Monthly Archives: October 2015

One Barber is Creating Cubs-Inspired Masterpieces on His Client’s Heads

haircubWith playoff season in full swing, Chicago Cubs fans have been looking for any way to show their allegiance to the Chicago baseball team. For one barber, only the utmost in creativity would make the cut.

A few days before the Cubs’ playoff game against the Pirates, Barber Miguel Rosa decided to express his playoff season excitement in the best way he knew how.

“I called my friend and asked if I could use one of [his] kids as a model,” said Rosa.

The barber then created an intricate haircut on the boy, depicting an image of Cubs’ starting pitcher, Jake Arrieta, complete with a perfectly dyed cubs emblem.

After crafting his masterpiece, Rosa took to the Internet and shared his creation with the world. The image quickly went viral.

“I posted it online and it took off,” he said. “I figured it would get shared on Instagram and websites, but I never knew this would happen.”

On Tuesday, Rosas was in Chicago at the Acme Hotel, offering his Cubs cuts to anyone who wished to show their Cubs pride on their head.

One week prior, Rosas went to his first-ever Cubs game, where he was able to meet Arrieta and show him his hair likeness.

“He was like ‘Man, that’s amazing,” Rosas said. “’I can’t believe somebody can do something like that.’ He told me I was really talented, and he was happy to see something like that done.”

Meanwhile, Isaiss Duarte, the boy with the famous Jake Arrieta haircut, is enjoying his moment in the spotlight.

“Everyone at school was like I saw you on TV,” he said “I think the design is so cool. As my hair grows, so does Arrieta’s beard.”

And indeed, hair does grow back. Women get over 104 hairstyles in their lifetime for this reason, and makes these specialty cuts all-the-more justifiable.

Rosas has been in the hair design business for seven years. He’s the owner of Moline’s Style Barbershop, and hopes the popularity of his recent designs will attract more clientele.

“I would love to cut sport athletes, celebrities,” he said. “I have a passion for what I do.”

Developers Are Not Happy With Chicago’s New Affordable Housing Mandate

Street of residential housesChicago is in the middle of an affordable housing crisis, but developers have been flooding into City Hall lately hoping to get around a new law which would require them to set aside units for low-income families.

The legislation in question went into effect on Sunday, Oct. 11; according to DNAinfo Chicago, it’s intended to promote more affordable housing options in affluent Chicago neighborhoods. The Chicago Business Journal reported that the law was passed by Chicago’s City Council this past March, and it involves heavy financial penalities for developers that fail to incorporate affordable housing units into new housing developments.

At the time the law was passed, there were around 618,000 new single-family housing units being built across the country, and several cities have struggled to ensure that enough affordable housing options are built for low-income residents.

Chicago, in particular, is now requiring that developers set aside 10% of their units to be rented or sold at below-market rates, and it only applies to developments with 10 or more units. If developers fail to do so, they face a penalty of at least $100,000. In certain downtown areas of the city, the fine could be as high as $200,000.

This new requirement is a big change to Chicago’s affordable housing legislation, but lawmakers did write up a caveat: developers could abide by the 2007 version of the law — which didn’t require a certain percentage of low-income units — if they submitted their projects to the City Council by its Sept. 24 meeting and have their project approved within nine months (i.e., before June 2016).

Unsurprisingly, there was an influx of activity at City Hall at the end of September; the Chicago Business Journal stated that residential development applications increased by 46% between August and September, due to the deadline.

City officials and developers are still pretty divided on the issue. While city officials hope to encourage more diversification in the city, many developers have argued that construction costs are far too high in a city like Chicago to justify building new low-income units.

The Home Builders Association of Chicago, for example, filed a lawsuit against the city this past August for “improper taking of private property for public use without proper compensation.”

3 Years After Building $132 Million Dorm, Roosevelt University Is Dangerously in Debt

Chicago skyline at nightThree years ago, Roosevelt University decided to build a 32-story, $123 million skyscraper residence on its downtown Chicago campus; since building the giant dormitory, South Loop Tower has become a student hub for living, studying, and socializing.

It has also become the center of Roosevelt’s financial woes, according to a new report from the Chicago Tribune, which described the building on South Wabash Avenue as “more like a millstone than a monument to Roosevelt’s educational mission.” The building was reportedly a “pet project” of former Roosevelt president Charles Middleton, who started planning the South Loop tower back in 2002 and retired this past June.

