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Rally for low wage workers takes place at Neil and Kirby

This afternoon SEIU Local 73 helped organize a rally for low wage workers in Illinois. The rally took place outside of the McDonald's at the corner of Neil St. and Kirby Ave. 

Ricky Baldwin of SEIU Local 73 mentioned that today was a "national day of action." The initiative included fast food workers but has gone further to other low wage employees.

"15 dollars an hour and a union, some safety stuff along the way as well is what we're raising awareness for," he said. "We're not really looking for legislation with this type of rally, of course legislation for 15 dollars an hour would be great. But we're just looking to raise awareness to local businesses. We're even looking for higher wages for adjunct professors."

There was about 30 people there when we covered the event and you can take a look at some of the signs and faces fighting for a noble cause below:

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Check out the real American Football house in C-U

So if you were unaware, the house that graces the front of American Football's debut self-titled record is not the house they lived in. This house, shown above, was where members of the band lived while they were putting together some of their early material. 

This is a photo of the REAL American Football house in Champaign-Urbana, IL where Steve and Mike lived / wrote parts of the EP and full length. #tbt

Posted by American Football on Thursday, April 9, 2015

Check out Isaac Arms' interview and retrospective with Steve Lamos published prior to their performance at Pygmalion Festival 2014.

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Dog art at Cafe Kopi

Next time you are at Cafe Kopi take a look at the hilarious images created by Kirby and Cindy Pringle of www.dogtownartworks.com. The images are not only funny but some of them show a great deal of hard work and talent in graphic design. They are on the walls nearest the register and of course are for sale. 

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Yik Yak reps at Red Lion tonight

My girlfriend and I were driving home from Urbana when we saw this truck (above) that said Yik Yak on the side of it. For those of you unfamiliar, Yik Yak is an application in which users can send annonymous, location based, tweet-like messages into a forum. In addition, there's a up-vote/down-vote component. It's pretty fun.

Anyways, naturally, we followed the bus — which stopped at Red Lion on campus. I got out, went to the door and knocked on it. Out popped a young man, with long flippy hair, and a Yik Yak trucker-style hat on. He said that Yik Yak is touring around and that tonight they'll be at Red Lion giving away free swag and letting people ride the "Mechanical Yak."

If I didn't a sore throat and a clinical test out tomorrow, I'd definitly be on the bull, with my camera, taking photos for you to enjoy. But, since I can't go, I've asked Alisa Greene, one of our talented photographers to go document the epic-ness of the event. I imagine most of our readership spends their Monday nights downtown Champaign sipping whiskey, browsing Kickstarter (or something), or watching the latest hip television show, but if not, head down to Red Lion and let Alisa photograph you on DA YAK!

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bacaro’s Thad Morrow is cooking dinner with Emeril Lagasse and Mario Batali… in Florida

You might know that owner / executive chef of bacaro Thad Morrow once interned under Mario Batali at Poe, the celebrity chef's first NYC restaurant. Evidently, they are still really tight. And now, he's in Florida cooking stone crab claws with Emeril Lagasse, too. 

Just a fun set of pics to look at. Pretty awesome. 

Stone crabs. The most sustainable and delicious food that I can't ever afford except like, once in a blue moon: 

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Keep Central Central signs missing “by the dozen”

When something is a terrible idea, and a community organizes to fight back against it, there's generally a moment of desperation for those who proposed it and support it to begin with. 

In recent weeks, thousands of Keep Central Central signs have been going out to engaged residents and evidently, they've started disappearing by the dozen in certain neighborhoods around town. 

Kelly Hearne, a resident of Champaign close to Eisner Park near Church and Mattis, reported her sign missing last week, and now almost a dozen others in her neighborhood have done the same. 

"Our next door neighbors told me this morning that 'lots of people' in our area had signs stolen, mentioned there was a story on the news. I searched but couldn't find anyone reporting it. Their sign was stolen, so they put up a new one tied to a tree well out of arm's reach."

As a reminder about the legalities of stealing political campaign signs in any way, I asked Prue Runkle about it, who manages volunteering at Keep Central Central. 

"The theft of yard signs is a Class A Misdemeanor  — 720 ILCS 5/16-1(b)(1) covers “t]heft of property not from the person and not exceeding $500 in value.

