Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ald. Latasha Thomas on Good Day Chicago


On her appearance this morning on FOX Chicago Ald. Thomas starts right off talking about education and safety. Mentioning the deaths of so many CPS students in the past year she plans to create safe zones for students and talks up the idea of year-around school schedules.

The 17th Ward is a neighboring ward located to the west it is just north of the 21st Ward represented by Ald. Howard Brookins.

Chicago Police net $20M in stimulus funds

Austin Weekly News:
Grants from the federal stimulus package will give the Chicago Police Department an extra $20 million to spend on overtime for officers and new equipment in the coming months, according to the department.

The funds come at an opportune time as crime typically increases with the temperatures. Critics, though, feel the extra cash should be spent on hiring new officers instead of paying an already strained force to work additional hours.

"Staffing is always a problem," said Mark P. Donahue, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Chicago Lodge 7. "It's only gotten worse since last January."

But, he added, "As long as they spend it (stimulus funds) on manpower, we're for it."

Although the department isn't hiring any new officers with stimulus funding, spokesperson Roderick Drew said police will spend $9.1 million of the money to concentrate patrols in high-crime areas through a program called Project Safe City.
Also worth a read from the Austin

$50B price tag to fix aging rail transit in Chicago, 6 other cities

AP:
More than one-third of the trains, equipment and facilities of the nation's seven largest rail transit agencies are near the end of their useful life or past that point, the government said Thursday. Many have components that are defective or may be critically damaged.

A report by the Federal Transit Administration estimates it will cost $50 billion to bring the rail systems in Chicago, Boston, New York, New Jersey, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., into good repair and $5.9 billion a year to maintain them.

Those seven systems carry 80 percent of the nation's rail transit passengers, or more than 3 billion passenger trips a year. They also include some of the oldest subways and commuter railroads. Some of their facilities date back more than a century.
Another article of interest

Cultural Crock Pot: Café Trinidad offers homestyle island fare

Location: 557 E 75th St, Chicago, IL 60619, USA
From Chicago Weekly:
Serial dieters and otherwise picky eaters beware: Café Trinidad serves up generous portions of Trinbagonian food just like your fantasy grandmother used to make. The food is as filling as it is flavorful. You may want to save the calorie counting for when you’re back on campus because each bite transports the palate.

Tucked away on the corner of 75th Street and St. Lawrence Avenue in Grand Crossing, Café Trinidad’s one-room restaurant is fittingly proportionate to the tiny country that the Hicks family calls home. For five years, the Hicks have followed a disciplined routine that would make even Benjamin Franklin blush. Each day of the week, the family comes into the restaurant at 7am to start preparing the dumplings, curries, and jerk chicken that will feed the hungry lunch and dinner crowds later on. Despite the impetuousness of heat and spice, it’s a process that can’t be rushed.

The national cuisine of Trinidad and Tobago is as storied as the forced migrations that mark the islands’ history. A sort of cultural Crock Pot, Trini gastronomy borrows from the varied culinary traditions of India, West Africa, Spain, and the Americas to create dishes that are even more delicious than the sum of their parts. Take curry, for example. Café Trinidad prepares their curry with your choice of meat—goat, chicken, crab or shrimp. (Vegetarian options are limited to channa curry.) Unlike Indian or Southeast Asian curries, Trini curry is a mild brown sauce that gives full play to the tender, slow-cooked protein. Spooned atop a bed of fluffy brown rice and black-eyed peas (a nod to Creole dirty rice and Cuban black beans and rice), nothing could be better. Don’t expect to chow down mindlessly, though. Meat at Café Trinidad is prepared as it should be—bones intact. Think of it as a natural reminder to slow down and savor the next bite on Island Time.
Taste of the World in our ward.

Daley Brushes Off Notion of Avoiding Subways Due to Flu

CPR:
The mayor was specifically responding to comments made by Vice-President Joe Biden earlier Thursday. Biden said he was advising his own family to avoid airplanes and subways because of swine flu. Mayor Daley brushed that idea aside.

DALEY: We all have to get to work, I mean we'd be staying out of our cars, out of subways, how about elevators?  No, I mean, no, you have to remember, we have to use some common sense.

Later, Daley said the best thing for people to do is stay alert, especially when it comes to children. Meantime, Vice President Biden's office backed off his earlier comments. It released a statement saying the vice president meant to say people who are sick should avoid airplanes and subways.
Other stories about the "Swine Flu"

Quarter-million Chicagoans on brink of poverty: study

Crain's:
Chicago’s poor population could grow by 253,000 if the nation’s unemployment rate reaches 9% this year.

At the same time, the number of Illinois residents pushed into poverty could grow by more than 400,000, according to a report released Thursday by the Heartland Alliance Mid-America Institute on Poverty, a non-profit advocate for the poor.

The state’s increase would be an “enormous jump” in the number of individuals living at or below the federally defined poverty level, said Amy Rynell, a co-author of the report. A family of four with an annual income at or below $22,050 is considered living in poverty.

The national unemployment rate was 8.5% in March, the latest figure available.
Here are some more stories of interest

A Kennedy may run against Burris

Well this is really old news, but should be noted none the less:
Another Kennedy may enter the spotlight of US politics. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, 45-year-old Christopher Kennedy is looking to give Sen. Roland Burris a run for his money next year. The president of Chicago-based Merchandise Mart has reportedly hired a pollster to test the waters for a possible run for the senate seat vacated by President Obama.
You might have seen this news first in Michael Sneed on Tuesday:
Sneed has learned Chris Kennedy, son of the late U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy, may be this/close to entering the U.S. Senate sweepstakes from Illinois.

• • To wit: "Right now, it's an 85 percent chance Chris is going to do it," a top Kennedy source tells Sneed.

