Reactionary math and School Shootings.

A significant portion of the Right is so beholden and controlled by the National Rifle Association and the gun pornographers in the media that they dare not even utter the words gun control. Instead they are promoting the fiction of arming the schools. MORE GUNS! But the numbers reveal the actual folly of the  no-big government Right’s assertion of having armed guards in every school in America. And their target is your wallet.

138,000. That is the number of schools in America.

3 and 10. that would be the minimum range to place guards in most schools, owing for sick days, vacation days etc., a supervisor would be necessary. Open and large campuses would require still more; costs, incidentally, borne by already over burdened school districts and municipalities.

828,000. That would be the average number of guards needed to be hired at the expense of programs, teachers, unless higher taxes are mandated. School Security Tax?

$45,000. The average wage for an armed security guard.

$37.3 billion. The total cost for placing and staffing guards in all of America’s schools.

$270,000. The average cost to every school in America.

16,470. Towns of 10,000 or less represent the highest number of municipalities in America, compared to 15,555 10k-24.9k, 726 25-49.9k, 452 50k-99.9k, 220 100-249.9k, and 82 at 250k and up to big cities.

5. The number of schools in towns of 10,000 across the nation.

$675-900,000. The cost to each of those small towns simply for security.

3703. The average number of households in a community of 10,000

$182-243. The additional taxes for every household in a town of 10,000 residents.

One Half. Half of America’s 325 million live in towns of fewer than 25,000 people, or roughly 162 million.

$0 Dollars. Instead of addressing reasonable gun legislation, which would cost nothing, and restoring minor investments to help the mentally ill, those suffering depression, bi-polar disorders and more, let’s raise taxes on already under-compensated and over-taxed citizens. Great idea.


Breaking the Cycle through Art

Let me ask you this; if you were guaranteed to double your money on an investment, would you take the risk? What if you could triple or quadruple that initial investment? Tenfold? Hold onto that for a moment.

Three weeks ago Kerri and I had a conversation with Illinois Attorney General candidate Aaron Goldstein on our Sunday Radio Program on AM1590 WCGO in Chicago. While the program deals with the Arts, we strive to be a vehicle for social change through the Art’s prism. On the program, Kerri and I discussed with Aaron the idea of Art Therapy in breaking cycles of violence in distressed communities and in helping to interrupt the revolving door to prison from distressed communities. Since often politics is all about the money, well, at least in this case, all about the cost to taxpayers, we decided to run a few number to see what the cost benefit or liability might be…

A few numbers first. Both and give the average salary for an Art Therapist at between $44-46,000 annually. As of 2014, there were $2,4 million Americans facing incarceration, at a conservative cost of $80 billion annually.  The cost of incarcerating an individual in the state of Illinois, according to InsideGov. is $38,268. Illinois averages 45,500 prisoners daily, at a cost of $1.74 billion annually to Illinois taxpayers.  Cook County, in Illinois, which covers Chicago runs an average shortfall of about $150 million annually. Illinois has a slippery pig deficit varying from between $1.5 billion and $5 billion depending on who one believes and who is manipulating those numbers and for what reason. More taxes only burden the individual taxpayer in a state that annually gives away several Billion Dollars to big corporations for little or no return on “investment.”.

There are alternatives that could dramatically affect those numbers in favor of the taxpayer. For example, a study by Fiscal Policy Center at Voices for Illinois Children., in an article by Ellyn Fortino in Progress Illinois, found that “Youth incarceration costs Illinois 29 times more than the community-based alternative…it cost the state an average of $172,000 to incarcerate one youth, compared to an average of $6,000 for one youth in the Redeploy Illinois program…” But incarceration has become a revolving door, an assault on the symptom without ever addressing the disease. That’s where Art Therapy can make a difference.

