(Chicago) A U.S. District judge is expected to hand down a sentence today for Jon Burge, the former Chicago police commander who's long been accused of torturing false confessions out of crimminal suspects decades ago. We'll bring you the latest developments today on the WGN Midday News.
Even though a special prosecutor found evidence that Burge was responsible for torturing dozens of prisoners, the statute of limitations prevents a trial on abuse allegations. But Burge was found guilty of lying to investigators and obstructing justice.
There will be an 11:45AM press conference with Burge's victims talking about the sentencing and others who are still in jail, wrongfully accused of crimes, they say.
Okay, if one more person asks me why I'm still single, my head will explode... Which would mean I would be sent to the hospital, where my mother would be scoping out doctors as potential son-in-laws.
Being a 38 year old TV producer, who has some pretty specific lifestyle standards and a low tolerance for ridiculousness has made it hard to date.
Here's the short list of obstacles:
I am always tired.
I'm almost always working, if not here at the station... somewhere on location... via blackberry... or in my overcrowded mind.
I can be a little cranky, when I'm tired.
I am always tired.
I go 6 places... The Grocery store (which I love), Target, Church, Work, The Gym and Penny's Noodles.
So far church and work haven't panned out any husbands.
So unless my Prince Charming runs out of toilet paper, we may never cross paths.
Besides waiting for kismet... The other option of course is online.
I am so not interested in online dating. But I like lists, so I pro and con'd it.
Here's what I have so far...
Pro- It's not likely that I'll meet anyone too much stranger than the shape shifters I run into on the street.
Con- It's common knowledge that shape shifting weirdos LOVE the internet.
Pro- I can check out people without them knowing.
Con- If I did that in person I would be arrested up for stalking... Which would mean I'd go to jail, where my mother would be scoping out lawyers as potential son-in-laws.
I'm still weighing the options, but in the meantime... My friend Bela Gandhi from Smart Dating Academy here in Chicago has been giving me some freebie advice.
She's pretty good... And if i dive into the e-pool, I'll count on her and smartdatingacademy.com to be my lifeguards.
She stopped by WGN's Morning News this morning and shared a few tips to increase your online dating presence.
I caught up with her behind the scenes... for a little more information, you know... just in case.
But for those of you who are looking for eLove, here's few tips to increase your winks or whatever.
Can I also just say, here's another case of internet behavior directly contradicting reality.
Online, apparently winks and pokes are good.
In real life if a bunch of random people started poking you and winking, you'd call the police.
Below, Bela's interviews on WGN and our behind the scenes chit chat.
Here is the recipe by popular request! It's the brownie with black beans that Robin tried yesterday on the Morning Show, and loved!
2 spray(s) cooking
spray, flour-variety recommended
1/2 cup(s) canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup(s) black coffee, strong
1/2 cup(s) unsalted butter
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
4 large egg(s)
1 1/4 cup(s) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp table salt
1 cup(s) all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a 9- X 13-inch pan with cooking spray; line with aluminum foil and coat foil with cooking spray.
In a blender or mini food processor, process beans with coffee until smooth; set aside.
In a double boiler over very low heat, melt butter and chocolate.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low speed, add melted chocolate to eggs; incorporate well. Add black bean mixture, vanilla and salt; mix well. Add flour; combine thoroughly on low speed.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a tester inserted in center of brownies comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove pan to a cooling rack. After 10 minutes, remove brownies from pan by pulling up on foil and placing brownies on cooling rack to cool more. Cut into 24 pieces and serve. Yields 1 piece per serving.
Customize this basic recipe with instant espresso, a teaspoon of cinnamon or 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Great served with whipped cream or powdered sugar, or topped with walnuts
Former Death Row inmate, Gordon "Randy" Steidl, listening to yesterday's Death Penalty debate in Springfield (Chicago Tribune photo)
It's not clear if Governor Pat Quinn will sign new legislation abolishing the death penalty in Illinois. But backers of the bill are urging him to sign it into law.
Understandably, there's a lot of emotion surrounding this contentious issue. Many who've lost a loved one to violence say the death penalty is punishment that fits the crime. But others point to high profile cases, like Jerry Hobbs as evidence that innocent men are sometimes sent to Death Row.
Hobbs was wrongfully imprisoned for five years, awaiting trial, accused of murdering his daughter and little friend. And prosecutors promised to seek the death penalty, if a jury were to convict him. But D-N-A evidence cleared the former Zion man of wrongdoing. And Hobbs says he was physically and psychologically abused by Lake County detectives (the North Suburban Major Crimes Task Force). And he claims he was coerced into confessing.