"Whether it’s a small yard sign or a big one, if its value is below $500, the same statute applies. Under state law, you cannot touch another candidate’s signs for any reason. Even if they are illegally placed, you must call that campaign and have them come out and remove it.

"Feel free to disagree with your neighbors politically," she continued, "but leave the signs in their yards alone. It’s an un-neighborly gesture to silence people politically by stealing their signs."

I am a little less "neutral" about the referendum.

Leading up to the April 7th elections, the communities of Champaign and Savoy are essentially being asked if they want to bond $144 million to create more urban sprawl by building a high school on farm land in the far most northern part of the city, an area of town that is decidely not growing in the way that the Board proclaims that it is; being asked if they want to create a massive disparity between the two high schools by under-funding a much needed addition and upgrade to Centennial High School; being asked if they want to under-fund a much needed new Dr. Howard Elementary School; being asked if they want to ignore myriad other issues facing the district at the same time; being asked to stand behind a district that literally brags and boasts about how little they ask the community to spend per household on education. 

You can't make this type of stuff up. The current school board has about as much insight into the needs of this community and its schools as a salamander that has been drinking Jack Daniels and smoking crack rocks all morning.

The proposal, which has liberals and conservatives holding hands and working together to see it defeated, is even worse than the one that got shot down last November.   

(Full disclosure: I am an active member of Keep Central Central, but I speak for myself and not the group)

Picture provided by Kelly Hearne

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Is this squirrel a new Illinois mascot?

OK — so, our stance about the Illini mascot saga is well known, so there's no need to discuss it here.

I also realize that there are a TON of squirrels throughout the U of I campus, we've all seen them, running around and whatnot. Good, great, whatever. Everyone has them.

However, I stumbled upon this "mascot" here, and I'm just asking myself: Is this what they're using to appeal to new students? 

For real. I'm personally not too crazy about mascots from which to begin — I mean, they're fine and all, but have nothing to do with getting amped up for a game or something — but this seems like a stretch. Perhaps I'm not alone in that perspective?

UPDATE (10:15 p.m.): So, it's come to my attention that there IS a thing called Oskee the Squirrel. Suppose I've been uninformed, but even so — why are they asking for a name if it already exists?

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Reuben sandwiches all March long at Aroma Cafe

Stop by Aroma Cafe in Downtown Champaign each week throughout March to try a different reuben sandwich.

Week One: 3/8-3/14

Classic Reuben - Corned beef, melted Swiss cheese, marble rye bread, dijon mustard, thousand island dressing, sauerkraut

Week Two: 3/15-3/21

Turkey Reuben - Turkey, melted Swiss cheese, marble rye bread, dijon mustard, thousand island dressing, sauerkraut

Week Three: 3/22-3/28

Veggie Reuben- Avocado, tomato, melted Swiss cheese, marble rye bread, dijon mustard, thousand island dressing, sauerkraut

All reubens are toasted to perfection and served with a bag of chips and pickle spear. $8.95.

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Smile Politely and Chambanamoms to host Mayoral Debate March 29

In just under a month, the people of the city of Champaign will go to the polls to select, amongst a few things, another four year term for their Mayor. 

In case you've been living under a rock over the past few years, Don Gerard currently holds the position, and won by just a few hundred votes last time out, narrowly defeating three-term incumbent Gerald Schweighart, a radical tea party conservative who, on record, claimed to believe that President Barack Obama wasn't, in fact, an American

So, now four years later, Mayor Gerard has three challengers: two women who sit on City Council in Deb Feinen and Karen Foster, as well as Joe Petry, who currently serves as Champaign Park District Board President. 

Last summer, we hosted a Q & A at Mike N Molly's with the three challengers

We are honored and excited to invite you all to join us at Jupiter's at the Crossing on Sunday March 29, 2015 at 4 p.m. to watch us mediate what will hopefully be a lively and spirited debate between all four candidates. 

Readers may submit questions to both us and to Chamabanamoms by emailing to info@smilepolitely.com or editor@chambanamoms.com

More information about the format and rules will be released closer to the event. 

The debate will be moderated by Publisher of Smile Politely, Seth Fein and Editor-in-Chief of Chambanamoms, Laura Bleill. 

We look forward to seeing you there.