• • Poll 'em: Sneed is told Kennedy, who runs the Merchandise Mart, has commissioned Obama pollster John Anzalone -- and has talked to media consultants Larry Grisolano and John Kupper, who now run the firm once headed by David Axelrod, President Obama's senior adviser.

• • Translation: The poll, which is expected at the end of the week, "will give him a better lay of the land in this ever-changing race," the source said.

• • The rationale: Top Dem party sources tell Sneed a Kennedy candidacy would bring instantaneous name recognition. "He's also lived here for 25 years, is in his late 40s, comes from a business background, and has that Kennedy magic," the source added.
As of yet Sen. Burris hasn't decided if he's going to run for re-election. If you go by polls, one might conclude that the odds are certainly against him.

Burris' approval rating among likely Democratic primary voters is only 27%, to 49% disapproval. In a primary against state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who has already declared his candidacy, Giannoulias leads with 49% to Burris at 20%. Adding Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who is publicly mulling a candidacy and will announce her intentions in June, it's Giannoulis 38%, Schakowsky 26%, Burris 16%.

If state Attorney General Lisa Madigan were to get in, though, she could take the whole field: Madigan 44%, Giannoulias 19%, Burris 13%, Schakowsky 11%. If Madigan were to run for governor instead, she also has a 45%-29% lead over the new Governor Pat Quinn, who took office after Rod Blagojevich was removed from office.
There's still a long way until 2010. How could things look better for Burris in the long run?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Real estate development doesn't equal economic development

Something I pulled from this article at New Geography the basic idea is to look at those cities that aren't ideal for job growth. You should read the whole thing, but I just excerpt what caught my attention:
It is un-American to abandon hope, but there needs to be a radical shift in strategy to focus on creating new middle-class jobs. Some Midwestern cities, like Kalamazoo and Indianapolis, have made some successful efforts to diversify their economies, encouraging start-ups and trying to be business-friendly.

But those are exceptions. Cleveland, one of our worst big cities, could spark a renaissance by revamping its port and nearby industrial hinterland. Once the world economy improves, it could re-emerge--building on the existing knowledge and skills of its production- and design-savvy population--as a hub for manufacturing and exports.

But right now, Cleveland does not seem to be pursuing such opportunities. As Purdue's Ed Morrison has pointed out, local leaders there seem to "confuse real estate development with economic development."

So Cleveland will focus on inanities such as convention business and tourism, believing we all fantasize about a week enjoying the sights along Lake Erie. Yet even high-profile buildings like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, completed in 1986, have not transformed a gritty old industrial town into a beacon for the hip and cool.

Old industrial cities like Cleveland are better off focusing on their locational advantages--access to roads, train lines and water routes--while offering a safe, inexpensive and friendly venue for ambitious young families, immigrants and entrepreneurs.

From brownfield to green?

Clout City talks about the vacant property that once housed factories on the south lakefront from 79th to the Calumet River. Read on there are even pictures of the site itself!
Over the last couple years U.S. Steel and several partners have put together a plan to turn the tract into what amounts to a new neighborhood, with 17,000 housing units, a million square feet of retail, a marina, and some "sustainable" features like LEED construction and perhaps even offshore windmills. Despite some recent snags related to the crummy economy, developer McCaffery Interests says the plans are slowly getting under way.

Right now, though, the property is a mostly empty expanse of slag that's going to need taxpayer help to turn habitable. McCaffery is currently working with city officials on plans to rezone the area for residential and retail use and to create a tax increment financing district that would cover the costs of infrastructure such as roads and sewer and water lines.

Illinois Democratic Party stuck in the past

Carol Marin:
What's stunning is that there actually have been elections since 2006. Just this month, a whole host of Democrats were running in municipal races. And Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley was fighting hard to win his way into Congress.

But you'd never know it by looking at information provided by the state Democratic Party.

The only contemporary posting is a reminder that Mike Madigan's big spring fund-raiser is May 4 at the Island Bay Yacht Club in Springfield. Oh, and tickets are $150 a pop.

What, if anything, does this Web site tell us about the Democratic Party in Illinois?

For one thing, it tells us that while Barack Obama set a new, stratospheric standard for using the Internet to market campaigns, the state party from which he sprang hasn't copied a single page from his book.

Is there a place on the Web site to easily volunteer to work on Democratic campaigns? No. Are there e-mail addresses? Don't be silly. There isn't even a button to donate to the party. Snail mail and phone numbers are the best the site has to offer.

Then again, maybe Madigan's operation has no need for all that outreach. After all, don't Democrats control every state constitutional office, both houses of the General Assembly, run Chicago and dominate the formerly Republican suburbs?

Yes, yes, yes and yes.

Still, it's curious to see such a Dark Ages setup for the state party. That is, unless you stop looking at it as a state party and see it as, in the words of one party strategist who requested anonymity, "an overgrown caucas run by the speaker of the House, Mike Madigan, to elect people Madigan sent."
My observation of the site is that it's certainly not open to allow supporters to either get involved with the party or even to get information out to their supporters in a timely fashion. By comparison the Republican Party of the state has their eye on the ball for that! Even if they have problems with their percieved infighting.

Boos greet choice of new Chicago State leader

Well whoever it was, well they weren't going to win anyway weren't they.

Tribune:
Chicago State University trustees this morning chose Wayne Watson, chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago, as president, replacing ousted leader Elnora Daniel.

The announcement at a trustees' meeting was greeted with boos.

Watson was selected over Carol Adams, secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services. Critics characterized both of them as political insiders.

"I feel that I'm at a funeral, and we are presiding over the burial of hope and change," said Van Searcy, president of the Faculty Senate, during the period for public comment after the vote.

The announcement came days after the Faculty Senate took the unusual step of asking Gov. Pat Quinn to remove the trustees and stop the board from hiring a president.
Well I wonder how is it the top candidates for that position are known quantities within both the city and state political establishment.

