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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Aldermen testing the water before taking the plunge with Rahm

When Mayor Rahm Emanuel officially launched his re-election campaign at a West Side film studio last weekend, fewer than one-third of Chicago aldermen were on hand to show their support. “Don’t read too much into that,” cautioned Ald. Joe Moore (49th), who was one of …

Brown: Plan to rehab foreclosed properties makes sense; why aren’t feds on board?

Communities United wants Federal Housing Finance Administration Director Mel Watt to listen to its proposal to partner with a non-profit developer to rehab some Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac foreclosed properties on its turf to keep the rents affordable.

Rahm’s git-r-done minimum wage move could git undone

Veteran Ald. Patrick O’Connor (40th) reminded us during this week’s City Council debate over raising the minimum wage that even though this is the first time Chicago has set its own minimum wage, it’s hardly the first time the subject came up. And in all …

Ald. Michael Chandler won’t seek fifth term

After voting Tuesday to raise Chicago’s minimum wage, Ald. Michael Chandler (24th) quietly put on his coat, walked across the street and withdrew his name as a candidate for re-election. Chandler, who just two weeks ago filed nominating petitions to seek a fifth term in office, always does things quietly, so quietly you can forget he’s there sometimes.

State pols unlikely to rise to occasion on minimum wage this year

Despite two-thirds of Illinois voters endorsing a minimum wage increase, despite Democratic candidates making it a central focus of their 2014 election strategy and despite Democrats holding super-majorities in both legislative chambers, there remains a strong possibility lawmakers this year will leave untouched the state’s $8.25 an hour minimum wage. For those hard-pressed to understand how that could be, some guidance can be found in the example of state Rep. Mike Zalewski.

City needs to put its house in order in protecting tenants

MARK BROWN: In an all-too-familiar scenario, tenants of a Pilsen apartment building walked into court Tuesday freaked about a judge’s order to vacate their apartments by the end of the day — a piece of bad news most had only recently learned.

Tom Leach was a master of public information and private secrets

Tom Leach never did write that book. Leach, one of the city’s most liked and respected public relations men during his long tenure at the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, died Sunday from lung cancer. He was 76. With his death, Leach takes with him a lifetime of unprinted and unprintable stories gleaned as a former newsman working deep inside Chicago government and politics.

Help Santa make  a child’s Christmas

The students at Pickard Elementary School in Pilsen have already written their Letters to Santa and are eagerly awaiting his annual visit to the school. Santa does things up right when he visits Pickard, hosting a big pizza party for all 620 students, and bringing …

Some left out of plan to protect unauthorized immigrants

Miguel Duron has built a decent life for himself in Chicago in the 20 years since he left his home in the small Mexican state of Aguascalientes and slipped illegally across the border near Tijuana. But the Little Village resident has never got maried since coming to the U.S. or became a dad, and on Thursday that may leave him as one of many on the outside looking in when President Barack Obama announces his plan to protect from deportation as many as five million unauthorized immigrants.

Nurse, pharmacist angry they couldn’t vote — and they deserve answers

Colleen Hughes and Cara Shenberger arrived at their Bridgeport polling place shortly after its 6 a.m. opening on Election Day, needing to vote early because of their work schedules. Neither would be allowed to cast a ballot. Due to several factors, one of them being …

Brown: Woman with big heart helps city’s homeless

Carolyn Boyd is a bookkeeper by day and an angel by night. Three nights a week after she finishes her day job, Boyd goes home, cooks and packs meals to feed 65 people, loads it into her Nissan Versa and makes the rounds of the highway underpasses, alleys and other forsaken places where Chicago’s homeless bed down for the night.

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 …