For slightly more than the cost of incarcerating  4 adult prisoners, or just one youth offender four therapists couple be employed to begin addressing the disease that’s besieged distressed and marginalized communities where the symptoms of crime and incarceration have taken hold. What’s the old adage about if your only tool is a hammer every problem becomes a nail. The cost of running a program such as this would be less than $300k annually. If that one team were able to turn 8 individuals away from the prison system, the cost savings from their incarceration tab would more than pay for the program. Recall our budget was $300k. The cost savings for those 8 people would be $306k to taxpayers, not to mention a ripple effect of lower policing, costs to the community and the opportunity to resurrect the positive potential to each of the 8 in their respective communities.

At 3 sessions daily, each with 10-15 students, working over a 6 week period would reach 360 people in a single year. In prison that 360 would represent a cost to the state of nearly $14 million. If Art Therapy managed to turn just 18, or 5%, far below the actual success rates of Art Therapy, the taxpayers of Illinois would more than double the return on their initial investment. Moreover, such programs could incorporate marketable skills, such as computer skills, graphic Arts, textiles, and printing that might well be translated into jobs.

Given that the old standbys or prison, prison and more prison only feeds the fires of hopelessness in distressed communities, as well as the conflagration of budget deficits and spiraling taxation, it is time that Illinois took the lead in looking at proven alternatives. The reality is a concerted Art Therapy program investment across the state, could save Illinois taxpayers millions of Dollars, at a time when it is needed most, regardless of who you vote for.


  1. Art Therapy’s Power to Prevent Youth Violence, Improve Communities by Lariza Fenner
  2. Art Therapy Wikipedia.
  3. 5 Quick Facts about Art Therapy:
  4. Adler School’s IPSSJ: Working with CeaseFire, Cook County and detained youth to educate and prevent future violence: Elena Quintana, Ph.D., Executive Director, the Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice at the Adler School

Hinter extended through March 17

Hinter extended through March 17

(Chicago, February 13, 2018) With its original run almost sold out, Steep Theatre has added eight more performances of Calamity West’s Hinter. Called “taut, complex and a bloody good time” by Alex Huntsberger of TimeOut Chicago, this thrilling new play has enthralled audiences and critics alike. Hinter will run through Saturday, March 17.

By Calamity West
Directed by Brad DeFabo Akin
January 25 – March 17, 2018

Whispers and rumors had been swirling around the Gruber family farm long before the bodies were discovered on that cold April day. It’s 1922, and a remote community in Bavaria is reeling in the aftermath of World War I: gender roles are shifting, a generation gap is emerging, and farmers are battling poverty in the shadow of a growing urban Intelligentsia. Inspired by a chilling and true unsolved crime, Hinter is a darkly comic thriller by one of Chicago’s most exciting new playwrights.

Company Member Brad DeFabo Akin returns to Steep to direct the world premiere of Calamity West’s Hinter, which was commissioned by Steep Theatre. West has quickly emerged as an important Chicago playwright, with recent acclaimed productions of her works Rolling (Jackalope Theatre) and Give It All Back (Sideshow Theatre). Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune dubbed West “the real deal“ and “one of this city‘s most exciting new voices.“ DeFabo Akin has delivered notable Steep productions including strangers, babies, Book of Days, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, and 2016’s The Few.

Hinter features Aurora Adachi-Winter, Lauren Sivak, Sasha Smith, Sigrid Sutter, Nate Whelden, Eunice Woods, and Steep Company Members Alex Gillmor, Peter Moore, Jim Poole, and Melissa Riemer. 

“With her singular inventiveness and imagination, Calamity has breathed life into this obscure, terrifying incident from long ago and created a story that resonates deeply with much of what we’re wrestling with today,” said Steep Artistic Director Peter Moore. “It’s a fascinating story from a truly unique voice.”