Over the last three decades in Illinois, 20 men have been freed from Death Row after new evidence came to light.
Yesterday, the Senate voted to approve the measure, joining the Illinois House. And if Quinn signs the bill, capital punishment will be outlawed in the Land of Lincoln. Listening in to the debate yesterday was former Death Row inmate Gordon "Randy" Steidl (see Chicago Tribune picture below). He spent 12 years in prison until D-N-A evidence cleared his name.
Where do you stand on this difficult issue? Let us know and we'll post your opinion.
I know, I know, the models we had for our workout outfits for all shapes and sizes were NOT all shapes and sizes. Quite frankly, they were all on the skinny side. I already had a viewer call about the fact that a size 14 is not on the plus size. Point well taken.
My producer and I were expecting at least more normal looking models, but now a days that seems to be close to impossible. When the lovely ladies showed up, I knew I would hear from some of you.
This is the most helpful comment I found and a possible solution for many of you:
Mary Kaye Flynn Jenrich For those who can't buy off the rack, http://www.junonia.com/ (out of Wisconsin) offers a wide variety of clothes for big girls. They are of the highest quality & wonderful to do business with.
(Lincoln, IL) A fascinating new book sheds light on the early adult years of Abraham Lincoln. Historian and professor emeritus of Lincoln College, Paul J. Beaver, has published an important new addition to the Lincoln canon, called, "Abraham Lincoln in Logan County, Illinois 1834-1860." Beaver's wonderfully illustrated, 200-page book tells the lessor-known stories of the ambitious young man with high hopes and a restless heart. On his own, and struggling to find a path in the new territory, Lincoln famously tried his hand at many occupations, in and around Logan County (northeast of Springfield).
From nearby New Salem, the future president was a farm laborer, wrestler, store owner, postmaster, flatboat hand and captain in the Blackhawk War. And that doesn't even include his later life as a lawyer, part-time judge, inventor and legislator. But did you know the "Railsplitter" was also a land surveyor? And he enlisted the help of local Indians to help him map out Logan County?
Beaver takes us back to this hardscrabble, mulit-ethnic world. To illuminate the reality of the frontier, Beaver includes passages from other works of history, such as "Memories of Middletown, Illinois" by Robert E. Church.
You'll come to understand the intensity and resourcefulness of this intelligent young man in a hurry. "It was Lincoln's tradition to hire a couple of Kickapoo Indians to make stakes to mark the way," the passage reads. "Lincoln could speak a few Kickapoo words, which he learned from his boyhood friend Konkapod, who he met while living in Indiana.
The illustration below from Beaver's book shows Lincolnwith his Kikapoo mate, surveying the strategic trade route between two of Illinois most established communites - Peoria and Springfield.
Later on, as an up-and-coming lawyer, long before he was a public figure, Lincoln used a watermelon to Christian the town of Lincoln, Illinois.
If you can't get enough of Lincoln, you'll love Beaver's new book, brimming with pictures, maps and illustrations. To pick up a copy of Abraham Lincoln in Logan County, Illinois 1834-1860, visit the Lincoln, Illinois bookstore that distributes the book (www.prairieyears.com). Or in Chicago, visit the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop on 357 W. Chicago.
He's not a household name but his name is etched in the Chicago Bears record book.
Patrick Mannelly is the Bears long snapper. He has been for the past 13 seasons.
It's specialized position. Mannelly comes in to snap the ball on punts, field goal attempts, and extra points.
You don't hear the name of a team's long snapper unless they make a mistake. We've come to expect the ball to reach the punter or holder flawlessly every time. In an interview this morning on the WGN Morning News Mannelly told us he feels very fortunate to have been with the same team for 13 years. I bet the Bears feel fortunate too.
Since joining the Bears as a sixth-round selection in the 1998 draft, Mannelly has handled the long snapping duties in all but three contests as a member of the team.
He's missed just three games in 13 years with the team. Mannelly is the the Bears career leader in games played. He's appeared in 205 regular season games. He broke the record in week three of the season against Green Bay back in September.
Mannelly recently signed a two-year contract extension. Here's hoping for two more years of relative obscurity for number 65.
Morning Show Producer
Is it a tropical Caribbean beach? Not even close. This beautiful summertime scene is a quiet section of the Indiana Dunes. That's right. You'll find this amazing place at one of Chicagoland's best-kept secrets - the picturesque, all-American town of Chesterton, Indiana. If we were Cruisin' Indiana, I'd take you to visit one of the friendliest places you'll find in the midwest (with some beautiful homes and golf courses, to boot).