Chatham, Chicago wiki entry edited

Often in the past I could check this entry a day, a week, a month, two months, four months or more and would probably note that there wasn't a change made at all. There isn't much on this page often although for other city neighborhoods regardless of race, income or even their publicity (the fact that they're well-known) may have more information regarding that particular neighborhood or community area.

This morning I checked out Chatham wiki entry. I actually decided to use Google to seek out more information and of course Wikipedia came up and I see the following...
Chatham, located on the south side, is one of the 77 official community areas of South Side of the city of Chicago, Illinois. It includes the neighborhoods of Chatham and West Chesterfield. Its residents are overwhelmingly middle and upper income African American and it is home to Senator Roland Burris.
Interesting, very interesting. Someone cared to bring up this fact although it's certainly great to know that we have a US Senator living in our ward or for those who actually live in Chatham it's great to have a US Senator as a neighbor.

Typically however this entry doesn't have much information on history. Currently there is just information on demographics and transporation in the general area. Surely someone out there has the ability to provide more information than is provided on that entry.

If you want more information there is always the Encyclopedia of Chicago. You can find that in the sidebar under Chicagoland links.

Chicago area transit use jumps 9% over last 5 years, RTA says

Sun-Times:
More area residents used public transit, and there was more public transit to use between 2003 and 2007, according to a Regional Transportation Authority report to be released today.

Both the number of miles of service available and the number of miles traveled by riders rose about 9 percent in those five years, the report found. The average number of annual rides taken per Chicago area resident also rose, from 69.6 in 2003 to 72.9 in 2007.

But the cost of keeping the buses and trains running rose faster than the rate of inflation, due to higher fuel, labor and health care costs. Capital funding sunk from $1.04 billion in 2007 to $345 million in 2007.
Via CapFax morning shorts!

Probable swine flu closes Rogers Park school

Tribune:
A probable case of swine flu has prompted the closing of a North Side elementary school for at least two days.

The case involves a student at Kilmer Elementary School, 6700 N. Greenview Ave. in the Rogers Park neighborhood, Chicago Public Schools chief Ron Huberman said at a morning press conference at the school.

Chicago Public Health Commissioner Terry Mason said the student "is recovered at home." Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said the student is 12.

Huberman said tests on the student have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and he expects results back in 24 to 36 hours.

The decision to close the school was made Tuesday after the state reported the probable case to CPS and the system noticed an unusually high absentee rate at the school, Huberman said.

Attendance at the school is normally 94 to 96 percent, but it was 87 percent on Tuesday, Huberman said. That was "clearly enough of a differential" to warrant the closing. He said the school would be closed "indefinitely," but at least for two days.
Just to let you know how serious this disease is there has been a reported confirmed death from swine flu in the nation:
A two-year-old child in Texas has become the first fatality from swine flu in the United States, officials said Wednesday.

"A child has died from the H1N1 virus," the acting director of the Centers for Disease Control Dr. Richard Besser told CNN's "American Morning" on Wednesday. "As a parent and a pediatrician, my heart goes out to the family."
There's probably more information on the precautions taken by city, county and state authorities on this potential outbreak. I'll refer you to Monday's post and perhaps post new information in this post during the day.

The Broken Heart of Roger's Park is keeping an eye on the situation at the school in Roger's Park.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Recent comment

Fed up, made a comment in the Minority Aldermanic longevity post. Well it was out of place I thought, but let's bring it to light. This person seems disenchanted with the ward, unfortunately.
I've lived in this ward for 3 years: my house got broken in to twice, my car got stolen my house got spray painted,my radio got stolen out my car, the windows got busted (not all at the same time), and my daughter can't go to the bus stop without some grown man saying something to her (she is 15) I'm moving I had enough.
These are some very unfortunate events!

Well this is why the blog is here. I want to hear about how people feel about living in this ward for better or for worse. And at that we should figure out how to make things better.

Are there any other concerns out there?

Chicago's home price drop smaller than U.S. in February

AP:
Chicago-area prices fell less than they did nationwide, but unlike the country, the local year-over-year drop in February was higher than in January.

Also, Chicago-area prices fell more from January to February than nationwide, dropping 3.4% compared with 2.2% for the nationwide index.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index released Tuesday showed home prices in 20 major cities fell 18.6 percent in February compared with February 2008. That was slightly better than January's 19 percent and the first time since January 2007 the index didn't set a record.

Chicago prices were down 17.6 percent in February compared with the year-earlier period, while local prices fell 16 percent in January compared with January 2008.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Red-light camera should capture right car with right plate

An article from the Naperville Sun.

I'm sure many of us have experience some type of frustration now that Chicago has employed the use of red-light cameras to catch people in the act!

This was the story of a woman who was nowhere near the location a camera caught her at. She got a ticket in the mail and she decided to contest this. She had to cough up some money to even protest this red light ticket and had to appear at the Daley Center three times before a license plate was produced.

That license plate was key to getting her case dismissed. Why?
After all the dust had cleared and the expenses were paid by this tenacious senior citizen, including time, parking fees, tolls as well as anguish and distress, the case was dismissed.

It was dismissed simply because, after investigation by this lady, it was discovered that two vehicles registered in the state of Illinois can have the same identical plate number. The only difference is that one is a vanity plate.
A case of mistaken identity! Especially since this woman drives a Buick and the car that was caught on camera was a Chrysler van.

Via Instapundit!

Harold Washington looks to assessment efforts after self-review

Chi-Town Daily News:
When the staff at Harold Washington College realized recently that many on the campus didn’t know what the school’s connection to the former mayor was, they promptly put up photos of him in the lobby and commissioned a memorial.

While that may seem a trivial move for a community college with more than 19,000 full- and part-time students, it was one of the first and most noticeable changes as the school launched into an intensive review process to renew its accreditation.

