Good Bye Aaron


“Okay Marty, again thanks. I really appreciate it.”—Aaron

That was the last thing I received from Aaron, one of my youth reps, before he was gunned down in the Little Village neighborhood on Chicago’s Near-West side.

Aaron was a smart kid. A funny kid. A generous, kind, loving kid. He was at most 22. He leaves behind a little boy, just over a year old, friends, family, and a hole in the program I run at the Juvenile Court.

I found out about a half hour ago that today—his birthday—he was shot and killed while with another young person. I do not know what happened. I do not know why he was shot, who shot him, who the other young person was, or what happens next. All I know is that the world is a much darker place with-out Aaron.

Aaron would laugh at the dumbest, stupidest jokes. Whenever he walked into a room, he would shake everyone’s hand—everyone, I mean it—and look them in the eye to introduce himself. He was short, about 5’7 or so, but he could fill a room if he wanted to. He would call and say if he was running late, he would call when he would make it home.

He always said please and thank you.

He wanted to go into the FBI to make the world a better place for his son. But college is expensive, and he was not sure it was for him. And yet. And. Yet. He was always looking on how to learn to do more.

Aaron was eager to do more for JAC. When he took a break in June of this year, I knew it was because he was picking more hours at one of his two jobs. When I saw him last, another youth rep and I dropped off his pay check AND he was committing to applying to the court scholarship program. He had made up his mind. College, in fact, was for him.

That was the last I heard from him until August. He sent me a text message and said he missed the program, missed the staff and that he was going to be back once he handled some problems he was going through. I offered to help. That’s when he said thanks, and that he appreciated it. That was the last I heard from him.

I was lucky—or blessed if you prefer—to know Aaron. He was amazing. Proof that young people can change. His loss does not mean that he failed. It means that we failed. The city, the county, the system. We failed him.

My grief is palpable, measurable. I know from experience with grief that there will come a point where I will be able to deal with it. But that is not what I focus on. I am worried for Aaron’s son. I mourn for his parents. I mourn for his neighborhood. I mourn with the young people I work with. I mourn with the community agency that worked with him. My grief is so small by comparison, but it is still there. It connects me to all the people Aaron was connected to. And that is some small degree of comfort.

Good by Aaron. I still miss you.

An Open Letter to John Daley, Part 3

Mr. Daley,

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me to discuss my questions regarding the Cook County Budget, and for the coffee. I am glad to get confirmation that, at this time, layoffs are not on the table for Juvenile Probation Officers. I truly appreciate that you were willing to take time from your schedule to listen to my concerns. It is heartening to learn that there are commissioners who are willing to meet with their constituents to discuss these important issues.

Thank you, again, for all that you do.

Best Regards,

Marty Gleason

I just wish I could take a picture without looking like a smug bastard.

Back Off

For the past two years, I have gone without a contract at work. I, like millions of other American’s, have tightened my belt due to stagnant pay, limited benefits and increased work hours.

This year I take: a pay cut, an increase in health care for less options and another increase in work. It turns out that Cook County, my employer, says that they have a budget gap of 25-35 million dollars. So they’re giving me furlough days.

I’m not complaining about the Furlough days. They are a fact of life given today’s economy and the utter mismanagement done by the County Board. What I am concerned about are my own Collective Bargaining Rights.

See, the County wants to lay off 10% of the work force. This work force provides direct services to community in terms of direct therapeutic contact OR supervision of delinquents in the community. The County could have made ends meet–they can find the money for programs like Cease Fire–but they need to send a message to our Union. That message is pretty clear:

Your Service Doesn’t Matter.

It’s no where near blatant as the attack in Wisconsin, but make no mistake, this is an collective bargaining in Chicago. President Preckwinkle has not attempted to negotiate our contract. All she wants is an overall work force reduction of 10%.

Why Last Night Rocked


The Glowing Figure on the stage is one Ted Leo, with a mohawk, who rocked at Lincoln Hall’s Grand Opening Event.

The best part–other than Shannon’s soldiering through the entire affair–were the five new songs they played. Everything about the night was awesome: The tickets were reasonable, the beer did not have a high North Side Tax and the opening act, the The Jai-Alai Savant rocked.

This blog post marks the end of my fan-boy giggling. I’m going to go pretend to be an adult for eight hours.