Since building South Loop, Roosevelt hasn’t been able to pay off its construction loans. Interest payments have “ballooned” for the private nonprofit university, and tuition revenue has fallen much shorter than what school officials had predicted back in 2009.

The school is now struggling to stay on track of its debt payments, which make up a whopping 11% of the school’s operating budget; the Tribune reported that this is “nearly double the typical debt burden at financially healthy universities.”

The 6,000-student college, according to American School and University, is expected to be drowning in debt for the fifth year in a row. Salary increases for staff members have been frozen, the school’s administration department is looking to lower its spending, and the school’s new president Ali Malekzadeh is left to clean up the mess.

Roosevelt justified the South Loop tower with predictions from finance officials, back in 2009, that the school would see a $40 million increase in tuition revenue by 2014. Considering that Roosevelt’s average tuition for full-time students is around $26,000 per year — just slightly lower than the national average of $31,000 for the 2014-2015 school year — one would think that the school would be able to pay back its debts.

In reality, the school’s tuition revenue only increased by $5 million.

Officials expected the new dormitory to bring more full-time students onto the campus, and full-time enrollment did increase — just not quickly enough. There are twice as many beds available on Roosevelt’s campus now than there were in 2002, but student enrollment stagnated shortly after construction began in 2009.

Although enrollment is continuing to grow slowly, many Roosevelt University students and staff members are wondering whether it will be enough — or whether that 32-story tower will be considered the beginning of the end for Roosevelt.

Medical Marijuana Ads Facing Censure

Medical marijuana from the DoctorCresco Labs, a medical marijuana business in Illinois, is launching a $1 million marketing campaign that’s going to include print advertising, radio commercials, billboards, social media campaigns, and notices in health publications. The only problem is that there’s a ban on advertising by growers in the Prairie State.

“Cultivation centers may not advertise through any public medium … designed to market (their) products to the public,” state Illinois Department of Agriculture regulations.

However, cultivation centers can market to doctors and dispensaries. Cresco officials said in response to a question about whether the regulation applies to to their case that the new ad campaign was meant to promote the state medical marijuana program as a whole. Not their products specifically.

“This outreach campaign is about educating patients and doctors that there are new forms of medical relief in Illinois and directing them to our website to use as a portal for applying,” said Cresco President Rob Sampson. “All educational outreach to create awareness of this program, whether by us or anyone else in this industry, is clearly within the state’s guidelines.”

Department of Agriculture officials have seen the local marketing efforts, according to spokesperson Rebecca Clark, and are “evaluating enforcement options.”

“The department may assess monetary fines or other conditions for rule violations,” she stated.

The potential censure highlights the biggest problem facing the state’s medical marijuana program: awareness.

As Cresco officials have said, the ads are designed to promote medical marijuana as a whole; the program itself is now two years old, but continues to struggle to even get off the ground. State data from September shows that only 3,000 patients have been approved to use medical marijuana, just 0.0002% of the state’s population. Initial estimates figured that there would be over 100,000 medical marijuana patients.

“This is proof that having a proper advertising strategy to reach the target market is crucial for any type of business,” Ron Blackwelder, Owner, Charlotte Local Marketing. “Every company has that ‘sweet spot’ where they can most effectively communicate and connect with their specific audience.”

The ads are hoping to change that. Cresco founder Charles Bachtell explained that the media blitz is meant to “normalize” the program, saying, “Right now we need to make sure the people of Illinois are comfortable with the program.”

Chicago Suffers More Than Six Dozen Heroin Overdoses Over Three-Day Period, Arrests Made

Drug AbuseIn the span of 72 hours, Chicago Fire Department crews responded to 74 heroin overdose cases last week.

Last week, Chicago police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration combed the city’s West Side trying to find the source of the dangerous batch of drugs. Eventually, they arrested two gang members — 24-year-old Alfonzo Sylvester and 26-year-old Mario Wofford — after the two sold $720 worth of heroin to an undercover Chicago police officer, according to prosecutors.

The reason the two’s batch of heroin may have proved to be so lethal was because they were possibly lacing it with fentanyl, a painkiller that’s 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin.

“We suspect what is happening is the same thing that happened in 2006 when people were getting heroin that was cut with fentanyl, which is a very strong narcotic,” Diane Hincks, a registered nurse and emergency room director at Mount Sinai, told the Chicago Tribune.