The process dissected the 145-word mission statement of the college, finding among other things that it was too long and many people didn’t know its key points – an issue of wordsmithing, college president John Wozniak says.

But keeping students aware of Washington’s legacy of encouraging diversity and open government is now a more prominent effort at the school, he says.

“It’s going to have to be an ongoing thing to the extent that, and this always happens, there are some faculty who are more invested than others,” Wozniak says.
Read the whole thing!

Fighting youth violence focus of meeting, march

Daley and the police superintendant paid a visit to the West Pullman neighborhood and schools CEO Huberman was in the neighborhood (West Chatham) speaking at a neighborhood church.

Check out the videos at Chicago Breaking News.

Ill. officials ready for possible swine flu

Please note there are no confirmed cases. Let's hope it stays that way.

AP:
Officials say they're focusing on special populations, such as children, seniors and immigrants, and they're ready to handle any possible infections.

Seven people with cold symptoms have already been tested for the swine flu, but none are carrying the virus.

Illinois Public Health Director Damon Arnold says officials are in daily contact with local hospitals and health departments. He says the state will receive additional anti-flu drugs from federal stockpiles this week.
And CPS is preparing itself for this flu as well:
Huberman says parents would be asked basic health questions when they call their children in sick. He said that information would be shared with the public health department.

Huberman also says principals and school nurses would receive special protocols to follow in time for classes to convene Monday.
Here's a link to CPS with information regarding their response to the swine flu.

UPDATE One school is already taking steps according to the Tribune although one aspect of that was already listed above:
Orozco Community Academy Principal Coralia Barraza also says when parents call to say their children are home sick, school officials are being told to ask more questions about the illness than they typically do.

Barraza says the school in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood is being particularly vigilant because it has a lot of Hispanic children and routinely enrolls students who've just arrived from Mexico -- including one just last week.

She also says students travel with their families to and from Mexico.
Probably not a big deal yet, but it's better to know about this a possible outbreak than to not know.

UPDATE Also from the Tribune Cook County officials are preparing for an outbreak as well.
With at least 22 people dead from swine flu in Mexico and at least 40 reported cases in the United States, local health officials said this morning they're making plans in case patients here contract the illness.

Cook County health officials decided this morning to put patients at county emergency rooms and clinics with flu-like symptoms in airborne isolation until they can be tested. They also ordered that anyone entering the room of suspected carriers must wear a protective gown, goggles, gloves and a mask, said Stroger Hospital spokesman Marcel Bright.

Officials have reserves of the vaccine Tamiflu, as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and will meet through the afternoon to devise other preparatory measures. "We have the equipment and staff necessary to treat patients" if there is an outbreak, Bright said. "We have all that on hand."
UPDATE Read Swine flu tips from Julie's Health Club at the Tribune.

UPDATE CLTV gives us the break down on this swine flu. Eating pork or pork products will not infect you with the swine flu! That's the main thing.

CTA mulls safety shields for bus drivers

Jon Hilkevitch:
Crime on the CTA system grabs headlines and the attention of bloggers when passengers are robbed or assaulted, but CTA employees also are the target of thugs.

About 10 offenses occur each month in which bus drivers are the victims, according to CTA union officials.

As a result, the CTA has been conducting an experiment with the union to better protect bus drivers from possible attacks. One idea that emerged from the transit agency's bus-driver assault subcommittee was to install clear, shatter-proof safety shields that swing into position to cover the driver compartment.

About 500 of the CTA's roughly 2,000 buses are equipped with the plastic shields made of Lexan, officials said. A decision is pending on whether to outfit all buses with the devices, which cost about $800 each to buy and install, officials said. So far, about $400,000 has been spent on the pilot project.

"When the shield is available, I do use it," said Erika Martin, 35, a 12-year CTA veteran who drives the No. 70 Division Street route. "But the regular passengers I have do feel it's a block between open communications."
As a rider I generally know what I'm doing so I may not have to talk to the driver often enough. I want bus drivers to be safe because there are those out there who will harm a bus driver or think it's funny to throw a snowball at a bus driver (something I've witnessed once while riding past Harlan on a bus one winter day many years ago!). Eggs were mentioned, but I heard of an instance where a bus driver was "assaulted" by a fire extinguisher. Anyway here's more
CTA policy dictates that when shields are available, bus drivers must use them. That hasn't been taken well by some drivers. An upcoming rule change will make use of the shields optional, said CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney.

It's hard to argue with the fact that if shields were in place on all buses, recent incidents that could have been stopped include bricks and eggs being thrown through the front door at drivers and unruly riders punching, kicking or pepper-spraying bus operators, according to proponents of the shields.

"Just the other day, a lady hit an operator while he was driving, which could have caused a serious accident," said Carlos J. Acevedo, assistant business agent of maintenance with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241.
 Well other than the incidents there are concerns regarding the use of these shields:
But the safety shields are controversial. Acevedo estimated up to 80 percent of drivers don't like the shields or want to see them improved. Among the complaints are that the shields interfere with air circulation and create glare that interferes with the drivers using mirrors. Some beefy drivers also say the shields make the operator quarters too tight. Other drivers are worried the shields would pin them in during a collision.

Acevedo said CTA managers are backing the shield because "they figure it will cut down on worker's compensation claims."

"The union would rather see the CTA have its own police force," Acevedo said, to replace the mass-transit unit of the Chicago Police Department.

The CTA's new boss said he is concerned the shields may foster a mistaken public impression of crime being rampant on the CTA, when in fact it occurs at a lower rate than across Chicago overall.

CTA president Richard Rodriguez said that although the bus-driver shields serve a function, he thinks they also form an unwanted barrier between bus operators and their customers.

"We want customers to feel welcome as well as safe when they ride our system," said Rodriguez, who plans to conduct rider surveys to get feedback before deciding the future of the program.
What do you think about CTA bus drivers having these shields for their protection?

