NATO Summit: Clinton, NATO Dignitaries Appear at Wrigley

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton makes her way into Wrigley Field on Saturday night. (Photo by Sean McDonough)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton makes her way into Wrigley Field on Saturday night. (Photo by Sean McDonough)

By Sean McDonough

(Story originally posted  May 18, 2012 on The Red Line Project)

The Red Line Project:  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in attendance Saturday night as the Cubs hosted the White Sox in a rare weekend night game at Wrigley Field.

Clinton is in Chicago this weekend to attend the NATO summit, which officially begins Sunday with meetings that continue through Monday.

Clinton arrived via motorcade nearly 30 minutes before the game started and was accompanied by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Senator Dick Durbin, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and General John Allen, the top U.S commander in Afghanistan, who threw out the game’s first pitch.

Clinton, a Park Ridge native and lifelong Cubs fan, waved and smiled at fans as she entered the ballpark through the Cubs executive offices entrance on the Southwest end of the field. Clinton proved her fandom by staying until the very end of the game despite her Cubs losing, 7-4.

As she departed, Clinton shook hands and exchanged words with groups of Cubs and White Sox fans.

With so many political powerhouses on hand, many thought that the Occupy protest groups would pay Wrigley Field a visit, but none showed.

But media outlets armed with cameras, hundreds of Chicago Police officers and the Secret Service did show. The police traveled in groups as they patrolled the perimeters of the ballpark. Even Garry McCarthy, superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, made a brief appearance to check in on his the officers.

Protesters weren’t the only thing lacking Saturday night. With the group of dignitaries in attendance, many expected Wrigley Field to feature tighter security, especially at the entrance gates. Instead, the Friendly Confines resembled its typical self as excited fans flowed smoothly through the gates to take in the ballgame on what was a beautiful, 80-degree evening.

Ticket collectors were not accompanied by extra security guards and there were no metal-detecting wands. Bags were searched, but that is common for MLB games.

The Cubs and the city announced on Thursday that several streets surrounding Wrigley Field would be closed as an added security precaution, but none were actually shut down except for parts of Waveland, Sheffield, and Addison, which are ordinarily closed to vehicles before, during and after Cubs games.

Police on hand were confused about which streets might be closed and what time they would be blockaded. Minutes before the start of the game, an officer admitted to an inquiring bystander that neither he nor his fellow officers had been notified about any street-closing strategy.

The relationship between fans and the police was civil and respectful. There were no clashes between the two, but one man was aggressively questioned by a group of police. The man insisted he was a reporter and that he was just doing his job. He produced what looked like proper credentials. Yet, he was thoroughly searched and taken away by the police for further questioning, only to be released minutes later and allowed to go about his business.

Few blamed the summit for causing travel pains on their way to the game.

Marty Grove, 49, was one of many who took a charter bus; Patrick Louie, 23, rode the red line; Steven and Shannan Bargle drove right into Wrigleyville. None of them expressed frustration about the summit for causing any travel inconveniences.

But on his way from Indiana to Chicago, 21-year-old Eric Fort said traffic from the summit caused an hour delay to his commute. As they spilled out of the ballpark, fans were in agreement that security precautions did not seem out of the ordinary and that Saturday’s game did not resemble anything other than a typical trip to Wrigley Field.

“It was nothing different than what we normally see at a normal Cubs game,” said Chris Quevedo, 27, a Streamwood resident.

“It felt pretty normal,” added Amanda Raddock, 21, of Chicago.

NATO Summit:Q & A with DePaul’s J.D. Bindenagel, Former U.S. Ambassador to Germany

DePaul’s J.D. Bindenagel (Photo by Sean McDonough)

By Sean McDonough

 (Story originally posted May 4, 2012 on The Red Line Project)

The Red Line ProjectJ.D. Bindenagel served for more than a quarter-century in foreign service on behalf of the United States, including a role as acting Ambassador to Germany in 1997.

