Nathan Allen leaves House Theatre of Chicago after nearly 20 years as leader

Nathan Allen, the founding artistic director of the House Theatre of Chicago and its principal public face and creative force for the last almost 20 years, is leaving his post.

“I am not going to stop making art,” Allen said, noting that money factored into his decision. “But I have two school-age kids and my wife is working a lot of overtime.”

As with many other theater companies, the pandemic has had an acute impact on House, a company founded by a group of college friends in 2000 and known for its innovative original theater, its interest in popular culture and its longstanding determination to attract millennials and Gen-Xers who do not typically attend theater. Allen, known for his exuberant curtain speeches (“let’s make some noise”) and his warm-centered personality, was a big part of that appeal, as was his work.

Unlike most non-profit theaters, House made an impressive 70% of its roughly $2.2 million annual budget at its own box office, and that box office has been closed since March.

“Our way has always been to sell a hell of a lot of tickets,” Allen, 42, said. “And our way doesn’t work anymore. We’ve settled into a sustainable position where we can hold on for a whole year. But what the House deserves is someone to really rebuild a company. I know what that is, but it’s not me. That was a commitment I had in my 20s, but I don’t have it now. I feel like I already helped build it, and I honestly would be too angry to have to do it all again.”

House has been forced to furlough or lay off most of its staffers in recent weeks. Its two remaining current employees, Allen and managing director Erik Schroeder, have been reduced to part time.

Allen was responsible for some huge creative and financial successes, including the writing and directing of “Death and Harry Houdini,” which toured nationally; the co-authorship and direction of “The Sparrow,” a wrenching piece about an unusual young girl in a small Illinois town; the direction of “Verboten,” a recent hit musical featuring punk music by Jason Narducy; and, perhaps most notably of all, the direction of “The Terrible Tragedy of Peter Pan,” the dazzlingly creative and emotionally intense piece that first made House a young Chicago theater to watch.

“Nate has built a community of artists,” Schroeder said. “For so many people in Chicago, House was their first theater experience. His focus was always on the audience. He helped bring some super-fun and very unusual stories to the stage. And a large part of the legacy that Nate leaves is an audience of 30- and 40-somethings who now will be theatergoers for rest of their lives.”

Schroeder also said that House intends to carry on into the future and look for a successor. Allen says he is committed to helping the company make that transition. He also said that he had “seen the sea change socially” and concluded

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House Minority Leader Patrick Neville won’t seek re-election for top GOP spot

Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville announced Friday that he won’t seek to retain his House leadership post, months after news reports that he would be challenged for the seat and likely lose it.

“There’s been a lot of folks that have been, quite frankly, spending all their time trying to run against me instead of … helping Republicans win elections,” Neville said.

The Castle Rock Republican said he plans to instead focus on getting reelected to serve his district for the next two years. He also plans to complete the last year of his executive MBA at the University of Denver.

The divide has grown between supporters of Neville, who holds far-right views and associates with groups like the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, and Republicans who say the party needs to make changes to get elected in an increasingly blue state.

Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, had previously announced he would seek the minority leader’s spot, with backing from many in the Republican caucus.

Neville said he came to the decision a week ago and decided to announce it before the election in hopes that it will help Republicans focus on flipping Democratic seats. The House leadership vote takes place after the election.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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WATCH: House Minority Leader McCarthy slams Pelosi on COVID-19 relief

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy harshly criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over her negotiating position on COVID relief, saying the Democrats’ plan “mentions cannabis more than it mentions jobs.”

Watch McCarthy’s remarks in the player above.

“There are so many problems with the Democratic bill, why it’s gone nowhere,” McCarthy said.

“Could she not see past politics for once?” he asked rhetorically.

The White House is backing a $400 per week pandemic jobless benefit and is dangling the possibility of a COVID-19 relief bill of $1.6 trillion as last-ditch, pre-election negotiations hit a critical phase Thursday.