Via CapFax morning shorts!

Honorary street signs have gone too far: alderman

Sun-Times:
Second Ward Ald. Bob Fioretti thinks so, and that's why he's taken up the cause of curbing the number of honorary street signs in the city. It's a tough fight -- unsuccessful attempts have been made to stop or limit the practice for decades. Fioretti's first proposal was deferred last week, but he's still working with other aldermen on ideas.

"When you have 2,000 honorary signs, what's the value of them and what's the visual pollution they cause?" Fioretti said.

Fioretti says firefighters worry that a person reporting an accident in a strange neighborhood may call 9-1-1 and give the wrong street because they're looking at the honorary sign. Mayor Daley had voiced the same concern, though he has said the designations are the exclusive purview of each of the 50 aldermen.

Another problem is deciding who gets the signs. A family who has lived on a block for generations may get an honorary sign -- which angers another family who has also lived on the block for generations, Fioretti said.
"There are a lot of city resources devoted to putting up these signs," Fioretti said. "It's wasteful."

Fioretti said if the city has to have these signs, there should be standards about who should get them, and they should be away from major intersections and boulevards to avoid confusion. Another idea is to create a three-year sunset -- removing the signs after they've been up three years.
Not sure this has really been a problem in the 6th, however the controversy has been around in the city for a while. Especially with the blow-up over an honorary street sign for the late Black Panther leader Fred Hampton hear the place where he was murdered on the west side.

Cook County's overtime time bomb

Sun-Times:
If Joseph Lafata were to retire anytime soon from his job as a maintenance supervisor with the Cook County Highway Department, he'd have a nice cushion to take with him into retirement: a $60,000 payout for more than 1,000 overtime hours that he has accumulated -- hours that, in theory, he's supposed to take as paid time off.

County highway workers have amassed mountains of what's called "time-off overtime" -- TOOT, for short -- a Chicago Sun-Times review of county records shows, with Lafata piling up more overtime than anyone else.

The idea behind TOOT is this: Rather than pay county highway employees for all the extra hours they might end up working from week to week, some of them are allowed to take paid time off later.

But rather than do that, many have been accumulating it and then cashing in when they retire or leave their county job months or years later -- when their salaries are higher. Then, they are paid for that time at their final salary, which is sometimes much higher than what they were making when they accumulated the time.

In all, county records obtained by the Sun-Times show, highway workers have banked 44,000 hours of overtime currently worth about $2.2 million. Forty-one people -- more than 14 percent of everyone on the Highway Department payroll -- have each stacked up more than 300 hours, or nearly eight weeks.

Another 50 highway workers are sitting on 200 to 300 hours of accumulated overtime, records show.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tours showcase new, renovated homes

Chatham and Park Manor are stops on the tour. This Tribune article was from April 24, 2009:
Bungalows by bus

Chicago Bungalow and local history buffs can tour some of the city's notable and iconic neighborhoods with the 2009 "Bungalows by Bus" tours offered by the Chicago Architecture Foundation and the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association.

On May 17, the South Tour will take attendees through the McKinley Park, Gage Park, Chicago Lawn and Chatham neighborhoods, along with the South Park Manor Historic District and renovated green bungalows.
...
Space is limited and reservations are encouraged. The cost for is $40 for non-members and $30 for CAF and HCBA members. For reservations, call the CAF at 312-922-3432 or visit architecture.org.
Picture found from Thornton 29 on Flickr.

Also for more on the South Park Manor District look here.

Obama rapped on urban problems

A Sun-Times article involving our very own Roland Burris:
[Community activist Mark] Allen and others directed their comments to U.S. Sen. Roland Burris, who has had en even rougher start than Obama. But Burris was spared the residents’ criticism during the 90-minute meeting at which they asked him to carry their agenda in Washington.

Allen’s concerns were echoed by former Chicago Housing Authority Director Phil Jackson, now head of the Black Star project, who showed Burris a map of the 34 Chicago Public School students killed in the last nine months — centered around a flag that marks Obama’s home in Kenwood.

More stimulus money needs to be targeted to jobs and internships for youth, Jackson said. “When we had a summer jobs program, we were able to keep 80 children safe and off the streets,” Jackson said. “When it ended, three of them were shot. One of them was killed. We have to rebuild the black family. We need strong institutions in our community.’’

Obama’s stimulus package includes $2 million to hire more police officers and buy new crime-fighting technology.

But Burris told Jackson there was little the government could do to solve the problems of broken African-American families.

“No government, no senator, no alderman, no representative is going to be in your family dealing with those kids that we’re raising,” he said.

And Burris, 71, said he found himself at a loss trying to stop some children from turning to crime, saying “an old gentleman like me trying to deal with 10- and 12-year-olds that will cuss you out in a minute if you look at ’em . . . ”

Jackson interjected: “That’s what we need help on.”

“A dollar bill ain’t going to help that,” Burris replied.
...
Asked after the forum to address Allen’s criticisms of Obama, Burris said: “Those are his comments. I don’t have any comment on that.”
...

Burris has all but stopped taking questions from the media and does not publish a schedule of public events. He was visibly alarmed to see a reporter arrive at Saturday’s meeting and emphasized that any story should include the fact that his vote was crucial to passing the stimulus bill.

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), who sat at a table with Burris, praised Burris’ stimulus vote and faulted the media for covering Sen. Richard Durbin’s news conferences to announce stimulus funds for fixing up the CTA Blue Line and other projects.

“It took two senators to vote on the stimulus package out of Illinois, yet only one senator is having press conferences about all the money that’s coming to different programs, different things in the city of Chicago,” Beale said. “We need to stress the fact that there were two votes.”
Interesting! Via Marathon Pundit!

