We Must All Protect Gay Youth from Suicide

This is just too, too sad.

From Judy Shepard:

Our family, and the staff and board at the Matthew Shepard Foundation, are all deeply saddened by the devastating report of at least the fourth gay or gay-perceived teen to commit suicide in this country in the last month.

Reports say that Tyler Clementi, 18, leapt to his death from the George Washington Bridge near his New Jersey college campus after a roommate allegedly broadcast him in a same-sex encounter behind closed doors in his dorm room, and apparently invited others, via Twitter, to view it online. Regardless of his roommate’s alleged tweet, Tyler had apparently made no statement about his own sexual orientation. I’m sure we will all learn more about this terrible tragedy as legal proceedings unfold, but the contempt and disregard behind such an invasion of privacy seems clear. In the meantime, we send our thoughts and prayers to Tyler’s family as they mourn their loss.

In the last month there has been a shocking series of teen suicides linked to bullying, taunting, and general disrespect regarding sexual orientation, in every corner of America. Just a few days ago, Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old in Tehachapi, Calif., passed away after 10 days on life support after he hanged himself. Police say he had been mercilessly taunted by fellow students over his perceived sexual orientation.

Billy Lucas, 15, hanged himself a few weeks ago at his Indiana home after years of reported harassment by students who judged him to be gay. Asher Brown, a 13-year-old in Harris, TX, who had recently come out, took his life with a gun after, his parents say, their efforts to alert school officials to ongoing bullying were not acted upon.

Many Americans also learned this week about Tyler Wilson, an 11-year-old boy in Ohio who decided to join a cheerleading squad that had been all-female. As a gymnast, he was interested in the athletic elements of cheering. He was taunted with homophobic remarks and had his arm broken by two schoolmates who apparently assumed him to be gay. He told “Good Morning America” that since returning to school, he’s been threatened with having his other arm broken, too.

Our young people deserve better than to go to schools where they are treated this way. We have to make schools a safe place for our youth to prepare for their futures, not be confronted with threats, intimidation or routine disrespect.

Quite simply, we are calling one more time for all Americans to stand up and speak out against taunting, invasion of privacy, violence and discrimination against these youth by their peers, and asking everyone in a position of authority in their schools and communities to step forward and provide safe spaces and support services for LGBT youth or those who are simply targeted for discrimination because others assume they are gay. There can never be enough love and acceptance for these young people as they seek to live openly as their true selves and find their role in society.

Suicide is a complicated problem and it is too easy to casually blame it on a single factor in a young person’s life, but it is clear that mistreatment by others has a tremendously negative effect on a young person’s sense of self worth and colors how he or she sees the world around them. Parents, educators and peers in the community need to be vigilant to the warning signs of suicide and other self-destructive behaviors in the young people in their lives, and help them find resources to be healthy and productive. We urge any LGBT youth contemplating suicide to immediately reach out to The Trevor Project, day or night, at (866) 4-U-TREVOR [866-488-7386].

Judy Shepard

President, Matthew Shepard Foundation Board of Directors

She’s right. And those of us who work with youth must find the courage to help them where they are, accept and love them as they are.

Garrison Keillor Comes Out In Support of Tarryl Clark Over Michele Bachman

This is no surprise, but it is good news, and a very powerful endorsement from a great guy.

From Garrison Keillor:

Dear Friends,

Thirty years ago, when I started telling stories about Lake Wobegon, I put it smack in the middle of Minnesota – in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, in fact – where staunch Republicans and loyal Democrats know how to live together without yelling at each other and do what needs to be done to work out our problems.

It’s embarrassing to me and a great many Minnesotans that Michele Bachmann, a politician who is so busy grandstanding and giving interviews on Fox News that she doesn’t have time to serve the people who elected her, represents the 6th District in Washington.

That’s why I’m proudly supporting Tarryl Clark – and I hope you will join me by contributing before today’s midnight deadline.

Minnesota’s 6th District has some of the highest foreclosure and unemployment rates in the state, but in an interview with the St. Cloud Times, Congresswoman Bachmann was unable to name any "substantive" legislation she had passed.