Currently the vice president for Community, Government, and International Affairs at DePaul University, Bindenagel shared his thoughts on the upcoming NATO summit, scheduled for May 20-21 at McCormick Place.

Q: Which major issues do you expect to be discussed at the NATO summit?

A: Specifically, there will be issues of course in Afghanistan: When we leave, what we leave behind, [and] what the role of NATO will be in the future is probably the leading issue that will be discussed. What’s happening in Syria and Iran will play a very, very critical role.

Q: What should Chicagoans expect?

A: These issues that we just discussed will put Chicago in the center of the world. “All the world is watching,” is what I like to say. They will be looking to see Chicago, never having seen what Chicago is and how it works and how we live. It will be a very good, strong way for Chicago and the people of Chicago to showcase the great city we have.

Click here for the full story.

TOUT: Reaction to Celtics-Hawks Game 5

The Atlanta Hawks bested the Boston Celtics in a Game 5 thriller Tuesday night, 87-86. The game came down to a stolen inbound pass by Celtics guard, Rajon Rondo, with 10 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. With his team trailing by one, Rondo stole the pass in the Celtics’ defensive zone and dribbled the ball the length of the court but was unable to create a Celtics scoring chance as he was forced to into the corner near the Atlanta bench where Hawks center, Al Horford trapped Rondo and forced a game-ending turnover. The Celtics lead the series, 3-2, and will host the Hawks in Boston at the TD Garden Thursday night.

Here is my reaction to the game via TOUT.

Niche news strategies in “Newsonomics”

By Sean McDonough

In chapter three of his book, Newsonomics, Ken Doctor explains how the rapid decline of newspapers has led to the emergence of a new type of news media whose content is focused on local stories and is found not within the primitive pages of “the paper,” but rather entirely online.

The title Doctor gives his chapter is “Newsonomics Law No. 3: Local: Remap and Reload.”  Doctor clarifies that “Remap” pertains to rebranding what the news industry deems “local.” Locality should no longer be classified in general terms, says Doctor. Instead, the word should be aggregated to stand for coverage of something that is more local than local itself, like a specific neighborhood, city block, or zip code.

Further, “Reload” is meant to be understood in the news reporting world as “reloading new ways of who’s doing journalism.” In other words, it’s time to reinvent and innovate the way news is reported, says Doctor.

According to Doctor, print media has been quickly decreasing: From the amount of people employed in newsrooms to the very makeup of a daily newspaper, including the height and width to the amount of stories it contains.

The explanation for the downsizing is simple. There aren’t enough reporters to cover daily beats that formerly contained the bulk of papers. Doctor asserts that daily newspapers today contain at least 20 percent fewer stories produced by 20 percent fewer newsroom staff. This adds up to a decline in the amount of local stories being reported in daily papers across the nation.

As always, where one person falters, another arrives to claim whatever might be left behind. And in terms of local and even hyper-local news coverage, online start-ups have become the ones reaping the benefits from the commonly misplayed market of local news coverage.

Online start-ups such as MinnPost, Crosscut, and Voice of San Diego let the major networks cover national news and even the most newsworthy stories in their cities while they seek other opportunities to cover stories that are more locally sensitive to their readership.

Doctor’s quote used in chapter three from thirty-one-year-old Andrew Donahue, editor of the Voice of San Diego sums up much of these local start-ups strategy: “We don’t need people someone covering the birth at the (San Diego) zoo . . . The three TV stations are already doing that,” he says.

The movies from a different view: The Brew and View

The DePaulia Online  (Originally posted on Depaulia Online on 3/19/12)

By Sean McDonough

Crowded theaters, tickets costing more than $10, and unreasonably priced popcorn and beverages are just a few reasons to give movie-goers pause when planning a night in front of the big screen. But if you’re still trying to have a fun evening at the movies and don’t mind being carded to see “The Muppets” or seeing a movie a few weeks after its premier, then the Brew and View could be the place for you.