Daley suggests Stroger explain patronage scandal

Clout St:
Mayor Richard Daley weighed in on the patronage scandal surrounding Cook County Board President Todd Stroger today, suggesting his ally should explain himself to the public.

"He has to speak on behalf of himself. I've known the family for many, many years," Daley said after a peace rally. "He has to get out there and be able to explain that to everyone in Cook County."

(When it's come to his own administration, Daley has not followed his own advice. The mayor has not detailed numerous City Hall hiring scandals over the years when pressed by reporters.)
...
Stroger fired Cole earlier this month when he said he first learned Cole did not report a prior conviction on his job application. Then Stroger dumped Dunnings, saying it would be tough for her to do the job because Cole might make unspecified "explosive" allegations against her.

On Thursday, Stroger maintained he has given consistent answers about the Cole case, even as new information cast doubt on his administration's version of events.

Stroger aides said they got an FBI report Nov. 20 that showed Cole lied about at least two previous criminal convictions on his application, meaning the administration should have known months before Cole was fired. And Illinois State Police, who Stroger sought to blame for a delay in a background check, said they mailed a final background check on Cole to the county on Dec. 20. Stroger aides said it might have been "lost in the mail."

County commissioners pressed Stroger to clear the air on what they said were inconsistencies in Stroger's story.

Syron Smith on the shooting at 71st & Vincennes


He interviews a local resident in his recent video.

You can learn more about that shooting here.

Plans to Ship Out of Avalon Leaves UPS Customers With Fewer Options

Another found item today out of The Citizen:
United Parcel Service (UPS) located on 8133 S. Dobson announced plans to close its doors on June 26 and to reassign 130 employees to other full service staffing locations.

Hundreds of residents in the area will have to use alternative sites at Staples on 7530 S. Stony Island and at UPS on 1507 E. 53rd St. where services will be limited.

As a part of the change, Kristen Petrella, a UPS spokesperson said while customers will be able to ship packages from those alternative locations, they will need to go to full service centers in Harvey, Bedford Park or at the downtown station on Jefferson Street in order to pick up packages if UPS attempts to make several home deliveries but are unsuccessful.
I was there not too long ago to pick up a laptop.

Home sales in Chicago area start to show more signs of life

Tribune:
Area real estate agents are making space in their cars for clients again and they get almost bubbly when they talk about the uptick in activity.

"I'm so thankful," said Mark Zipperer, a Re/Max Edge agent in Chicago, as he ticked off his busy schedule of appointments last week. "It's like after a drought, it's raining. Not only did I have a lot of people sitting in my car [last weekend] but one of my oldest listings sold."

In the past few weeks, agents say an undeniable scent of sales is in the air, and data released Thursday gave credibility to their talk.

March sales of previously owned single-family homes and condominiums in Illinois posted their second consecutive month-over-month gain, and for the first time since June, the statewide median price for a home rose from the prior month.

Suburban counties seeing among the largest month-over-month sales increases were Lake County, 65 percent; Kendall County, 51 percent; and Cook County, 38 percent.

Realty agents are taking pains to not get too giddy. After all, that 38 percent one-month gain in sales in Cook County translated to 2,409 properties sold. In March 2008, 3,432 homes sold in Cook County.

Preventing Violence in Chicago This Summer and Beyond

N'Digo - A Stark Look:
One of the major concerns of Chicagoans is the growing violence amongst out school-aged children. We have now witnessed the murder of almost 40 young students in the last 12 months. The Chicago Police Department has labeled these killings “gang related murders by unknown killers.” This label usually means that the crime will never be solved and the killer(s) will never be caught and brought to justice. Thus, future killers will feel free to continue engaging in violent behavior as a means of settling differences.

In the last 40 years, we have endured the failure of hundreds of so-called solutions to the problems of youth violence. These solutions have ranged from targeted youth social service programs, after school programs, college open enrollment accompanied by high school tutoring, behavior modification and so-called anti-gang violence prevention programs funded by the state and federal governments.

In the meantime, our public schools have continued to deteriorate in their ability to educate our children and the number of children graduating from high school each year has decreased each year. Unfortunately, while the proportion of public school graduates has gone down, we have witnessed a proportional increase in the amount of violence on the part of the young men in inner city communities who have left school for various reasons. Many of these young people, especially inner city youths have been, in effect, “pushed out” and labeled “dropouts.” Many of these young people are homeless and jobless. We often forget that unemployment in inner city neighborhoods can run as high as 50 percent for teenagers. So when we combine poorly performing schools, chronically high unemployment and homelessness together with a hostile environment, the results beget more violence and disorder.
Been awhile since I've read N'Digo online. Read the whole thing!

I sat on this since the 16th. 

Neighbor-to-Neighbor: Local Groups Are on a Mission

Our neighborhood newspaper, The Citizen, takes a look at our ward's prominent community organizations and what they do.
Creating milestones in education, economic development, quality housing, youth programs, neighborhood beautification, civil rights, and crime, neighborhood organizations on Chicago’s South Side like Chatham Avalon Park Community Council; Park Manor Neighbors Community Council; Chesterfield Community and the Greater Chatham Alliance, have made a real difference for years.
Park Manor Neighbors:
Park Manor Neighbors Community Council (PMNC), the oldest of all four, started in 1948 and was founded by a Caucasian minister when the neighborhood was predominately white. Today, Darlene Tribue, who has been president for 20 years, has a lot of hope for the community. “We’re still struggling, but we have some successes. We’ll never give up on the community and what it continues to stand for and that is integrity, dignity, and justice,” she said.
Chesterfield Community Council (CCC):
Frank Sayre started CCC in 1952 and later became the first president in 1955. The organization was originally founded to keep Black people out of the community in the 1950s when Blacks first began migrating into the area. Today, CCC advocates for quality housing and education on behalf of residents, helps prevent crime and promotes the overall well being of the community.
CAPCC:
Established in 1955, the Chatham Avalon Park Community Council (CAPCC) led by Keith Tate was instrumental in bringing Whitney Young Branch Library to the community and was a driving force behind attracting businesses like Senior Suites of Chatham, Mathers More than a Café and Target into the neighborhood. Working with established businesses like Izola’s Restaurant, Army and Lou’s Restaurant, Tailorite Cleaners and Fletcher’s One Stop Record Shop to fight crime by using cameras promises to benefit residents and businesses alike.
Greater Chatham Alliance:
Members of Greater Chatham Alliance (GCA) are taking their cause to the streets and are looking for, “No Excuses,” when they get there. Formerly the Wabash, Indiana, and Michigan Block Association, the group changed its name to the GCA in 2008 and was founded in 1983.
Read the whole thing to see what these organizations do and what their plans for the future are!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Doctor's web site highlights Chicago healthcare bargains