Michele Bachmann may still be counting on sliding through to re-election on November 2nd, but this year she is running against a smart and hard-working State Senator, Tarryl Clark, who is determined to make the talking heads of Fox News sit up and take notice.

Tarryl founded Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity and served as youth minister of her church for nearly twenty years. She grew up in a Navy family and has worked on behalf of veterans, families and children in the legislature. Service to her community is a part of who she is, and that spirit of service is sorely needed in Washington these days.

I hope you’ll join me in making a financial contribution to her campaign – $25, $50 or $100 – before midnight tonight!

Tarryl Clark will never embarrass our state in Congress. Let’s restore some respect for the Minnesota tradition of working together sensibly by electing her this November.

Thank you,

Garrison Keillor

P.S. Instead of working to solve problems, Bachmann talks about us as a "nation of slaves" and about the need for smaller government even though she knows better – the biggest part of big government is military spending, Social Security, and Medicare. Which would she do away with? Bachmann’s so-called policies are just the old Bush economics that Alan Greenspan characterized as "disastrous." Help Tarryl defeat her by donating today.

County Board Twits Can Continue to Tweet

With all due respect and apologies to the Cook County Board for the title, I think it’s just too funny that this even came up for discussion. I would have loved to have been at the meeting only to hear Elizabeth Gorman call Tony Peraica a twit.

From the Chicago Tribune:

The electronic chirping can continue during Cook County Board meetings, as commissioners shot down a plan today to ban members from Tweeting during meetings.

Several members of the board’s Rules Committee expressed frustration with the messages Commissioner Tony Peraica sends out to followers of his Twitter account as debates rage. In the end, however, only Commissioner Joseph Moreno, D-Chicago, voted to prohibit the practice.

Commissioner Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston, said silencing the Tweets would infringe on board members’ freedom of speech. "In this situation, we are trying to limit First Amendment access — which has been guaranteed by both the federal and state constitution — between the elected officials and their constituents, and more importantly, between the constituents and the elected officials," Suffredin said.

Peraica, R-Riverside, was not on hand for the meeting, but his presence was felt throughout the debate.

"I’ll chime in, since I’ve been the target of erroneous tweets by the twit in question," said Commissioner Elizabeth Gorman, R-Orland Park.

Gorman said Peraica has inaccurately Tweeted about her positions on county issues, but she acknowledged it’s a "behavioral issue" that shouldn’t be outlawed.

Yes, there was actually action taken by the Cook County Board regarding Twitter.

I think I’ll have to Tweet this.

Virginia Executes 41-Year-Old Woman

A woman was executed by the people of the state of Virginia today. She was only the 12th woman executed in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, the great year of our Bicentennial Celebration.

Here’s a telling line from the NYTimes story, "Psychologists involved in her case said she was borderline retarded."

From the New York Times:

A woman convicted of orchestrating a plot that led to the murders of her husband and stepson was executed in Virginia Thursday night, becoming the first woman executed in the state in almost a century.

The woman, Teresa Lewis, 41, died by lethal injection at a correctional facility in southeastern Virginia. With a crowd of death penalty opponents protesting outside, Ms. Lewis was pronounced dead at 9:13 p.m., the Associated Press reported, citing officials at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt. She was the 12th woman executed in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

The case against Ms. Lewis, the first woman executed in the country since 2005, had drawn international attention. Many of her supporters questioned the fairness of her sentence — her co-conspirators, who fired the fatal shots, were spared capital punishment — and doubts were raised about her mental capacity. Psychologists involved in her case said she was borderline retarded. And her supporters argued that she had been manipulated by the two triggermen, who stood to gain hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings and life insurance payoffs.

What’s done is done, and cannot be undone.

So it goes.

Former Cicero Town President Betty Loren-Maltese May Lose Home

Maltese home
(Photo: Cook County Public Auction Notice)

Betty Loren-Maltese may lose her home, but right now the auction is on hold.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

An attorney for former Cicero Town President Betty Loren-Maltese persuaded a federal judge today to postpone the auction of her Cicero home until she can challenge her 2002 corruption conviction.

The government was scheduled to auction her one-story brick home Thursday to recoup a portion of the $8.3 million in restitution that she owes.