The Lake Michigan shore in this region is one of the great natural wonders anywhere - the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and state park.
Our amazing WGN Midday news assignment editor, Chris Neale, lives in Chesterton. And he's always bragged about the town that looks like it jumped off a Norman Rockwell calendar. Happy new year to my friends in Chesterton!
I consulted a website we've featured many times on the show, Whatifsports.com, to predict the playoff winners. The site uses statistics to predict the outcomes of games. The calculations include a number of things, including weather. I've run the games through and here are your winners.
Bears 23 Seahawks 9
(Hasselback throws 2 INT)
Packers 41 Falcons 3
Jets 28 Patriots 20
Steelers 30 Ravens 7
We minions behind the scenes have been invited to share some of our stories on the WGN Morning News Blog, so here's what I've mined out of a 30 second phone call with Mama's Boy Otis Wilson of the 85 Chicago Bears:
I was calling Otis to see if he'd be nice enough to join us for a little pre-game discussion before the Bears playoff game next week. I found the number to his foundation and dialed the number, prepared to talk to someone who would put me in touch with someone who can find Otis. Much to my surprise, Otis himself answered the phone. Holy crap, I'm talking to one of Chicago's Super Bowl heroes from my teenage years! Immediately, I felt like Chris Farley in the famous skit from SNL with Paul McCartney.
Me: Um, Otis?
Me: D-d-do you remember that time you were in the Super Bowl?
Me: That was cool.
I put it together enough to explain why I was calling. He told me about some other obligations that would keep him from doing anything until the last week of January. I said, "we'll hit you up again if the Bears are still in it at that point" (which would mean they are in the Super Bowl). He laughed. He knows. We all know it.
Morning Show Producer
(Chicago) O.K., I confess. I'm an idiot. Despite 1-in-175-million odds of winning the $355 million Mega Million jackpot, I was counting my chickens this week (before they hatched). I didn't call a financial planner, but I found myself dreaming about what I'd do with the cash money, after winning the massive jackpot.
Were you counting chickens this week? Here's a fun look at what people were thinking.
For many Chicagoans, it's an inalienable right of city living. FREE lakefront festivals and concerts are part of the package, when you live on the shores of Lake Michigan. But that happy Chicago tradition faces extinction, according to the Sun-Times. The city wants to privatize the management of half-a-dozen Summer festivals, including the famous Taste of Chicago.
Sagging attendance and tough economic times have turned lakefront festivals into money losers, city leaders say. Chicago reportedly lost $7 million dollars the last few years, operating "Taste" and a host of lakefront festivals.
So not suprisingly, the plan is to charge attendance fees ($8 if you're not buying food or $20 which includes $10 worth of food tickets), is going over like a lead balloon.
The food and entertainment group bidding for the festivals (Celebrate Chicago, LLC) says admission fees will allow to bring in big-name musical acts (but you'll have to pay to buy tickets to hear them).
Not suprisingly, the news is getting a frosty, sub-zero reception in Chicago. What do you think about the plan to privatize the "Taste?" And charge $10 admission fees for Jazzfest or Bluesfest? Tell me what you think.
I try to keep my kids busy, when they're not doing homework or playing sports. So to earn some extra allowance money (and keep them off the X-Box), we put them to work at Crews, Inc. (aka, Old Havana Foods).
Walk into my living room, most any Saturday afternoon, and you'll see the kids helping me assemble shrink-wrapped KITS of Cuban black beans and Chili Cubano. My son, Tony, sticks on price-tag labels while my daughter, Julia, ties on the recipe neck tags. I'll stack the KITS into boxes and carry them out to the car (for delivery to Chicago-area grocery stores).
The kids spend an hour or two at the most, helping me out. Sometimes they get pulled away by a neighborhood kid, looking for someone to play with. But we usually manage to get some work done.
Usually we have the TV on, watching cartoons or PBS, while we do our family "chores." And I reward them later with cash (hopefully teaching them a lesson about the value of hard work). We have fun while we're doing it, joking around or talking about things the kids want to discuss. And though it's a sacrifice at times (taking us away from things we'd rather be doing), all-in-all, it's been a great experience. And it brings us together.
I don't know if my fledgling family enterprise will survive these economic hard times. But hopefully we're learning lessons about working together as a family and fighting to build something for the future.