About the Playwright
Calamity West is a Chicago-based, Kilroys-cited, award-winning playwright. Her play Hinter, is scheduled for its world premiere at Steep Theatre Company in the winter of 2018. Her newest play In the Canyon is currently in development at Jackalope Theater Company, and she recently joined TimeLine Theatre Company’s Playwrights Collective where she will be in residency for the next two years. Other full-length plays by Ms. West include: Tony Kushner Considers Writing A Gay Fantasia Based On National Themes (2017), Rolling (2016); Give It All Back (Kilroy-cited 2015); Ibsen is Dead (2014); The Peacock (2013, Kilroys honorable mention); The Gacy Play (2012); and Common Hatred (2012). Calamity is a company member of Jackalope Theatre Company and an artistic associate of Sideshow Theatre Company. She teaches playwriting at the University of Chicago and is represented by The Gersh Agency.

About the Director
Hinter marks the eighth show Brad DeFabo Akin has directed at Steep, where he’s been an ensemble member since 2005. Past Steep directing credits: Book of DaysThe Last Days of Judas IscariotInsignificanceGreensboro: A RequiemUnder the Blue Sky, strangers, babies, and The Few. Outside of Steep, his Chicago directing credits include: The Orchestra (Akvavit Theatre), Crimes of the Heart (Step Up Productions), Edgar & Annabel (Poor Theatre), The Revenants (WildClaw Theatre), OOHRAH! (LiveWire Theatre), and Where We’re Born (Steppenwolf Garage). Brad served as Steep’s Literary Manager for 11 years, helping to cultivate the company’s relationship with new playwrights, developing relationships with MFA playwriting programs, and supporting the development of three world premieres at Steep – including Calamity West’s Hinter. He currently serves as the Executive Director of Step Up Chicago Playwrights, where he supports the work of local playwrights in telling the story of our city. Brad also has the honor of teaching North Carolina’s best and brightest young minds every summer, as part of their Governor’s School program.

About Steep Theatre
Housed in what was once a small grocery store steps from the Berwyn Red Line stop, and lead by an ensemble of 34 actors, directors, designers, writers, and other theatre artists, Steep is the quintessential storefront theatre. Described by Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune as “a storefront theater known for the power of its acting,” Steep creates powerful productions of plays by today’s most exciting writers and features the work of Chicago’s hottest theatre artists in an intimate, accessible space. Currently in its 17th season, Steep is known as a home for hard-hitting, finely tuned ensemble work. With each production, the company has shepherded a growing community of audiences and artists into bold new territories of story and performance.

Steep Theatre is conveniently located by the Berwyn Red Line stop and is within blocks of the #92, #36, #146, #147, and #151 buses.

Steep Theatre
1115 West Berwyn, Chicago, IL 60640

January 25 – March 17, 2018
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8pm
Sunday matinees at 3pm 

General Admission Tickets: $27
Reserved Seat Tickets: $38
Access Tickets: $10 (Steeps universal discount for students, artists, whomever)
(773) 649-3186

Twitter: @SteepTheatre
Facebook: SteepTheatre

Kate Piatt-Eckert
Cast photos and bios are available at

Production photos are available at

Aurora Adachi-Winter
Alex Gillmor*
Peter Moore*
Jim Poole*
Melissa Riemer*
Lauren Sivak
Sasha Smith
Sigrid Sutter
Nate Whelden
Eunice Woods

Director – Brad DeFabo Akin*
Stage Manager – Lauren Lassus**
Set Designer – Lauren Nigri
Lighting Designer – Pete Dully*
Sound Designer  – Thomas Dixon**
Costume Designer  – Mieka van der Ploeg
Props Designer – Kathryn Johnson
Violence & Intimacy Choreographer – Sasha Smith
Dramaturg – Neena Arndt
Assistant Director – Almanya Narula
Production Manager – Catherine Allen

*Denotes Steep Company Member
**Denotes Steep Artistic Associate

Slow Erosion of the American Dream

More than once I have openly challenged a local radio host, Dan Proft, to debate me openly on my Radio program. Proft is merely a propagandist preying upon the ignorance of an audience he relies will not fact check or think critically. As part of an attack on Teachers and teachers unions he points to declining home values (Then later trumpets the magical Trump economic Shangri La) while blaming it on rising costs faced in a real economy by school districts. He purposely fails to identify, despite his boastful faux-analytical exuberance, the true culprit of the problem.

