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Portfolio of my edits as Copy Chief of the Columbia Chronicle

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  • Cook County officials will not pursue a tax on bullets, as Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle suggested in her Oct. 18 budget proposal. Instead, the county will allocate $2 million to health care and nonprofits with experience in violence prevention and community outreach.

    The updated proposal, presented Oct. 31, still contains the $25 firearm tax that was in the original proposal, but the 5-cent bullet tax that caused a stir among gun rights advocates was eliminated.

    [The original tax] would reduce income in Cook County and [be] ineffective, said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. The Second Amendment is still a right.

    According to Owen Kilmer, a spokesman for Preckwinkles office, Preckwinkle heeded the advocates concerns when she updated her proposal.

    The plan before was to impose a tax on guns and ammunition without a fund, Kilmer said. We have worked with [12th District] Commissioner [John] Fritchey and [8th District] Commissioner [Edwin] Reyes to come up with a more aggressive proposal, and this is the result of that.

    The $25 firearm tax is expected to raise an estimated $600,000, which will be allocated toward health care costs for gunshot victims.

    It costs Cook County $50,000 each time a county hospital treats a victim of gun violence, according to Fritchey.

    However, Pearson remains unconvinced.

    Its just the same thing except they took the bullet tax off, he said. A lawsuit should be filed against the county because youre still taxing a right.

    The revised proposal takes a more direct approach in preventing violence, Fritchey said.

    Through the creation of this fund, we will be able to put money right at ground zero through organizations with proven track records [when it comes to] reducing gun violence, he said. [Those organizations] could be anything from violence prevention programs to after-school programs to keep kids off the street, or something as simple as [funding additional] crossing guards.

    The projected $2 million in funding will come from savings identified in the county budget, Fritchey said. According to an Oct. 31 press release from Preckwinkles office, the funding will be overseen by an advisory committee consisting of Preckwinkle, three members of the Board of Commissioners, a member of law enforcement and two representatives from community organizations who have yet to be determined.

  • Were going to be dedicating roughly $100,000 of the $2 million to combat straw purchasers, or folks who purchase guns legally and then [sell] them to those who seek [them] for criminal activity, Kilmer said.

    Some funding will also go toward enhancing enforcement efforts, such as the establishment of a gun court that would provide a streamlined approach to handling gun cases, according to Kilmer.

    Fritchey said the court will provide a means of dealing with gun crimes more efficiently than existing courts.

    [A gun court] will uniform the manner of handling these offenses and not have them tied up with some of the other calls in the court system, Fritchey said.

    He said one of his goals for the proposal is to lessen the cost of gun crimes on taxpayers by formulating an effective violence prevention plan that would eliminate excess spending on unnecessary procedures.

    There are a number of groups out there that have done good things and can do even more good things with these resources, Fritchey said. My initiative will provide them with those resources without increasing taxes for Cook County residents.

    He stressed that the updated ordinance is Cook Countys attempt to curb violence by reducing crime at its source.

    At the end of the day, this sends a message to Cook County residents that we are taking steps to deal with gun violence, Fritchey said. I am confident that programs targeted at reducing gun violence and providing kids with alternatives will have a demonstrative effect on reducing gun crimes.

  • From a story about the life of a mortician to one about an obsessive-compulsive young man, the 23rd semiannual Take 1 Student Film Festival had it all.

    The festival celebrates the work of students in Moving Image Production I and II courses, according to Jill Sultz, an adjunct faculty member in the Film & Video Department and coordinator of the festival. Of the 40 films submitted last semester, 11 were selected to be shown on the big screen Nov. 7 at Film Row Cinema in the Conaway Center.

    We wanted to have an opportunity for students to bring their families in and show them their work, Sultz said.

    A panel of faculty from the Film & Video Department chose which student films were to be screened at the festival, she said. Each member had a background in a different aspect of film to ensure the diversity of the panels selections.

    [Picking the films] is tricky because when you are judging art, it is always difficult to do that because art is so subjective, Sultz said.

