Amber Smock, advocacy director: It empowers people with disabilities to make their own choices including where they live. (Photo by Irish Mae Silvestre)
It’s 11 a.m. and while only a handful of people wait in the bright, airy lobby, the phone rings almost nonstop.
“Hello, this is Pat,” greeted a cheery voice. “How may I direct your call?”
Patricia McMullan, Access Living receptionist (Photo by Irish Mae Silvestre)
It’s just a regular day for Patricia McMullan, who has worked as a receptionist at Access Living for 17 years.
For a newcomer, it’s hard to understand exactly what goes on at Access Living, located at 115 W. Chicago Ave. An impressive four-story glass and brick structure, its gleaming façade gives little away. But a closer look reveals subtle clues: wide hallways, a mid-block ramp on the sidewalk, a six-foot poster of a paralympian basketball player and a metal engraving of the organization’s name in Braille.
It’s a place that embodies the values that it represents. Continue reading
Photo: Fox News
Check out our extensive coverage of the the highly-anticipated third presidential debate from every angle. Tonight’s debate at Lynn University, Boca Raton, Florida will focus on foreign policy issues. We’ll also take a look behind the scenes and look for proof to support each candidates’ arguments.
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Dr. Scott Hibbard, associate professor in the Department of Political Science at DePaul University (Photo by Irish Mae Silvestre)
First, there was presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s highly publicized Mormonism. Then, there was the anti-Islamic movie promotion video that sparked riots across the Middle East.
Religion has long been used as an effective campaign tool, according to Dr. Scott Hibbard, associate professor in the department of political science at DePaul University. From “Innocence of Muslims” to Mormonism, he discussed how religion has played out in this year’s elections.
Q. Why is religion important in a presidential campaign?
A: [Religion] is a way of differentiating yourself from your opponent. Republican campaign strategists have used this since the 1960′s by promoting a conservative understanding of religion as a way of differentiating themselves from the Democrats and providing a religious language to the conservative religious positions.
Q. How does it come into play in the current presidential campaigns?
A: In various ways. Typically, religion comes into play in the context of a cultural war on issues such as abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, etc. For a variety of reasons, the Romney campaign has sought not to pursue those divisive issues as a way of mobilizing the space. Instead, he’s focusing more on economic issues.
Noel Praetz, the deputy director of election for Cook County Illinois, discussed the benefits of the new mail-sorting machine. Photo credit: Mike Reilley
Cook County election officials expect absentee ballots to increase and have bought new mail-sorting equipment to make the ballot counting process more efficient.
The technology is part of increased efforts to meet voters’ need for a more convenient way to cast their ballots, said Noah Praetz, Cook County deputy director of elections.
The system was purchased through a federal grant that’s part of the 2002 Help America Vote Act. The nationwide voting reform was a reaction to the controversial elections of 2000.
As a result, Cook County received $25 million in federal funds to create a voting system that’s secure, accurate and easier for voters to navigate. The solution: a brand new $216,964 mail-sorting machine unveiled in March 2012.
“The idea is that the election equipment was a contributing factor in some of the dysfunction of the [voting system],” Praetz said.
He added that a mere 25,000 ballots were returned during the 2008 elections but remains optimistic about the results of the new system.
“I think we could double, triple, even quadruple that this year,” Praetz said.