But pessimism is again seeping into the talks and the two sides switched back to attacking each other in public.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Speaker Pelosi were expected to talk by phone early Thursday afternoon, but the speaker was publicly dismissive of the latest White House plan.

Pelosi postponed debate Wednesday on a Democratic alternative measure in hopes of getting an agreement.

A vote is likely on Thursday, spokesman Drew Hammill said, depending on how the Mnuchin-Pelosi exchanges go.

McCarthy also said he thought President Donald Trump won Tuesday night’s presidential debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

The first of three scheduled debates between Trump and Biden deteriorated into bitter taunts and chaos Tuesday night as the Republican president repeatedly interrupted his Democratic rival with angry jabs that overshadowed any substantive discussion of the crises threatening the nation.

McCarthy’s advice to Trump was to let Biden talk more.

“I think the more he talks, the more the American public would decide they don’t want Joe Biden,” he said.

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BLM leader arrested for allegedly spending $200K in donations on tailored suits, a house, and guns

The FBI arrested a Black Lives Matter activist for allegedly using over $200,000 in donations on personal expenses.



Sir Maejor wearing a suit and tie


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“In sum, Page has spent over $200,000 on personal items generated from donations received through BLMGA Facebook page with no identifiable purchase or expenditure for social or racial justice,” FBI agent Matthew Desorbo said.

Sir Maejor Page, 32, was arrested Friday in Toledo, Ohio, and is facing federal wire fraud and money laundering charges for allegedly spending the money on tailored suits, a home in Ohio, and guns.

Page became involved with the Black Lives Matter movement in 2016 when he founded the Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta on Facebook. He used the page to solicit donations through a GoFundMe account, the FBI said.

Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta raised nearly $470,000 between June and August, following the death of George Floyd on Memorial Day.

“Numerous videos and livestream videos were posted to Page’s personal social media pages showing himself in what appeared to be newly purchased clothing, hotel rooms and office space in Atlanta,” the FBI said in its release. “Several audio statements are made by Page in the videos boasting about the money he has, his tailored suits, his nice cufflinks and ‘$150 dollar ties.’”

He was charged with one count of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering. He was released on bond after appearing before a judge via video.

Tags: News, Atlanta, Black Lives Matter, Ohio, Crime

Original Author: Emma Colton

Original Location: BLM leader arrested for allegedly spending $200K in donations on tailored suits, a house, and guns

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SC House leader wants raises and bonuses, but not now

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The chairman of the House committee that writes South Carolina’s budget said he also wants a small raise for teachers and a $1,000 COVID-19 hazard pay bonus for lower-paid state workers, but now isn’t the time to spend that money.

Instead, House Ways and Means Chairman Murrell Smith said Wednesday he wants to wait until January and make sure COVID-19 hasn’t wrecked the economy even more than state economists have predicted.


The Senate approved the raises and the hazard pay, totaling about $70 million in the state’s roughly $9 billion budget, on Tuesday. They then attacked House members a day later for not taking it up.

Those workers and teachers “received as a thank you from the House of Representatives a big fat zero,” said state Sen. Greg Hembree, a Republican from Horry County on Wednesday.



Smith said he is almost certain the House won’t take up the Senate’s proposal during the special session that ends Sept. 24, but the Sumter Republican is willing to talk about it with senators when the next session of the General Assembly starts in January and Smith hopes economists have a better handle on the COVID-19 economy nearly a year after the pandemic started.


“The only disagreement we have is they are rushing head in to a storm and they don’t know whether the storm is going to last for a month or is going to last for years,” Smith said after Wednesday’s House session.

Smith said he would rather be prudent and wait than spend money the state could have saved and later end up furloughing state workers or make deep cuts in budgets. Smith entered the House nearly 20 years ago and remembers what happened in the Great Recession of 2009 when $1 billion of budgeted revenue evaporated and the state agencies had to make huge cuts that caused damage that many said it took a decade to reverse.


