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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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Downstate Washington comes back strong year after tornado

Monday marks the anniversary of the destructive EF-4 storm that ripped into 1,100 homes, destroying 595 of them and killing three people.

Hard work of many led to single room occupancy ordinance

Just two years ago, a group of Chicago community activists weren’t sure they could find a single alderman to champion the cause of saving the city’s disappearing stock of single-room occupancy housing. But at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, one alderman after another took the microphone to praise the city’s new SRO preservation ordinance amid a general recognition that these properties are vital assets of a diverse city. It took hundreds of hours of work by those activists, several thousand people losing their homes and one Chicago mayor in need of a little love to cause that rather remarkable turnaround.

Election judge robocall flap exaggerated, GOP ward leaders say

Chicago Republican ward committeemen cast doubt Tuesday on whether controversial robocalls to election judges were as disruptive to last week’s voting as has been portrayed. Most committeemen I contacted by telephone said they were aware of no more judge absenteeism in their wards than is …

‘Urban Warriors’ seek to help youth

Jorge Maya and Rafael P. Rodriguez sat across from me one evening last week — the former a 34-year-old Army combat veteran and the other an 18-year-old draftee in Chicago’s street gang wars. Maya once walked in Rafael’s shoes. The question before us was whether the younger man will ever get an opportunity to walk in Maya’s.

Election judge robocaller IDed — but case still full of mystery

The phone call that set off the big whodunit of the 2014 Illinois general election might sound innocuous enough. “This is your Chicago election judge coordinator Jim Parrilli,” began the automated robocall that went out on Halloween. “I’m calling to let you know that tomorrow, …

Top Ten reasons for local Democrats to feel good about election

Bruce Rauner will be our new governor, and his supporters deserve their opportunity to crow this week. But Pat Quinn still managed to receive in the neighborhood of 1.6 million votes, more than half of them right here in Cook County, and that leaves a …

With Rauner’s victory, voters get change they sought

It looks like Illinois voters are finally going to get that “change” thing they’ve been wanting all these years with Tuesday’s election of Republican Bruce Rauner. I hope the majority is correct in its calculation these will be positive changes. If nothing else, I can …

GOP sitting out countywide races? All part of the plan, party says

I can confidently predict there will be exactly zero votes tallied on Tuesday for the 2014 Republican candidate for Cook County Board president. That’s because, as anyone who has already voted here has been reminded, there is no Republican candidate for County Board president this year.

He’s quiet and careful, but don’t count Garcia out in mayor race

Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia told a group of college students Wednesday he agonized ten days over the “heart-wrenching decision” of whether to run for mayor after Karen Lewis withdrew from the race. But in the end, Garcia said, “I felt somebody’s gotta do …

Bar group calls to oust judge it says has ‘integrity’ and ‘distinguished’ career

I’m completely in favor of voting out bad judges. In fact, I’ve got a friend whose philosophy is to vote “No” on every Cook County judge facing retention, figuring he’ll hit a higher percentage than if he were to vote “Yes” for all of them. …

Why I don’t like Bruce Rauner. Hint: It rhymes with funny

People ask me why I have such a burr under my saddle when it comes to Bruce Rauner, the Republican candidate for governor. Mostly, it’s the money. Sorry if you were expecting something more profound.

Help smoke this thief out, so he can be grilled by the cops

This is the first story I can remember ever writing about a stolen barbecue grill. But the Fat 50 Squared, I am assured, is no ordinary barbecue grill. Even to call it a grill is an insult.

Rauner’s big plans for Illinois? None of your business

At Monday night’s Illinois governor debate, Republican Bruce Rauner completed an amazing personal transformation — of a kind only seen in religion and politics — when he vowed he “will” raise the state’s minimum wage if elected.

Undocumented immigrants face long wait to apply for driver’s license

Every morning at 9 a.m., a ritual plays out in homes and offices across the Chicago area as thousands of people dial their phones or click online in hopes of being among the relatively few selected for that day’s chance at a valuable prize. But …

Chad Grimm, Libertarian candidate for gov, glad to get campaign cash from union

Chad Grimm, the Libertarian Party candidate for Illinois governor, said Monday he welcomes any financial support headed his way from a labor union that has dedicated itself to defeating Republican Bruce Rauner. Grimm, who sees himself as the only legitimate candidate for change in a …

Photo ID laws for voters don’t solve problems, they create them

Every time another state Legislature talks about requiring voters to carry a photo ID card, Thomas Armstrong III gets upset in a way you might not appreciate unless you’d walked in the Mississippi native’s shoes. As one of the “little people” in slain civil rights …

An election-year budget that tackles the tough issues — well, some of them

Mayor Rahm Emanuel took exception Wednesday to the characterization of his 2015 spending blueprint as an “election year budget,” especially if that implies he is putting off tough decisions until after the voting. I was going to say Emanuel bristled, but that wouldn’t be accurate. The mayor seems to be trying harder these days to keep his bristles in the prone position — perhaps in recognition that a style honed in Washington is part of what got him into trouble with voters here.