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Adler and Lincoln Park Zoo Launch Citizen Science Projectposted September 15th, 2014
Since early this year, Lincoln Park Zoo researchers have been collecting pictures of animals that walk past a network of motion activated cameras. Now the Urban Wildlife Institute is partnering with the Adler Planetarium to analyze the thousands of images. Laura Whyte is the coordinator of Adler’s citizen science initiatives. She says the Chicago Wildlife Watch asks visitors to identify the animals to assess the region’s bio-diversity. Whyte tells WDCB News the project might even deliver some surprises. She says when ever you're exploring and learning about your environment there's always a chance that something you didn't expect will appear. Whyte says that chance for discovery is what makes doing scientific research so exciting. She says the results will help urban planners takes the region’s wildlife into consideration when approving projects. Previous citizen science initiatives asked people to identify galaxy types from photographs of the universe. The Chicago Wildlife Watch relies on the same sort of pattern matching ability to identify animals. Whyte says it’s a task that’s easy for people…but not something computers can reliably accomplish.
Expo Chicago Continues City's Art Fair Legacyposted September 15th, 2014
Chicago’s modern art fair tradition continues this weekend. The third annual Expo Chicago will open its doors at Navy Pier. But three years ago it was unclear if there would ever be another contemporary art exposition held in Chicago. For decades, the event known as Art Chicago was held at Navy Pier. Merchandise Mart Properties eventually took over the fair and cancelled it in 2012. One-time Art Chicago vice president Tony Karman launched Expo Chicago later that same year. He tells WDCB News there’s a lot of pressure to maintain the city’s art fair legacy. Expo Chicago opens Friday and runs through Sunday.
Elmhurst-based Citizen Advocacy Center Celebrates 20th Anniversaryposted September 12th, 2014
The Elmhurst-based Citizen Advocacy Center is celebrating its 20th anniversary. For the past two decades, the non-profit has created education programs, helped shape policy and provided community resources, all in an effort to promote civic engagement. Former Citizen Advocacy Center executive director Terry Pastika says the organization was founded in 1994 with a simple mission to improve democracy. She tells WDCB News the Center’s doors have always beenopen to anyone who has a question. The Citizen Advocacy Center has become a resource for people with Freedom of Information Act questions, in part because the organization helped write Illinois’ FOIA laws that went into effect a few years ago.
Solar: The Next Wave of Clean Energy in Illinoisposted September 12th, 2014
While regulators, businesses, and environmentalists debate fracking in Illinois, another energy option is moving forward. State Senator Tom Cullerton and State Representative Deb Conroy hosted a workshop this week on the state of solar power. Illinois Sierra Club Director Jack Darin says it’s the obvious next step in development of clean energy. He tells WDCB News Illinois is on the verge of a leap forward on solar power. Darin says it's particularly promising for urban and suburban areas where there are thousands of roof tops. He says they could be producing pollution free electricity and putting electricians and other tradesmen to work. Darin says big-box retail stores, warehouses, and other commercial buildings are an opportunity for solar power generation. He says wind energy created more than 20,000 jobs in the past 10 years, and solar could have a similar benefit for the state’s economy.
Former Journalist Asks "Why We Don't Win Wars Anymore"?posted September 11th, 2014
Wednesday night, President Barack Obama laid out his plan to eradicate Islamic State extremists. Obama promised to “hunt down” terrorists who threaten the U.S., but maintained the expanded military campaign would not involve additional American troops on the ground. Critics have complained about the President’s handling of the ISIS situation in recent weeks. Former Washington Post military correspondent and national security journalist Thomas Ricks is among them. Ricks tells WDCB News Obama’s foreign policy decisions have been flawed. Ricks will deliver a lecture tonight at Elmhurst College titled “Why We Don’t Win Wars Anymore”.