Chi-Town Daily News:
When physician Leslie Ramirez launched Leslie's List, an online database of local health care prices, she knew it would help people learn what kind of options existed for drugs and testing.

But she didn't know it would become such an important reference for an increasing number of Chicagoans whose benefits have been cut or eliminated as a result of the economy.

"I was sick of seeing patients who were suffering basically because they couldn’t afford tests that I prescribed or medications," she says.

The idea to start the site came when Ramirez's mother said she would forego a mammogram because she had lost her insurance.

"It was clear that she didn’t understand there were options," Ramirez says.

So she pooled some money together and started Leslie'sList.org in February. To date, the site has had more than 21,000 visitors.
And other items worth reading from Chi-Town:
Many questions, few answers on Park District union settlement
Illinois' public health now relies on the click of a button

Alderman not biting at 'Felony Franks'

This was in the news yesterday. I'm not sure an alderman can determine what a business can name itself or even to keep it from opening, however, the name of this business should raise eyebrows. Although, I must admit someone has to give these ex-offenders a second chance and that's what this guy seeks to do. My problem is with how shameless he is about it, and that would be very unfortunate.

Story from the Tribune! You can also watch the vid here!

Mayor Daley Marks 20 Years in Office

CPR:
Today marks a milestone in the career of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. He's now held the job for 20 years. But the mayor wouldn't dwell on it at a press conference today.

DALEY: To me, it seemed like it just started yesterday in that if you enjoy what you're doing, then it's not a time - you don't look at it as time.

Daley refused to say if he plans to run for re-election in 2011. He's on-pace to become Chicago's longest-serving mayor. That's a record set by his father, Richard J. Daley, who was in office for more than 21 years.
Yesterday was also the Mayor's birthday as well.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Events at Chicago State University

From the University:
Today we are hosting 200 black male high school students for a one-day conference designed to inspire them to continue their education beyond high school. Keynote speaker is Dr. Lance Williams, Founder of the Know Thyself Program. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Breakey Theatre and the Student Union.

Next Monday and Tuesday we are hosting a national conference focusing on black males and higher education. “Continuing the Journey: Raising Expectations with Black Male Initiatives” will feature keynote speakers Ice-T and author and journalist Herb Boyd. Note: CSU presidential candidate Dr. Wayne Watson is scheduled to take part in a roundtable discussion on Tuesday beginning at 10 a.m. in the Jones Convocation Center. This is one day before the CSU Board of Trustees is likely to announce who the next president will be. The program is attached.

On Saturday, May 2, the University will host the inaugural Arthur Stephens Scholarship Walk to raise money for scholarships in his memory. The walk begins at 9 a.m. at the intersection of Cottage Grove and 95th street.
If you want more information Contact Brian Pitzer at bpitzer [at] csu [dot] edu

CTA unlikely to resume using accordion buses

Tribune:
About 225 accordion-style buses that the CTA removed from service in February after cracks and other structural defects were found will not be returned to the streets of Chicago, transit officials said Thursday.

Among the issues still to be resolved is how many millions of dollars in losses the CTA, the bus maker and taxpayers will be on the hook for in the $102.1 million deal gone sour.

The CTA and the manufacturer, North American Bus Industries Inc., continue to battle each other in Cook County Circuit Court. Lawsuits were filed after negotiations reached an impasse several years ago.

Hours after receiving inquiries from the Tribune on Thursday, the bus maker issued a voluntary recall aimed at inspecting and repairing the CTA buses. The company said it had been denied an opportunity to "fully inspect'' the CTA buses pulled from service two months ago.

The CTA still plans to return the buses to the Alabama-based manufacturer, CTA President Richard Rodriguez said.

"Given the six-year performance history of these buses, concerns about their long-term structural integrity and ongoing litigation with the manufacturer, it does not make sense to expend any more of our limited resources on these buses,'' Rodriguez said.
You might have seen these buses rolling around at 95th Street serving among other routes the 34 & 119 routes. Will there be other articulated buses purchased in their place?

Jewel cuts prices; will Dominick's follow?

I made a passing reference to Jewel's in a post about Chicago's unemployment rate. Today Tribune quotes a consultant who ponder the response of another major Chicago grocer:
Jewel, the largest grocery chain in Chicago, with around 185 stores, has seen its leading share of the roughly $12-billion local market reduced in recent years by the aggressive expansion of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which often sells grocery items up to 15% cheaper.

"This is a significant move," said Bill Bishop, a Barrington-based grocery consultant. "It's an expensive move, but it shows the company recognizes that it was vulnerable from a price point."

Bishop said the move will force Jewel's long-time rival Dominick's, the No. 2 grocer in Chicago with about 85 stores, to either lower prices or likely lose customers.
Perhaps Dominick's pulled out of their old 79th Street location too soon!

On the race for Burris' senate seat

A round-up from the CapFax including a story about the mayor's brother Bill Daley taking himself out of the race. Story about state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulis having to answer for a loss in a state sponsored fund. Also three stories about Roland Burris that I will share with you in this post.

