* Pfleger does have a point, but the governor’s anti-violence program is in definite need of a thorough legislative examination…
South Side activists denounced “cul-de-sac” critics Monday and called for more cash — not less — for anti-violence programs such as Gov. Pat Quinn’s troubled Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.
The Rev. Michael Pfleger and former state Sen. Alice Palmer were among those who appeared at a news conference at The Ark of St. Sabina in the Gresham neighborhood to support the now disbanded program that was assailed in a blistering audit last month and is now facing a steady drumbeat of negative headlines. […]
“It angers me when people from Lemont and Palatine and Springfield, and suburbs all around Illinois, love to launch their attack on programs that seek to reach the most at-risk youth in our city,” Pfleger said. “It also bothers me that they never come to the South Side or to the West Side to say, ‘What can we do? How can we help? How can we stop this carnage of blood in our streets?’”
Pfleger and others shared troubling statistics — 216 school-age children killed in Chicago in 2010, 92 percent of black male teens unemployed in 2012 — and said success stories within the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative are being ignored, including “thousands of lives that were saved.”
“There are good and bad things about every state program, but why must we always concentrate on the bad when it involves youths on the South and West Sides?” said Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Church in Auburn Gresham. “I am sick and tired of people who do not live in our community and have never been to our community telling us what’s good for us.” […]
“Across the state 85 percent of black teens are unemployed. Across the city it is 89 percent,” said Jack Wuest, executive director of the nonprofit Alternative Schools Network, citing a January report by his organization. “Young blacks males in the city living with families earning less than $20,000 a year are 95 percent unemployed. This is an epidemic that has to be addressed in a broader fashion.”
Alice Palmer, a community activist, worked with 80 South Shore youths in programming supported by the initiative in 2010, including some who went on to get further training.
“These young people were well-received by businesses because they brought a positive message,” she said. “We have one young lady who is in nursing school thanks to the training and motivation she received from the neighborhood program.”
* According to an internal e-mail exchange posted by the Sun-Times in its original story, Ms. Palmer apparently knew the guy who allegedly killed his cohort during an alleged home invasion…
In a 2012 email, Betts identified Alice Palmer as his organization’s point person in the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative’s Mentoring Plus Jobs program for South Shore, of which Brown and Bufford were a part.
Palmer served in the Illinois Senate, involuntarily relinquishing her seat in 1997 to Barack Obama after being knocked off the ballot because her nominating petitions were insufficient. While Betts would not do so, a Quinn administration source confirmed the woman Betts referred to is the former state senator. Messages left at multiple phone numbers tied to Palmer were not returned Thursday.
“Dr. Palmer has first-hand familiarity with the youth involved in this tragic incident,” Betts said in his Aug. 8, 2012, email response to Barbara Shaw in which he promised to develop a “more formal response strategy” to the murder.
It would be nice to see her testify about this mess.