, and consistent. He’s averaging 7.3 points-per-game, with a solid 56 percent field goal percentage. In addition, he’s averaging 47 percent from 3-point range to go along with four rebounds per game. With a look toward the upcoming playoffs, Coach Christiansen sees Barnes playing a big role.

“He’s one of our key guys. It’s not about who starts, but who finishes, and Martrell is willing to defend – he’s willing to take a charge, and he’s willing to go get an offensive rebound. Those things add up to winning plays,” he said.

Barnes attributes a lot of his success on the court to things he learned at NLCP under coach Lewis Thorpe. “He taught me that there’s no secret to being good, and it’s all about hard work. He stresses defense, and that helped me at the college level,” Barnes said.

He also said coach Thorpe kept him motivated after a difficult season-ending loss against Fenwick in the state playoffs. A loss that ended his high school basketball career.  “Coach Thorpe said the main goal is to make it to the next level. No matter where you play you’ve made it to the next level – that helped me get over the loss.”

But Barnes’s is a fierce competitor and he still feels the sting of that defeat. “It hurt because I knew there was no more high school basketball. I knew I would miss it, but Coach Thorpe always told us that you have to face reality. But I can say that I gave it may all, and that’s all you can do. You name it, I try to bring it every game,” Barnes said.

Another thing from high school that stays with him is the chant of “Red Red”, which is a cheer shouted loudly by the team and the fans at Phoenix games to step up the defensive pressure on opponents. He even mentally drifted back to those days during a Triton game.

“A couple of times here at Triton I made a mistake and shouted out Red, still thinking I was at North Lawndale. That stuck with me – I’ll never forget Red. It means don’t let your man touch the ball, and if you do you might end up on the bench, Barnes said.” One thing he does not miss, is the relentless violence on the west side streets where he lived while at North Lawndale. Currently he lives with several of his Triton teammates in a house in nearby Addison, IL. “You don’t hear what you would hear out west, like gunshots,” Barnes said. “That’s real big to me, and it feels good to walk to the store and not have to look over your shoulder.”

Headed into the basketball playoffs and with the spring semester in full swing, Barnes said he feels good about where he’s at in life. “I’m really happy I chose Triton. I passed all my classes. Coach gave me all the help I need, and there’s a brotherhood with my teammates – they’re like family, and I Like to feel comfortable. It feels like I’m at North Lawndale all over again.”