It is a brilliant slight of mathematical hand, and the so-called liberal media fairs even worse, whether out of complicity for their corporate bosses or out of complete ignorance and lack of perspective from their 1% lofts. Take for example CNBC who this week cheered a Bureau of Labor Statistics report that annualized average wages for US workers had risen in 2017 by 2.9%. That number of course is aggregated between all US workers, from minimum wage to the top 1%. Considering that between 1979 and 2013 the top 1% of earners grew by 138%, while the bottom 90% grew by just 15%, or less than a HALF percent (.441%) annually, far below the average annual rate of inflation, that leaves a great deal of room for disparity and misinformation.


Incidentally, or not so incidentally, the average annual rate of inflation just since 2000 was at 2.18%, though the things consumers purchase to live, like meat, fish, Chicken and eggs actually saw a 7.6% rise in inflation. During that same period, the highest rate of inflation came in the final year of the Bush administration at a crippling 3.85%, while the lowest all took place in the last 5 years of the Obama Administration. The numbers, so far, looking at prices on eggs, gasoline and other “luxuries” is that inflation is on a fast and perhaps cataclysmic rise.

We do live in two Americas; one is a media bubble in which rich people pander to rich people while under the pretense of populism. Within that is a not terribly small subset of a cancerous greed driven individuals who are not American, but economic traitors. The other is the reality of working people, like a woman who worked her whole life. Now at 70, after paying into a system for decades that was robbed and nickel and dimed below the rate of inflation, she lives under blankets in her bedroom because she can no longer afford to heat her entire apartment..


The greed and corruption merchants, like Dan Proft, Rush Limbaugh and others seek to cajole you into surrendering your money by building straw men whom they call liberals and socialists. They will proclaim liberals, democrats and socialists are there to steal your freedom. Their arguments, on the surface are compelling. They will point to your declining or stagnant wages to decry the costs of  schools and property taxes, blaming them on teachers and unions. They will point to property values or property taxes as proof, but is that really true? Unions have long existed, and at much higher numbers. Unions blossomed  in the early 20th century and remained strong after the Second World War, as the nation grew and prospered. So, why are unions to blame now?

As for property taxes and school spending, that is an easy fiction to dispel.  Schools, like your declining wages (relative to annual year over year inflation) are also subject to rising costs. That municipalities and communities struggle to keep pace with inflation, averaging 2.5-3% annually, is critically to maintaining solvency. The real threat to solvency is not the rate of taxation, but the inability of the American worker’s salary to keep nominal pace with annual inflation. Piling up year over year for decades is that deficit in pay, but only for the bottom 90% of wage earners, the actual taxpayers who can’t dodge and offset and hide income like the top 10%, but then the top 10% run the medi, while the top 1% owns it.  Bottom line, if you had been paid, commensurate with ever spiraling corporate profits and exploding CEO and executive compensation taxes and school spending would be exactly where they should be.

Terraforming America…

If you thought this was something on the environment, well, sorry to disappoint. this is about a different sort of Terraforming. The word comes from the idea of one day transforming a marginally habitable planet into something akin to planet Earth. Instead, in this case I am talking about a covert Russian effort to transform the United States of America into something more resembling Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

This isn’t some conspiracy theory. It is back up by real news. I am simply following the Russian bread crumbs and some other crumbs to the obvious conclusion. It all hinges upon former Trump campaign advisor Paul Manafort, now under indictment by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. And always bear in mind that for white collar and political criminals, the covert up is usually where their schemes reveal themselves. Manafort, it should be common knowledge by now, is very close to the Putin regime, having worked directly for their interests and against American policy and interests in Ukraine. Manafort is the lynch pin, he is the Putin surrogate undertaking an effort to align Russian interests with the US. How you ask? The answer is hardly far-fetched.