You might question whether you have even heard of the Brew and View (3145 N. Sheffield at Sheffield and Belmont), but think again, especially if you have ever seen a concert at the Vic Theatre. That’s because the Brew and View and the Vic are one in the same – well, sort of. The Brew and View, characterized as “the Vic’s alter ego” operates mostly during weekday evenings and on Sundays when the Vic isn’t hosting a concert or comedy team.

Instead of a band, the stage is occupied by a giant movie screen. And in place of hundreds of screaming, dancing, raving, rolling concert-goers are circular, high-top café tables with accompanying chairs lining the theater floor. And really, that’s the only difference between the Vic and the Brew and View. There aren’t any decorations aimed to disguise the classical-looking venue’s red and gold-plated walls and balconies – it’s just a concert hall cleverly doubling as a movie theater.

The Vic Theater

The Vic doubles as the Brew and View during most weekday evenings. Picture by Sean McDonough

The Brew and View has familiar features to traditional movie theaters: the unmistakable aroma of buttery popcorn greeting patrons as they enter the theater; the sound of candy boxes being torn open; customers slurping soda cups, mixed with the dark, ominous setting are all reminders that you really are at the movies.

But what makes the Brew and View different is also what makes it so popular. Rather than paying $12.50 for a ticket at a conventional theater, the Brew and View charges just $5 for double and triple features (the crowd typically becomes more animated toward the second and third shows). And if you prefer a frosty-cold beer in place of a Coca-Cola or ICEE, well then you’re in luck because the Brew and View’s deal-breaking feature is its full bar, offering drink specials like $3 drafts as if the owners empathize with the pain our wallets feel when forced into shelling out $6 for a medium fountain drink at traditional theaters.

Moreover, the Brew and View turns dinner and a movie into dinner with a movie by providing guests menus from local restaurants where they can call in a take-out order and have it delivered right to the theater.

Consider the Brew and View a movie theatre for the college-aged and recent college graduates. If you’re still worrying about getting into R-rated movies, well forget about the Brew and View because proper 21-and-over identification is required at the door due to alcohol being served. The movies shown are typically recently-released ones or older comedy classics. For example, “The Muppets,” “Young Adult,” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” comprised the triple-feature the week of March 9-15.

Jim O’Connell, a University of Illinois alumni and Lakeview resident, visited the Brew and View with a group of friends after getting tickets on Groupon.

“I absolutely enjoyed the experience. It goes in line with what I like about Clark Street, Belmont, and Broadway — that whole area has quirky, independent shops that make for a unique experience. It’s a great neighborhood asset, great for a cheap date, and a great place to relax with friends if there’s nothing really going on,” he said.

So if you don’t want to break the bank on an expensive date-night, head to the Brew and View for a cheap flick, a cold beer, and even a Domino’s Pizza in 30 minutes or less.

Chicago Sidelines essay: Rethinking DePaul’s move to Big East

By Sean McDonough

When DePaul University left Conference USA for the Big East in 2005-06, the move was generally understood by those who follow sports as a motive aimed to reestablish credibility to DePaul’s sports program, specifically its once-proud men’s basketball program. And since the Big East has historically been prominent in basketball, it seemed like a perfect fit.

But since its exodus from the now-evaporating Conference USA, DePaul men’s basketball has amassed a 25-97 conference record (a .205 win-percentage) in its six years in the Big East. Although DePaul has struggled mightily in with its premier sport since the move, DePaul’s move to the Big East in 2005-06 was certainly in the best interest of the athletic department as a whole, and for the university in general because of major benefits that stem from membership in a major conference, including increased media exposure and association with other member schools who excel in athletics and academics.

Currently, DePaul’s presence in the Big East isn’t entirely beneficial, and the institution and the conference are equally blameworthy.

