Lester: McDonald video lawyer also part of U-46 bias case

 
 
Updated 12/10/2015 11:31 AM
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  • Craig Futterman, right, a University of Chicago law professor, addresses media in 2007 with other members of a police watchdog group. At the time the federal government announced it was launching a wide-ranging civil rights investigation into Chicago police brutality.

    Craig Futterman, right, a University of Chicago law professor, addresses media in 2007 with other members of a police watchdog group. At the time the federal government announced it was launching a wide-ranging civil rights investigation into Chicago police brutality. Associated Press

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct Mark Giangreco's name.

The shooting of a 17-year-old black teen by a Chicago police officer has become a national story, due in large part to a steady outcry from a law professor who has ties to major school desegregation cases in the suburbs.

Craig Futterman, a University of Chicago professor and civil rights attorney, helped win the release of the video showing officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald. Futterman became interested in the case after a confidential source tipped him off to the existence of the police dash-cam video and described it to him as nothing less than an "execution."

Elgin and Rockford

Futterman's former law firm represented the plaintiffs of the class action racial bias suit against Elgin Area School District U-46, which was filed after a group of parents claimed 2004 school boundary changes forced minority children into older, more crowded schools and deprived them of the same quality education as their white peers. The school board agreed to a $2.5 million settlement in 2014. Futterman also successfully litigated a suit against the Rockford Board of Education in the 1990s.

Campaign work

Evanston resident Pete Giangreco (yes, he's the brother of ABC 7's Mark Giangreco) of The Strategy Group is doing direct mail for Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez's contentious re-election bid against fellow Democrats Kim Foxx and Donna More, I've learned.

What's with that?

Meanwhile, I had the chance to ask More about a $2,500 September 2014 campaign donation to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, and rumors that she might really be a Republican. More describes herself as an "independent Democrat" and said she felt it "wasn't working" in Springfield with the governor's office and both houses of the legislature controlled by Democrats. She says she's disappointed in Rauner's performance so far. "It didn't work out the way that I thought, in terms of getting things done," she said. Meanwhile, Republican fundraiser Lori Montana dropped $1,000 in More's war chest this fall, records show.

Key role in wind project

A member of SWCA Environmental Consultants assesses a bat habitat as part of the company's work on an alternative energy transmission line.
A member of SWCA Environmental Consultants assesses a bat habitat as part of the company's work on an alternative energy transmission line. - courtesy of SwcA Environmental consultants

Joe Fluder, chief operating officer of Warrenville-based SWCA Environmental Consultants, tells me that his company has been selected as the winning bid for the Grain Belt Express project to develop its permitting and environmental compliance plan. That means working with dozens of state agencies to make sure permits are in place for the transmission line to stretch through water crossings, wetlands, and habitats where fish and wildlife call home. The $2 billion project would go from Western Kansas to Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. The Illinois portion -- crossing through the central swath of the state -- was approved by the state's Commerce Commission in mid-November.

Wish you were here, Judy

Joseph Topinka, son of late Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, speaks during a public memorial for his mother on Dec. 17, 2014, in Countryside, Ill. Topinka died Dec. 10, 2014, after suffering complications from a stroke.
Joseph Topinka, son of late Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, speaks during a public memorial for his mother on Dec. 17, 2014, in Countryside, Ill. Topinka died Dec. 10, 2014, after suffering complications from a stroke. - AP Photo/Sun-Times Media, Ashlee Rezin

It's been a year today since state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka passed. The moderate Republican (not to mention a fiery redhead with an affinity for dancing the polka) was known for reaching across the aisle. And former aides have remarked to me that Judy "would have been going crazy" with the current budget impasse.

Opposing discrimination

I'm tipped by the Viatorian Rev. Corey Brost that religious leaders from 11 Christian and Jewish congregations in the suburbs will gather Thursday afternoon to decry discrimination based on faith, in response to public discussions about the treatment of Muslims in the country, including statements by GOP presidential bidder Donald Trump. The interfaith coalition was formed more than 20 years ago in response to anti-semitic vandalism in the suburbs.

Warm and Fuzzy

Mallory Coil of Palatine has collected 123 fleece blankets this year to deliver to patients at Lurie Children's Hospital.
Mallory Coil of Palatine has collected 123 fleece blankets this year to deliver to patients at Lurie Children's Hospital. - courtesy of Lindsay coil

Mallory Coil, a 5-year-old kindergartner from Palatine, delivered 123 blankets to the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago this year as part of her annual blanket brigade project. Mom Lindsay tells me the project, now in its third year, developed out of a desire to instill a "servant's heart" into her three children with an Advent service project. Neighbors and friends from around the suburbs and beyond volunteered to make the hand-tied fleece blankets to be delivered to hospital patients, expanding the project beyond initial expectation. To date, Lindsay Coil says, the "brigade" has delivered 890 blankets to Lurie's. Here's a picture of Mallory with quite a stack.

Selfie

Dann Gire, left, and his editor Lisa Friedman Miner. She edits his movie reviews now, but that's not what he started his career with.
Dann Gire, left, and his editor Lisa Friedman Miner. She edits his movie reviews now, but that's not what he started his career with. -

Here's award-winning Daily Herald film critic Dann Gire, left, and his editor Lisa Friedman Miner, on Gire's 40th anniversary celebration at the company this week. Gire tells me he started in 1975 as a local government reporter, covering several different beats, including courts, before becoming the paper's movie critic in 1978.

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