Mark Brown biography

Mark Brown is a local news columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times who writes about everything from political corruption to family life. Roger Ebert once called …Read More

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Emanuel could learn lessons from Preckwinkle to fix image problems

What would Toni do? That’s Toni as in Preckwinkle, the Cook County Board president who polls wildly better than Mayor Rahm Emanuel but says she will not run against him in 2015.

Rosemoor Hotel owner ordered to pay tenants $3,000 each for move

A group of SRO tenants who probably couldn’t afford to buy a late-model Chevy if they pooled their money taught luxury auto dealer Joe Perillo a lesson Friday in Cook County Circuit Court. The 15 or so tenants applauded spontaneously when Circuit Judge Edward Harmening ordered Perillo, owner of the Rosemoor Hotel, to pay each of them $3,000 to help them vacate the building on an emergency basis.

Judge declares residential hotel a fire hazard, tenants ordered to leave

A Near West Side residential hotel undergoing renovation must be vacated by noon Thursday under an emergency order from a Cook County judge who declared it a fire hazard.

Fighting homelessness with diplomacy

In their lime green polo shirts, khaki pants and ball caps, the Street Team Ambassadors might look like they ought to be working the parking lots at Disney World. But for the past year, these otherwise low-key ambassadors have tried to help Chicago put its …

SRO owners say city’s attempt to help actually will hurt

Owners of Chicago’s endangered single-room occupancy buildings and residential hotels went on the offensive Monday, arguing a city effort to preserve the housing is more likely to put them out of business. In a pre-emptive strike, Eric Rubenstein, co-president of the Single Room Operators Association, said an Emanuel Administration-backed ordinance to be introduced at the City Council on Wednesday “would force the SROs to start shutting their doors.”

Not learning from tragic life of Cynthia Barnes would be the real mistake: Mark Brown

A Cook County judge found Daniel Neasom guilty Friday of the murder of Cynthia Barnes, the homeless woman whose violent death I started telling you about three years ago. Associate Judge James Linn said the only logical conclusion to draw from the evidence was that it was Neasom who sent Barnes crashing head first through his third-floor apartment window to the sidewalk below in July 2011.

Justice sure not swift in some Cook County acquittals

In television dramas, a criminal defendant who wins an acquittal walks out of court a free man into the arms of his family and the lights of the cameras. And in most places, it really works something like that, assuming there are any family or cameras in attendance. In the Cook County Criminal Court Building, though, the theoretically free man returns instead to the waiting arms of a sheriff’s deputy who places him in a holding cell behind the judge’s chambers with the other inmates and may also put him in handcuffs or other restraints.

A knee-jerk reaction to the ‘right to recline’ debate: Brown

This is just so ridiculous that some airline passengers are going out and buying those Knee Defender gadgets to prevent the person in front of them from reclining their seat. I’m appalled. After all, as most tall people have learned by now, you can accomplish …

Nothing simple about prostitute’s life, death — or trial of acccused killer

This was supposed to be the final chapter in my long-running saga on the death of homeless prostitute Cynthia Barnes with the conclusion of trial Friday for the man accused of killing her three years ago on the Southwest Side. But just as Barnes’ life …

Downstate spread proves fertile ground for political pandering

BLOOMINGTON —The state’s top farm groups gathered here Wednesday on Tim Bittner’s 3,000-acre spread to give the four major candidates for U.S. Senate and governor a workout on the issues of interest to the agriculture community. And guess what? Nobody asked them about releasing their …

Judge’s brutal questions suggest Indiana, Wisconsin may soon have same-sex marriage

Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fischer was a scant 35 seconds into his defense of his state’s ban on gay marriage Tuesday when Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner let him know where he stood. By the time Posner got to his key point he had made plain his hostility to the positions being advanced by Indiana — and Wisconsin — in support of their desire to continue to discriminate against gay couples.

Ridesharing? OK. But how about regulationsharing?

I’m all in favor of anyone who can figure out how to build a better mousetrap. That’s the American way. Where I would have a problem is if they were to call the mousetrap a rodent restriction device in an effort to avoid government regulations on mousetrap safety. Maybe that’s not the best example, as I’m not certain the government regulates mousetrap manufacturers. Something I’m absolutely certain the government regulates is the taxicab industry. Why, then, do all these requirements go out the window when the taxi company chooses to call itself a ridesharing service or a transportation network provider?

Future of affordable housing unclear after SRO tenant deals

In a bid to preserve his home in Logan Square’s bug-infested Milshire Hotel, Fred Bartels testified before the City Council just last month in favor of a city moratorium on converting or demolishing single-room occupancy and residential hotels. On Friday, Bartels was making plans for what he could do with the $4,000 he will receive in exchange for moving out of the Milshire by Sept. 2 as part of a settlement between tenants and the building owner.

Teachers could help Karen Lewis teach Rahm a lesson

The adoring crowd that welcomed Karen Lewis to the Beverly Woods Banquet Hall on Tuesday gave the first of her public “Conversations with Karen” the feel of a Chicago Teachers Union rally. That’s probably because it was a CTU production start to finish — arranged …

Northwest Side’s Our Lady of Victory lives up to its name

Tuesday marked the first day of school at Our Lady of Victory in Portage Park, the annual ritual taking on added significance this year. Not a tear was observed to fall from a child’s eye, but I can’t vouch for some of the parents who hurried away. Mostly there were smiles all around, which wasn’t the case just eight months ago when this Catholic elementary school was slated for closing by the Archdiocese of Chicago because of shaky finances

Gov. Rauner and Mayor Lewis — a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man

Cue your best Rod Serling imitation. “Imagine, if you will, a world in which Republican plutocrat Bruce Rauner is governor of Illinois and lefty teachers union President Karen Lewis is mayor of Chicago. “Have have just entered the Twilight Zone or what?” What might have seemed completely far-fetched a year ago is now a more than possible outcome, if you believe the latest public opinion polling from both major newspapers.

Unions no longer booing Quinn now that Rauner is on the stage

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan stood with Gov. Pat Quinn at the State Fair on Wednesday to try to send a clear message that all of organized labor stands behind the Democrat’s re-election. Given that just two years ago union members booed Quinn …