But Judge John Grady granted a stay of the auction until Loren-Maltese can challenge her conviction based on the so-called "Skilling" defense, said her lawyer, Leonard C. Goodman.

"It’s been hard for her," Goodman said of his high-profile client, who was sentenced to a 97-month prison term in 2003 and was released to a halfway house in February. "She’s been trying to get steady work." Since her release to a halfway house, Loren-Maltese has worked as a restaurant hostess and written a blog.

Her attorneys are seeking to have her conviction thrown out based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling’s conviction for theft of honest services.

The high court found the honest-services fraud law was unconstitutionally vague and that violations must include acts of bribery or kickbacks.

I certainly don’t want to see anyone lose a home, but Betty was convicted. There’s no reason to say "alleged" here.

There was no minimum price set for the home, according to the notice.

Bears Ride Cowboys In Dallas

Let’s start at the beginning….

Da Bears Won!

Da Bears toppled the Cowboys! And Jay Cutler played one helluva game!

From the Sun-Times:

Before kickoff at Cowboys Stadium Sunday, Bears receiver Devin Hester wanted to clear the air with quarterback Jay Cutler.

“I went to Jay and told him, ‘Regardless of what anybody is saying, don’t force nothing to me,’ ” Hester recalled telling Cutler, who quipped on Wednesday that he would have gotten the receiver the ball more than once if “Devin would’ve gotten open.”

“ ‘If I’m not there, don’t throw me the ball,’ ” Hester said. “ ‘Let’s just go out and play ball and have fun.’ ”

After a shaky start, the Bears regrouped and celebrated a 27-20 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, thanks to outstanding efforts from numerous players, including Cutler and Hester. The defense forced three turnovers; Cutler completed 21 of 29 passes for 277 yards with three touchdowns (136.7 passer rating) and no turnovers; and Hester showcased his playmaking skills with a one-handed nine-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter and a 38-yarder that set up the Bears final touchdown.

“We’re going to hang in there, and take whatever flak or blame that comes our way,” Bears center Olin Kreutz said. “Really gratifying to watch Hester, just with the stuff he took last week. He just hung in there.

“But that’s kind of the identity of our offense.”

This was a statement game for the Bears and Hester.

The Cowboys were a popular pick to win the NFC, and they are an excellent team at home, especially in their beautiful billion-dollar gold standard of a stadium. Heading into the game, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo earned three Pro Bowl selections largely with his play in Irving (Texas Stadium) and Arlington (Cowboys Stadium; he was 19-9 with a passer rating of 99.6.

But the Bears defense – just as they did against the Detroit Lions – made the Cowboys one-dimensional, stiflingly the three-headed running attack of Marion Barber (11 carries, 31 yards), Felix Jones (seven carries, seven yards) and Tashard Choice (one run, minus one yard). Romo attempted 51 passes, completing 34, for 374 yards, but he was twice picked off by third cornerback D.J. Moore, and he clearly struggled to adjust to the Bears’ zone.

Incredible.

More here at the Sun-Times.

Holiday Star Theater Operator Duped Park Forest, Officials Say

More on the mess in Park Forest due to a lapse at Matanky Realty (why, exactly, did they not perform a credit check on this man????):

A man who served 18 years in prison for fraud duped the village of Park Forest into letting him run The Holiday Star Theater by giving them a phony name, village officials said.

Kenneth Arron, of Lombard, was charged Thursday with felony forgery and fraud. He had operated the theater under the name Kenneth Yochelson for six months, village officials said.

Arron’s world allegedly unraveled during a traffic stop Monday morning. Police recognized him as the theater operator, but he “quickly admitted his legal name was not Kenny Yochelson,’’ village officials said in a written statement.

Arron admitted he used the Yochelson name because he feared his criminal background would keep him from doing business in the area, officials said.

Yoy.

And Double-Yoy.

As Pittsburgh’s Myron Cope would’ve said.

Yes, Mayor Daley Is Right to Move 200 Cops to the Streets

Mayor Daley

Look: Yes, crime is a problem in Chicago.

No, it is not the fault of Mayor Daley.

No politician should have to deal with this much madness.

It is the fault of Chicago’s gangs.