    The films screened at the festival were grouped into three classifications: Moving Image Production I, MIP II: Homage and MIP II: Documentary. Audience members were asked to vote for their favorite film in each category, and films were given awards based on votes and the jurys selection.

    MIP I films screened at the festival were Pandorium, Vice Grip and Scraps. MIP II: Documentary films were Magical Thinking, The Morticians Mission and Gone. MIP II: Homage films included White Walls, House on the Hill, Shadow in the Wall, Put Down and Alamar Mora.

    Audience favorites were Gone, White Wallsboth of which also won the jury voteand Pandorium.

    Pandorium tells the story of a man held captive inside a strange box who plays music to lure in those who come across it. Once the box is opened, that person is trapped inside.

    Gone documents the life of a young man in Chicago who chooses to be homeless to teach people how to adapt to a post-apocalyptic life.

    House on the Hill paid homage to Tim Burton through animation reminiscent of Burtons classic, The Nightmare Before Christmas.

    Dylan Sherman, a junior Film & Video major, directed the film Put Down, which he said was inspired by a real life experience he had as a child when his dog was put down.

    I was sad as hell obviously, but I just thought, I cant imagine doing that, and I thought of the idea [and] put it in a film, Sherman said.

    When the festival began in 2000, students use Bolex film cameras because the college had yet to incorporate digital technology into its curriculum. Most students did not own a

  • projector, so the film festival was the only way they could see their work, Sultz said.

    Shooting on film is something students still learn in the first-semester classes. Sultz said she thinks shooting on film teaches discipline and prepares students for their second semester.

    When [first-semester students] come to the second semester, they are much more able to do pre-production and plan for their video shoot, she said.

    Even though using film has benefits, it will most likely not be part of the foundation classes for much longer because of the growth of digital technology and lack of resources, Sultz said.

    Three projects shown at the festival were shot on film, which Sultz said is difficult because Bolex cameras have to be constantly wound while filming and films are shot without recording sound.

    The second-semester student films were shot digitally, allowing the students to use more advanced filmmaking techniques.

    When it comes to being creative, Sultz said she encouraged students to put themselves into their films.

    We try to get them to look at their own experiences and use that in their filmmaking, Sultz said. We look for students to find their own voice.

    Tyler Atchison, a sophomore film & video major, was encouraged by the films he saw at the festival.

    [The festival] makes me want to take the film that Im about to shoot as a homage [to director Quentin Tarantino] more seriously, Atchison said. I feel that I could definitely be sitting in those chairs [next semester].

  • Fashion may be fleeting, but timelessness is the theme of Fashion and The Field Museum Collection: Maria Pinto, in which pieces by Chicago-based designer Maria Pinto are juxtaposed with unusual artifacts, such as a crocodile-skin vest, a raincoat made of seal intestines and a monkey fur necklace.

    The exhibit opened to the public Sept. 14 and was curated by Pinto, a favorite designer of Michelle Obamas, and Alaka Wali, the museums curator of North American Anthropology. Pinto used pieces from her past collections and created one ensemble exclusively for the exhibit.

    The project has been a year in the making, which is a fairly short time frame for creating an exhibit, according to Janet Hong, project manager for Exhibitions at The Field Museum.

    We spent days, weeks really, going through the vast underground city of stored artifacts at the museum, Hong said.

    Pinto and Wali started their working relationship during a 2010 womens luncheon program at the museum.

    Pinto had never curated a historical exhibit, and Wali said the museum had never done a fashion exhibit of this sort. Hong said some of the objects on display havent been showcased since the Worlds Fair of 1893, which persuaded the museum to invite Pinto to offer a fresh perspective on the artifacts.

    I think people will walk through the rest of the museum and see objects with a different eye, Wali said. Theyre not going to look at it as some old thing.

    Though Pinto said that she wasnt inspired by any particular period or pattern, armor was one theme that did emerge, as illustrated by a crocodile-skin armor vest from the Republic of C