United Nations Agency Warns Greenhouse Gases Are At Record Levelsposted September 11th, 2014
A report this week from the World Meteorological Organization ratchets up concerns about global warming. The WMO is an arm of the United Nations. It says greenhouse gases are now at record levels. Researchers say carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 396 parts per million in 2013. Evan DeLucia is the Director of Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment at the University of Illinois. He tells WDCB News the research suggests things are getting worse at a faster pace than expected. DeLucia says things that researchers thought would happen in 100 years, will now likely become a reality in 40 to 50 years. He says the change isn't something he'll see during his lifetime, but his children will have to adapt to a very different world in terms of climate. DeLucia expects warmer temperatures and bigger swings between hot and cold, and wet and dry periods. He says those changes will force farmers to adapt to new crops and could affect the nation’s food supply.
Cronin Unveils Proposed FY 2015 Budgetposted September 10th, 2014
DuPage County Board chairman Dan Cronin unveiled his budget proposal for fiscal year 2015 at yesterday’s county board meeting. The proposed $447.2 million spending plan is similar to this year’s budget. Cronin tells WDCB News despite some encouraging sales tax projections … no new spending was added to next year’s budget. The DuPage County board has until November 30th to approve the spending plan.
Advocacy Group Says Crosswalk Safety Is Still An Issueposted September 10th, 2014
Five years ago, Illinois lawmakers passed the ‘must stop’ law to protect pedestrians; but the law hasn’t changed driver behavior. The Chicago based Active Transportation Alliance says fewer than 20 percent of drivers stop when someone steps into a marked crosswalk. Compliance falls to five percent at unmarked crosswalks. The Alliance’s Kyle Whitehead says the law is meant to reduce the number pedestrian fatalities and injuries. He tells WDCB News obviously motorists haven’t gotten the message. Whitehead says the law applies whether a crosswalk is marked or not and a crosswalk is defined as anywhere a sidewalk leads into a street. He says at any of those places drivers must stop for a pedestrian that is attempting to cross. The Active Transportation Alliance wants to improve driver awareness of the law; but it also favors increase enforcement. Chicago police have conducted sting operations to ticket drivers who don’t stop when an undercover officer steps into a crosswalk. Whitehead would like to see that done more frequently.
Proposed Chicago Food Cart Ordinance Hasn't Movedposted September 9th, 2014
While many U.S. cities have eagerly embraced mobile food vendors, Chicago stands out for its policies outlawing most food carts. Last month, the city granted an “emerging business” license to a non-profit to sell healthy foods in old newsstands. Beth Kregor is the director of the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago. She doesn’t understand why the city was so eager to allow food stands on select corners, but has ignored requests to legalize food carts for the rest of the city. Kregor tells WDCB News her hope is this opens the door to more mobile food vending changes. Kregor developed a proposed ordinance that would allow vendors to operate food carts in Chicago. It was first introduced to the city council this past May, but the proposal hasn’t gone anywhere.
Nearly 90,000 DuPage Residents Have Literacy Issuesposted September 9th, 2014
One of the biggest hurdles collar county food pantries and shelters face is letting people know hunger and homelessness are a problem. The county’s literacy agency, Literacy DuPage also has to deal with awareness when it tries to recruit volunteers. Bernie Steiger is the advocacy group’s Executive Director. She tells WDCB News nearly 10 percent of DuPage County’s residents need literacy assistance. Steiger says data from the U-S Census Bureau shows more than 85,000 speak english "less than well." She says that is a true reflection of the amount of demographic change DuPage County has exeperienced over the past 20 years. Limited mass transit can also make it hard for people that want to get help, that’s why Literacy DuPage relies on volunteer tutors. Steiger hopes literacy awareness month will encourage more people to give some of their time to help one of their neighbors.
State House Panel Discusses Education Funding Reformposted September 8th, 2014
A group of State House Democrats wants to see a plan to reform education funding move forward. Representative Will Davis is chairman of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Appropriations committee. The Hazel Crest Democrat is pushing a plan the State Senate approved, but the House failed to consider during the spring session. The proposal would allocate state funding to districts based on need. Despite that, Davis tells WDCB News it isn’t about pitting poor districts against wealthier collar county schools. He says education funding isn't a competition between the various parts of the state. Davis says if all lawmakers are involved educating young people and agree it's a priority, they must recognize there is a problem and then agree on a solution. Davis hopes the House will consider the school funding reform proposal after the first of the year. He hopes to have legislative hearings on the matter after the November election.