Russia is led by a strongman who wields tight control over the media. A number of Putin-critical dissenters and critics have been murdered. Trump has an army of media apologists and explainers, while actively attacking anyone who disagrees or dissents. In the streets of Russia, Putin paid thugs and hooligans assail protesters. The white supremacist, promise keepers, biker gangs and neo-Nazi have provided open support for Trump and have even committed murder, such as in Charlottesville. In Russia Trump uses the Orthodox Church for control of the population. Mike Pence is quoted as saying he is a Christian first before an American. He is part of an extremist minority hijacking Christianity to drive social policy inconsistent with the constitution and secular law but on a narrow interpretation of the Bible.  Finally, the economy and virtually all of the nation’s wealth is controlled by a minority of Oligarchs.  In the united States currently, 10% of the nation’s households control 75% of the wealth, and 1% controls 40%, as well as the political system-the very definition Oligarchy.

So you see, it isn’t a great leap to understand that the Russians intend to terraform the US to look more like Russia. Why? for one, because that immediately undermines us around the world as hypocrites to our own founding and ideals. No one has any humanitarian expectation of Russia. second, it moves the wealth and power in the US economy and in the government away from America as that gleaming city on a hill and makes it a nation for sale.

Attention Writers

Last September we began a project to bring the Arts and Art’s issues to the air. Now in our 5th month, Playtime with Sid and Bill Featuring Kerri Kendall, is the best and most comprehensive Arts program on Commercial Radio in the United States. 2018 is the year of the writer on our program. If you missed last week’s show, check out the Facebook Live rebroadcast as we talk with Author and Loyola University educator Nadine Kenney Johnston about the art of writing memoirs. this week we are back like speaking with Jill Pollack from Story Studio Chicago, a local and online resource and workshop for writers. The show airs every Sunday at 1pm on 1590WCGO in Chicago, but streams world wide at Help us to strengthen the writing community across America, and shine a long missed light on the great Authors and writers…and bloggers…across the nation.

Also joining us on today’s program is the Artistic Director of Chicago’s Prop Theatre to talk about Rhinoceros fest, a juried show to highlight the best in up and coming and innovative playwrights and Theatre companies.

A beautiful comment.

On the radio program Kerri, Sid and I work very hard for every guest to leave feeling uplifted and empowered. On of those guests, Randy Richardson, President of the Chicago Writer’s, left us a particularly nice note:

On Sunday afternoon, I made my second appearance on Playtime with Sid and Bill featuring Kerri Kendall, a weekly 2-hour radio show on WCGO 1590-AM. What I love about the program is that it has the feel of being on a carnival midway. There’s a nostalgic vibe that hits you the moment you walk into the studio and see the vintage console radio under the bright colors of the “1590 WCGO is Chicago”logo that adorns the wall. The host of the program, William C. Turck sets the tone, passing out juice boxes and tossing aside pages of his script as soon as he’s done with them. Meanwhile, his sidekick Kerri ChakraZulu snaps selfies with guests without ever missing a beat. Across from me is the second hour’s guest, Charles D. Moisant, a comics artist, who, because he doesn’t have a mic, talks with handwritten note cards. Adding to the carnival-like vibe, Charles passes out beef jerky and draws caricatures of the guests. And, yes, the drawing that accompanies this post is the caricature he drew of me in just a matter of minutes while we were live on the air.

When the guest that I had invited to join me on the program, author Nadine Kenney Johnstone, and I exited the studio an hour later, we both had big smiles on our faces. It was that feeling you have when you unbuckle after riding a roller-coaster. That’s a pretty special feeling that they’re creating on
Playtime with Sid and Bill featuring Kerri Kendall. They broadcast every Sunday from 1 to 3 pm. I highly recommend that you jump on and tune in before the line gets too long.