NAACP presents 2nd District Cook County Commissioner Candidate Forum


Phoenix Football Rising

By Todd Thomas

North Lawndale College Prep has been a force in Chicago Public League basketball for years, and now the football team is starting to show their potential as they close out a 7-2 season. The Phoenix finished third in the Big Shoulders Conference – narrowly missing out on a State Playoff berth.
After a winless 2016 campaign, that saw them go 0-9 in the tough Illini Conference, the Phoenix were determined to rebound behind second-year head coach Dedrick Dewalt. They found new life after being placed in the Big-Shoulders conference with a more level playing field that didn’t have them competing against the top football teams in the city.
“The drop in competition was beneficial to us. The level of talent in the Big Shoulders was not what it was when we played Simeon, Curie, and Westinghouse, in the Illini Conference,” Dewalt said.
The change in conferences coincided with an influx of new players at key positions. One player was quarterback Rayion Williams, a basketball player with a history of success in youth football, but no experience in high school.
Despite his lack of experience, Williams posed a threat as a runner and passer, and accounted for over 20 touchdowns.
“I missed football and I wanted to get back on the field for at least one year,” Williams said. “I saw my basketball teammates playing and I wanted to have the experience of playing with them on the court and on the field.”
The Phoenix were fortunate to have two capable quarterbacks, and in addition to Williams, junior Marquise Earskines also saw significant playing time. They brought different, but complementary skills to the field.
“Marquise was the better passer – so I could do a lot more with him down the field. But Rayion can run and pass and has the uncanny ability to make something out of nothing. It kept defenses off balance,” Dewalt said.
One of the primary targets on the football field was senior receiver/linebacker David Forrest, who caught several TD passes and also scored on defense and special teams. Forest is also a basketball player, and he too, didn’t initially want to play football.
“I thought about it, but no I hadn’t actually planned to play football. My teammates told me to come out and see what I could do. Once I got out on the practice field it was fun so I just stuck with it,” Forest said.
The Phoenix started out the year with a big 33-0 win over Little Village, and a 30-8 victory vs. Ag Science. Wide receiver/defensive back LeDarius Toliver knew then that this season would be a good one for the Phoenix.
“After the first game I saw how improved our offensive line was, and how smart our quarterbacks were. I knew we were going to have a breakout year,” he said.
Toliver made an impact on Dewalt, who said: “Anything that he puts his hands on he’s going to catch. He’s my most dependable player on the roster. He does things the right way on and off the field.”
Toliver puts it this way: “I’m short so I can’t wait for the ball to meet me. I have to go up and get it. I have to use my athletic ability to out jump the defenders, or get to the ball before they do,” he said.
The Phoenix defense also helped carry the load, and senior defensive end Jaylin Strong, also a newcomer to the football team, was at the forefront.
“He’s the best player on the team, he was dynamic all year – he was unblockable,” Dewalt said. “He needed the state playoffs to showcase his skills – he’s division 1 talent.”
The football players at NLCP also aim to be better students, and the charter school holds them accountable. No F’s are permitted, and although the academic standards do result in some ineligibility over the course of a season, it’s accepted by the players as part of the NLCP experience.
“It helps us because NLCP prepares us for the real world too, Toliver said. “Our work is a little harder, but if you need it the extra support it’s there. It keeps you on the right track – they put academics first.”
The extra support comes from fellow students as well as teachers said quarterback Earskines.
“If we see a teammate struggling in class and I’m good in that class we help each other out. If we see our brother struggling we help him out. It’s not like everybody is on a different page, we’re on the same page trying to have the same success, that’s the family we’ve got,” he said.
Although they were 7-2 and played and exciting style of football, fan support was sparse at most crosstown stadiums including Rockne, Hansen, Gately and Lane. They had one game scheduled at nearby Douglas Park, but it was cancelled. Williams said he would like to see more support from the school to boost interest in the football program.
“We’re sometimes overlooked – if we had the support like that basketball team it would encourage the players, and motivate the students to get behind us. I think they should promote the games more and put out flyers letting people know when we play,”he said.
Looking forward to next season, getting out of the blocks strong shouldn’t be as challenging as far as recruiting enough players, but the expectations will rise.
“Next year our juniors have a hard task,” said assistant coach Rodney Mathews. “They’ve got to go 7-2 or better. They can’t decrease – they have to increase their wins and elevate their game with more consistent weight training. That will help the football and basketball teams.”

AT THE FLICKS By David Schultz, film critic

By David Schultz, film critic

Gary Oldman and Kristin Scott Thomas in Darkest Hour (2017)

The jowly faced prosthetics and the performance that hides an unrecognizable Gary Oldman that surely should make him Oscar bound in one of his best performances of his career. Gary Oldman totally absorbs himself into the role of Winston Churchill who becomes the reluctant choice as the new Prime Minster who finds himself under siege by the Parliament members. While Hitler’s forces get closer to England; having taking over most of Europe, having invaded Poland, Czech, Holland, etc.
Initially not viewed in high regard after his decision in the Gallipoli battle during WWI; Churchill receives a cordial visit from King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn) who offers an olive branch of support in his appointment.
Even though the Parliament’s initial choice for Prime Minister, Halifax (Stephen Dillane) felt this wasn’t his time after a scandal gets the current P.M. Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) to resign the post
Just prior to his appointment, Churchill becomes rather abrupt to a newly hired secretary, Elizabeth Layton (Lily James) that later takes some coaching from Churchill’s strong willed wife, Clementine (Kristen Scott Thomas) to not be so gruff to the new girl who ultimately becomes his right hand.
From May 9, 1940 to the Operation Dynamo; we observe Winston Churchill as a man of private moments of self-doubt caught up in the inner workings of British government during his first term.
Until he strays away from his true self and feelings that takes him to act out of character to regain his perspective. When he decides for the first time to exit the limo and enter the subway to chat with the commoner on the train about how they view Hitler and the possible war looming to their country.
From this encounter, Churchill regains his focus to confront the Parliament for a fiery speech that emphasis a defiant spirit to fight no matter how outnumbered or the outcome.
The energetic pacing and direction from Joe Wright who creates a fascinating biography war drama that makes “Darkest Hour” shine through Gary Oldman’s captivating performance. This is a movie well constructed by its dialogue than its action that captures the vulnerability of this historic figure that wasn’t particular well liked of thought-of by those that reluctantly chose him to handle the country’s biggest concern during its darkest hour.
PG-13; 125min. A Focus features Release – Presented at selected theaters