What’s particularly troubling about the situation is that although this was catastrophic, it’s only a high point in a recent trend. Federal agents report that heroin overdoses are up 170% across the nation.

Although heroin has a well-earned reputation as a dangerous narcotic, it’s incredibly easy to fall into the habit of using it. More than 1.5 billion people worldwide suffer from chronic pain. In many cases, these patients take painkillers. When the prescription runs out, or when the medicine becomes too expensive, they often turn to drugs on the street, like heroin.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one in 15 people who take non-medical prescription pain relievers will try heroin within 10 years.

That’s not even the worst part about the situation. Federal agents also report that the seizure of illegal drugs containing fentanyl more than tripled between 2013 and 2014.

In other words, the drugs that led to the scores of deaths over three days in Chicago are spreading across the nation.

When Fire on Film Set Turned Out to Be Real, This Chicago Firefighter Stepped In

fire alarmMichael Agostinelli wasn’t playing a firefighter on the new NBC series “Chicago Med,” but he was working on the set as a medic when he noticed that a nearby house had caught fire.

The TV show, which is about a Chicago trauma center, was filming in the 4800 block of S. Kimbark Ave. in Kenwood. Agostinelli smelled smoke and saw a light haze coming from the back of a two-story, wood-frame house just a few doors down and immediately knew something was wrong.

“I knew it wasn’t part of the scene,” Agostinelli told Chicago Tribune reporters. “That wasn’t in the, uh, plan for the day.”

Agostinelli walked to the home and alerted the family, telling them that it looked like their roof was on fire. He then checked the home to make sure that the family had evacuated the house and called 911.

Three minutes later, fire crews arrived, but by that point, the fire had spread to the attic. A 2-11 alarm was called out to get more crews there to stop the fire and ensure that it didn’t spread to other nearby houses.

In all, a total of 130 firefighters and paramedics arrived at the scene, according to Fox32 in Chicago.

Thankfully no one was hurt, and the fire didn’t spread. The house, however, did see extensive damage.

Preventative measures, such as automatic sprinklers and early warning systems in homes or other buildings, have been known to cut the risk of injury, loss of life, and property damage in half. In this case, however, it was the luck of having a firefighter close by that helped save the family inside the home.

Agostinelli, who is assigned to the Austin neighborhood firehouse of Engine 117, Tower Ladder 14, said it was all in a day’s work when he spoke to reporters about the incident.

“Just doing my job, doing what I was trained to do,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “Nothing major, you know, just making a phone call, making sure everybody’s out.”

Illinois Environmental Groups Worry About the Effects of Recycling Budget Cuts

Recyclable garbage consisting of glass plastic metal and paperWith the state of Illinois in a budget crisis, government officials are looking for ways to cut down on statewide costs to balance out their debt and are looking to recycling programs as their target. However, environmental groups are warning that these cuts could mean an increase in the amount of garbage piling up in the state’s dumps.

According to a 2011 study, 94% of Americans now have access to recycle plastic bottles. Thanks to new recycling products, 40% of Americans also have access to recycling programs that can reuse other types of plastic containers, such as yogurt cups, dairy tubs, and lids. With the proposed budget cuts, recycling workers and environmental groups worry that the cuts will make it more difficult for consumers to recycle their everyday products, thus leading to more reusable products rotting in landfills.

Members of the Illinois Environmental Council sent a warning message to all of their members about the potential cancellation of recycling grant programs provided by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). This includes the suspension of DCEO recycling grants and programs that collect food scraps, according to the Herald Review.

Vice President of the Illinois Recycling Association Melville Nickerson fears that the cuts will lead to more waste in the state’s landfills. He says that their $7 million annual budget helps divert millions of pounds of garbage away from landfills. These programs also help fund recycling programs for both private and public businesses and create new jobs.

“For every dollar in grant money that’s put forward, at least an additional dollar is being spent in order to leverage good recycling outcomes,” Nickerson says.

The cuts will include massive layoffs for recycling programs statewide. However, these layoffs have been put on hold until a judge is able to weigh the arguments of the labor unions, who represent the concerned workers.

According to figures outlined in a spending proposal released back in February, recycling programs diverted roughly 79 million tons of material from landfills last year.

“It’s unfortunate that this is going on,” says Michelle Lechner, executive director of the Illinois Recycling Association. “Hopefully, things will get back up and running when they get a budget.”