Read the rest of the essay at Chicago Sidelines

Super Tuesday: Romney picks up most delegates,Ohio

The DePaulia

By Sean McDonough

Mitt Romney reaffirmed his position as the favorite to win the GOP presidential nomination, as the former Massachusetts Governor won six of 10 states that held primaries Super Tuesday. Rick Santorum took three states, and Newt Gingrich won his home state of Georgia.

Alaska, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, Vermont, Tennessee, Idaho, Georgia, Virginia, North Dakota and Ohio all voted Tuesday.

Santorum, who is viewed by many as the most viable alternative to Romney, was able to bolster credibility to his campaign by winning Oklahoma, Tennessee and North Dakota, along with a closely contested second-place finish in Ohio, which was Tuesday’s most sought after contest. Santorum’s three wins will be portrayed as momentum for his grass-roots campaign and will figure to keep the former Pennsylvania senator in the race for the long haul.

But the biggest prize Tuesday went to Romney in the form of a win in Ohio, where he narrowly edged out Santorum. Romney’s 38% of the vote bested Santorum’s 37%, as approximately 12,000 votes represented the difference maker in the one percentage point victory.

Ohio is seen as crucial because of its status as a major battleground state in the general election. Although Romney secured the win, the less-than-decisive win will be viewed as more of a moral victory because he was not able to separate himself from the rest of the field, something a larger win margin would have done.

“There’s a great deal of divide within the Republican Party,” said Wayne Steger, a political science professor at DePaul. “It’s not narrow, it’s still an open race.”

Romney’s victory in Ohio came down to his ability to win counties of the state’s three major cities and their suburbs: Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. In Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland is located, Romney handily defeated Santorum by winning 49% of the vote to Santorum’s 30%. Moreover, Romney also won big in Hamilton County, where Cincinnati is located, in which he also received 49% to Santorum’s 22%.

On the other side of the spectrum, Santorum won decisively in Ohio’s more rural counties, where he centered much of his campaign on trying to appeal to middle-class factory workers, one of his key demographics.

David H. Kalsbeek, senior vice president of DePaul, who spent much of his life in Cincinnati, said he was not surprised Santorum did well in rural Ohio. “Santorum speaks the rural message,” he said. Kalsbeek added that Romney’s success in Cleveland and Columbus didn’t shock him either because those areas of Ohio tend to lean toward the center of the political divide.

Unlike Ohio, the results of the other Super Tuesday contests surprised very few. Romney and Gingrich both had convincing wins in their home states of Massachusetts and Georgia, respectively. Romney won 72% of the vote in his home-state, whereas Gingrich received 47% of the Georgia vote to earn his second primary win.

“I’m not surprised [by Romney’s success]. He’s been the favored candidate the whole race,” said Sandy Schoeneich, a junior at DePaul who majors in health studies.

Romney’s win in Virginia was more of a formality because only he and Texas Congressman Ron Paul appeared on the ballot. Additionally, the Mormon vote in Idaho enabled Romney to cruise to an easy victory, garnering 62% of the vote. Romney’s wins in Vermont and the Bay State bolstered his presence in New England, adding to previous wins in New Hampshire and Maine.

The former governor also added Alaska to his list of primaries won.

Romney’s second-place finishes in Tennessee and Oklahoma reinforce the notion that he will not fare well in most southern states, whose populations tend to be more conservative-leaning. Thus, wins in both of those states will be seen as big moral victories for Santorum who believes he is the only true conservative in the race.

Santorum’s PAC, Red, White and Blue Fund, has called for Gingrich to exit the race. “With Gingrich exiting the race it would be a true head-to-head race and conservatives would be able to make a choice between a consistent conservative in Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney. For instance, with Gingrich out of the race Santorum would have won both Ohio and Michigan,” Red, White and Blue Fund adviser Stuart Roy said.

The GOP race will now set its sights on Alabama, Hawaii and Missouri caucuses.

(Note: Story originally ran in The DePaulia, March 12 edition)

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