No Ground Is Sacred When It
Comes to O'Hare Expansion
Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley seems to have a thing about airport runways. Last year, he sent bulldozers to gut downtown Meigs Field in the middle of the night, earning the wrath of airline workers and a $33,000 fine announced last month by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Now, moving to expand overcrowded O'Hare International Airport, he is doing battle with churches and the relatives of hundreds of people buried in graveyards that lie in the path of a new runway design. Old bones, the city has decided, will not stand in the way of $15 billion worth of aviation progress.
"We're aware there's some sensitivity whenever it comes to relocating cemeteries and things of that sort," said Roderick Drew, chief spokesman for the O'Hare Modernization Program. "Our task, once we've found the next of kin, is to give them the option of relocating to another cemetery they want."
The custodians of the 155-year-old St. Johannes Cemetery and neighboring Rest Haven Cemetery have teamed with churchgoers and local governments to block the move. The Illinois Conference of Churches protested a legislative maneuver that exempts Chicago from state laws designed to protect religious property. The town of Bensenville is backing the lawsuit.
"We absolutely think this is a bad idea," said Jim Johnson, Bensenville's village manager, who argues that Daley intends to violate consecrated ground and the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act. "The RFRA says they can relocate graves only if they have exhausted every other alternative, and they haven't by any means done that."
-- Peter Slevin
When in Las Vegas, Smile:
You're on Candid Cab Ride
Two years ago, when the burghers of Las Vegas decided to shed their short-lived kids-and-families marketing push and embrace the old Sin City reputation, they picked an appropriate slogan to help sell it: "What happens here, stays here."
But was that a promise . . . or a threat? Some fear it could start to sound like the latter, now that the region's taxi companies have agreed to install video cameras positioned to capture whatever goes on inside their cabs.
The intent is to heighten security after a wave of crimes against cab drivers. Last year, a cabbie was found strangled in his car parked on the Las Vegas Strip; another was burned to death in August, allegedly by a thief who doused him with gasoline.
Although drivers supported the idea, it found resistance from the owners, who are now grudgingly installing the cameras -- and worrying they will be bad for business.
"We're a tourist town," said Milton Schwartz, an owner of Yellow-Checker-Star Transportation, southern Nevada's largest cab fleet. "Men come to conventions sometimes with women other than their wives. They're going to see this big sign on the window saying they're going to be photographed, and instead they'll take a limo."
So, what exactly goes on in the backs of these cabs, anyway?
"Use your imagination," he said.
-- Amy Argetsinger
Little Red Wagon Nets Success
For a Fundraiser in Georgia
Philanthropy has gone high-tech, what with all the sophisticated methods being employed by big national charities to meet their donation goals.
But maybe what all the big-time charity players really need is a little red wagon.
That's what Marisa Schaefer, a 9-year-old go-getter from suburban Atlanta, used to amass what Salvation Army officials in Georgia say is the largest food donation from an individual that anyone can remember. Schaefer turned into a philanthropic superstar after watching television reports about the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Ivan. She started dragging her little wagon around her neighborhood, but it was no easy job. Every five houses or so, the wagon would fill up with cans and boxes, and she would have to go back home to offload.
"The hardest part was having to lift all the bags and putting them into cars, and counting them took a lot on my brain," she said.
Marisa had to ask her brain to do a lot of counting. After three weeks of wagon-tugging and setting up donation boxes at her school, she had collected more than 1,000 donations.
The only bad news is that any charity hoping to groom Marisa as the next queen of philanthropy is going to have a tough time. When she grows up, she would rather be a kindergarten teacher.
-- Manuel Roig-Franzia
Halloween a Trick, Then Treat, for
Girl Whose Wheelchair Is Stolen
Hannah Carter of Lakeville, Mass., had hobbled up a long driveway in her clown costume to make the traditional Halloween plea of trick-or-treat, when a van pulled up and someone made off with her wheelchair.
Hannah, who has Down syndrome, needs the chair for long walks. Her mother was stunned. "She's 8 years old, and having special needs, there's rules you live by," Felicia Carter said. "You're not supposed to take things without asking."
Replacing the chair would not be a hardship for family, but Felicia Carter said, "all I could think of was people being mean to people."
The theft hit the news, and last week Angela Canto of Hudson, N.H., whose husband had died on Halloween, called the family and offered them her late husband's wheelchair. Hannah's mother said they know little about Edward Canto, except that he liked children.
-- Michelle Garcia