So, I don’t quite understand the "controversy" in this story from the Chicago Sun-Times:

Mayor Daley said Thursday he wants to take the police out of community policing to put 200 more officers on the street.

Daley said Chicago’s Alternative Policing Strategy, known as CAPS, was conceived as a civilian-run program in the 1990s but now involves many more uniformed officers than was originally intended.

“Over 200 police officers or more were assigned to CAPS over years — lieutenants and sergeants and patrolmen. In some districts, they had 8 to 10 or 12 people assigned to CAPS. . . . All the sudden, a civilian thing  . . . went to a Police Department [program]. That was not the concept,” the mayor said.

The decision to yank the officers out of community policing comes three months after Daley asked Ron Holt, the police officer father of a 16-year-old gunned down on a CTA bus, to breathe new life into the CAPS program.

“When Ron took it over, he couldn’t believe how many police officers were assigned and transferred over many years into it. It became a huge amount of police officers,” the mayor said.

Good for "Da Mayor." This is a good move on his part.

Park Forest Theater Operator Was No Harold Hill

Kenneth Arron
Kenneth Arron addresses the Park Forest Village Board as “Kenny Yochelson.” (Photo: ENEWSPF)

First, the sad news from ENEWSPF:

In the 1957 musical The Music Man, Professor Harold Hill arrives by train in River City Iowa and begins to work his a scam convincing parents he can teach their children music. At the end of the comedy when Hill’s fraud is exposed, parents and the town forgive Hill when they hear their children attempt to play Beethoven’s Minuet in G.

Officials in Park Forest are not laughing, however, at the fraud allegedly committed by Kenneth Arron, who represented himself to the community as Kenny Yochelson.

According to a press release from the Village of Park Forest, criminal charges were filed today against the operator of Holiday Star Theater in Park Forest.

Kenny Arron, who had presented himself as Kenny Yochelson since first approaching Park Forest officials in January about taking over the then?Eagle Theater, was arrested Monday, the release said.

Park Forest is a town that has struggled to regain a local business foothold for years. At one time the “Centre” of businesses in the south suburbs, Park Forest watched as businesses left for Matteson, IL, and then migrated north of Interstate 80. Many businesses have returned to Matteson, due, in no small part to the work of Park Forest’s current Director of Economic Development and Planning Hildy Kingma, who Park Forest wooed from Matteson where she worked in a similar capacity. Kingma was largely responsible for populating the plaza at the northwest corner of Cicero and Rt. 30 (Panera Bread, Borders, etc.).

However, current Matteson Village officials deserves credit too. Mayor Ashmore has worked hard to move Matteson from the red, and it looks like he will succeed. Matteson suffered much during the Great Bush Recession, drastically understimating the impact the Great Recession would have on its sales tax revenue.

All of that having been said, back to our topic.

Village Officials in Park Forest were “had” by a professional con-man. Kenneth Arron, a.k.a. “Kenny Yochelson,” represented himself as the answer to all of Park Forest’s woes. Declaring that Park Forest Village officials had their “heads up their ass,” Yochelson was actually contemplating a run for Village Trustee in Park Forest, according to a group on Facebook.

The problem?

Kenny Yochelson‘ does not exist.

His real name is Kenny Arron, and he is no Harold Hill.

Professor Harold Hill eventually discovered his conscience.

Kenneth Arron never did.

How sad for this man. According to the press release from Park Forest, he has spent 18 years, most of his adult life, behind bars.

How sad.

Park Forest deserves better.

I hope the Holiday Star Theater survives.

Park Forest deserves better.

Obama Sidesteps Senate Fight: Taps Elizabeth Warren to Launch Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

From Lynn Sweet at the Chicago Sun-Times:

President Obama found a way Wednesday night to sidestep a Senate confirmation blockade and install Elizabeth Warren to launch the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Warren was the first to suggest that consumers needed a government watchdog to prevent financial institutions from exploiting and tricking their customers. HOPE SHE WORKS ON TRANSLATING the small print INTO PLAIN ENGLISH.

Thank you, President Obama!

And Lynn Sweet better add ENEWSPF as one of her Sweet Links after this post!