Juno Temple in Wonder Wheel (2017)

Behind the backdrop of the 1950’s seashore Coney Island amusement park, a daughter, Carolina (Juno Temple) on the run from his mob husband seeks sanctuary from her long, estranged father, Humpty (Jim Belushi) with a fire starting 10 yr old son, Richie (Jack Gore). Humpty has since remarried to an unhappy ex- actress turned waitress/ wife in despair approaching her 40th birthday, Ginny (Kate Winslet) who make the mistake of cheating on her first husband, a jazz drummer whom she realizes taught her what love is, compared to what her current husband currently show what love isn’t.
While Humpy softens his stanza toward his daughter for marrying too young to a mobster. He allows her to hideout and gets employed at his wife’s diner. Ginny begins to have another affair with an articulate lifeguard, Mickey Rubin (Justin Timberlake, who is also the film’s narrator). A former WWII navy veteran striving to be a playwright that ignites an” older woman, younger man” relationship. Until its love at first sight, when Ginny introduces Carolina, more intriguing for her past experiences that fascinate him as well as being closer to his type in age.
While the two women are clearly in love with the same men. It’s clear through the Oscar worthy performance of Kate Winset who plays the character with a certain edge that eventually gets the better of her. Clearly, Ginny needs the attention out of desperation for what’s lacking in marriage to Humpty. This leads to a mental misstep that leads to a tragic outcome those effects all in writer-director Woody Allen’s domestic period piece, romantic tragedy.
“Wonder Wheel” is a movie that captures a certain hue in these characters that seems to comes in three shades in most Woody Allen films. While , some of what occurs amidst this love triangle feels like a rehash to several past Allen films that looks more nostalgic than the attitude of the characters that become caught up in familiar infidelity themes.
PG-13; 101min. An Amazon Studios Release – Presented at selected theaters

Allegra Fulton, David Hewlett, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, and Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water (2017)

Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro’s overall fascination with monsters and the cinema continues to evolves from what could have been expected as another horror movie treatment.
Instead; we are treated with an unexpected romantic fantasy in his latest offering “The Shape of Water”. Sort of a wondrous nostalgic mix of “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” meets Steven Spielberg’s “E.T” meets “Cinema Paradiso” that is intended to be an adult fairy tale.
Sally Hawkins delivers an exceptional performance as a lonely mute woman, Elisa with a scarred past represented by her neck markings. Elisa lives in mundane obscurity with an unemployed repressed gay commercial artist, Giles (Richard Jenkins).
Set during the 60’s; They live in an apartment adjacent to an old movie theater palace. While Elisa is employed as a janitorial assistant alongside her chatty co-worker and protector, Zelda (a wonderful Octavia Spencer) who works at a secret government laboratory facility.
Where perfectly creepy and villainous Michael Shannon is easily despicable as federal agent, Richard Strickland who arrives with a nameless, amphibian-like creature (Doug Jones) from the depths of South America inside a murky glass tube tank.
Awaiting further orders from the General, Shannon’s character rather kill the creature than fulfill the scientists desire to learn from the creature that could serve a purpose in the Cold War.
After an incident occurs Elisa and Zelda are assigned to clean up the bloody mess. When Elisa notices and becomes infatuated by the creature who at first, represents symbolically what’s been missing from her life.
A kindred spirit develops into a form of communication between them that is quietly observed from a distance by a scientist, Dr. Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlberg) whose a double agent working with the Russians who like the Americans would capture the creature to kill it to prevent its knowledge and use on the other country.
But from these stark and tense dramatic moments comes lyrical, magical expressions through the nostalgic songs of the 40’s. The best of the lot, “You’ll Never Know’ giving way to the inner thoughts to Elisa who fills a void in her life through her concern and later sensual feelings for the creature that develops a plan to save the only thing in life to love her back.
This eventually leads to the two species making love under water by flooding the apartment bathroom. Done with style and grace by del Toro supported by an enchanting music score from Alexander Desplat. Nothing as gratuitous as was done years ago in 1980’s awful and laughable cheap, “Humanoids from the Deep”
More visual and technical sound than its script; “The Shape of Water’ is an eloquent banquet that represents del Toro’s best effort. The story is a revisionist’s effort to make something special out of the familiar that is at least, a refreshing departure from the usual movie fare.
R; 123min. A Fox Searchlight Pictures release – Presented at selected theaters