“Let’s be careful. Let’s make sure we don’t make

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SC House Leader Wants Raises and Bonuses, but Not Now | South Carolina News

By JEFFREY COLLINS, Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The chairman of the House committee that writes South Carolina’s budget said he also wants a small raise for teachers and a $1,000 COVID-19 hazard pay bonus for lower-paid state workers, but now isn’t the time to spend that money.

Instead, House Ways and Means Chairman Murrell Smith said Wednesday he wants to wait until January and make sure COVID-19 hasn’t wrecked the economy even more than state economists have predicted.

The Senate approved the raises and the hazard pay, totaling about $70 million in the state’s roughly $9 billion budget, on Tuesday. They then attacked House members a day later for not taking it up.

Those workers and teachers “received as a thank you from the House of Representatives a big fat zero,” said state Sen. Greg Hembree, a Republican from Horry County on Wednesday.

Smith said he is almost certain the House won’t take up the Senate’s proposal during the special session that ends Sept. 24, but the Sumter Republican is willing to talk about it with senators when the next session of the General Assembly starts in January and Smith hopes economists have a better handle on the COVID-19 economy nearly a year after the pandemic started.

“The only disagreement we have is they are rushing head in to a storm and they don’t know whether the storm is going to last for a month or is going to last for years,” Smith said after Wednesday’s House session.

Smith said he would rather be prudent and wait than spend money the state could have saved and later end up furloughing state workers or make deep cuts in budgets. Smith entered the House nearly 20 years ago and remembers what happened in the Great Recession of 2009 when $1 billion of budgeted revenue evaporated and the state agencies had to make huge cuts that caused damage that many said it took a decade to reverse.

“Let’s be careful. Let’s make sure we don’t make rash decisions we regret later,” Smith said.

The House is following the course recommended by Gov. Henry McMaster, who also wanted to copy and paste the 2019-2020 budget, spending at the same levels this budget year at least until January.

The Senate’s budget bill also mostly copied last year’s spending with a few exceptions. They said they answered fears of mid-year cuts if the economy gets worse because of the pandemic by setting aside $500 million of the $775 million left over in previous budgets in case revenue estimates are too high.

The Senate proposal set aside $50 million for education, most of it going toward funding small “step increase” raises for teachers, which amount to several hundred dollars a year given annually as teachers gain experience.

Smith said the House will give teachers those raises in January and included the six months of extra money they should have gotten if the raises were in place when contracts started July 1.

The Senate addition to

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Garden City Schools Name New Math, STEAM Leader

GARDEN CITY, NY — The Garden City School District announced that Christina Cardella will be the new coordinator of mathematics and STEAM. Cardella, appointed on Aug. 18, takes on the responsibilities previously held by Stu Dods, who retired earlier this summer. The position has been expanded to include the aspects of science, technology, engineering and the arts.

Cardella comes to Garden City from Massachusetts, where she served as a STEM coordinator in the Chelsea Public Schools. Prior to that, she was director of math and business in the Melrose Public Schools and has many years of experience as a high school mathematics teacher in the Belmont and Medford school districts. She has received the Partners in Excellence Teacher Award from Mass Insight based on her success teaching AP Statistics, the Staff and Teacher Appreciation and Recognition Award from Belmont High School parents and several other honors from students.

In her recent roles, Cardella was instrumental in establishing a vision for math, science and technology education. She helped her districts plan and implement new programs and curricula as well as course offerings, professional development opportunities and pathways for students to maximize their achievement. She also supported the creation and analysis of district benchmark assessments. She has led and overseen various staff members and teams, and has presented at national and regional conferences.

Cardella holds a Master’s Degree in Education with a concentration in math from Salem State College and obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics and Education from Bucknell University. She minored in Spanish and completed part of her studies at the University of Sevilla, Spain.

“The district is excited to welcome Ms. Cardella and expand this position to add the STEAM components,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kusum Sinha. “We look forward to the contributions that she will make to our students and programs.”

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