Holt's primary opponent backing Bergmanson - PolitickerNJ
U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-Hopewell) will face an opponent in the 2010 Democratic primary: Lawrenceville resident Scott Baier, a 28-year-old former Mercer County Republican Committeeman who was a Socialist Party candidate for State Assembly in 2005. His platform includes putting George W. Bush, Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld on trial for war crimes, abolishing the U.S. Department of Defense, the nationalization of the media, legalization of all drugs, a constitutional amendment banning all guns, and a "total ban" on pornography.
...
Baier has endorsed former Glen Ridge Mayor Carl Bergmanson for the Democratic nomination for Governor, and says he's backing U.S. Senator Roland Burris in the 2010 Illinois Senate race.
Dems looking at alternatives to Sen. Burris - The Hill
Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) has not announced his reelection intentions, but Democratic partisans have signaled they are moving ahead with little concern for the embattled appointee.
...
But Senate Democrats have sent strong signals they are looking to other candidates, especially after Burris raised just $845 in the first three months of the year.

“Sen. Burris has not made a decision as to what he’s going to do,” said Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.), who heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “Certainly if I look at his fundraising quarter, I’m not sure it shows an intention to seriously run for the Senate.”
Burris Grills Hearing on Funds for Minority Businesses - Washington Post
What's Roland Burris up to these days? He's fallen off the radar screen since the drama of Rod Blagojevich selecting him to fill Barack Obama's seat. He says he hasn't decided yet if he is going to run for reelection in 2010, but the Chicago Tribune last week quoted a strategist saying Burris was embarking on a "very aggressive" fund-raising regimen. And judging from a hearing today of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee about stimulus spending, it is clear that Burris is doing all he can to tend to what he perceives as his political base: African American voters in Illinois. At the same time, though, Burris' performance at the hearing raised questions about whether he fully grasped the nature of the needs and services affecting that very population.


Burris spent a long chunk of time grilling the witnesses with questions that focused on one and only one thing: whether stimulus money was getting to African American communities in Illinois. He said that he had been peppered with questions during his recent break in Illinois from African American constituents demanding to know why more of the stimulus money wasn't coming their way.

"Small businesses are saying, 'Where's the money and who's getting it?'" he said. "How is the stimulus money going to impact the black community in Chicago, in Peoria, in Rockford?"

Robberies on CTA trains, buses and L platforms rise sharply in 2009

Sun-Times:
The CTA has become a scarier place.

Robbery has soared 77 percent on CTA trains, platforms and buses in the past three years, from 246 incidents in 2006 to 436 in 2008, according to the Chicago Police Department.

Theft -- when no force is involved -- is up 6 percent, from 1,173 reported crimes in 2006 to 1,238 in 2008.
What's being done?
Chicago Police have responded to the crime wave with a "robbery mission team" for public transit, with plainclothes officers focused on the high-crime times of 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. to 3 a.m., Graebe said.

Police made 4,933 arrests on the system last year, compared with 4,576 in 2007.

They have put a special focus on the west branches of the Blue and Green lines, where about 25 percent of the robberies happened.
...
[John] Graeber (commander of Chicago Police transportation sector) said passengers should keep their purses and laptops under their arms or under their feet instead of on the seats next to them.

If they're wearing jewelry, they should try to conceal it, and men should carry wallets in their front coat or pants pockets, not in the back.

Thieves also are more likely to target victims near doors -- so they can make a quick getaway.

Mostly, passengers should stay alert, Graeber said.

"The ride can be relaxing and enjoyable when you're looking out the window and listening to your iPod, and that's the worst thing you can do," Graeber said.
If you're taking public transportation buses or trains be careful out there! Perhaps there needs to be a decent presence of police or CTA personnel on transit. I wonder if the CTA regrets cutting conductors on CTA trains.

Read the whole thing!

Via CapFax morning shorts!

Daley: Wal-Mart has no chance in Chicago

AP:
Mayor Richard Daley contends there is no chance the latest effort to have a Wal-Mart built on Chicago's South Side will succeed.

Daley said Thursday that even though the store would generate tax revenue and create jobs for neighborhood residents, there aren't enough votes in the City Council to pass the required redevelopment agreement.

...
Opposition to Wal-Mart has come from labor unions, who claim the retailer does not pay workers adequately and skimp on benefits.

Daley's floor leader in the City Council, Alderman Pat O'Connor, says Brookins' latest effort comes at a time the city is trying to keep peace with the unions.
It's still about the unions. If this fight is about jobs let's not forget that they already have their jobs. Should they be worried about those without?

This fight is even more complicated as Daley wants to woo the Olympics to Chicago. Let's see what happens.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Illinois political campaign contributions

Last year a post about Aldermanic side jobs courtesy of the Tribune.

Now we look at who donated to whom. You can check out anyone's in this database. However, You can see who donated to the Alderman, especially.

There are a lot of names we see here. From names and businesses (local or corporate) in addition to other campaign committees going back to about 2003.

Local businesses such as Chatham Food Center, Community Insurance Center, Seaway Bancshares Inc., Izola's, & Shorebank. In addition to Home Depot and Albertson's (who I believe used to own Jewel's).

Hat-tip Uptown Update!

Metro Chicago unemployment up to 9.3%

Crain's:
Metropolitan Chicago’s jobless rate was 9.3% in March, a level not seen in 17 years.
The rate jumped from 5.6% the same month last year.

The figure reported Thursday by the Illinois Department of Employment Security has not been adjusted for seasonal factors — such as weather or holidays — that can account for a spike or a decline in hiring. The last time the area had a 9.3% jobless rate was in June 1992.

The metro area — which encompasses Chicago, Naperville and Joliet — had the seventh-highest March jobless rate for the 12 statistical areas tracked by IDES. Rockford’s was highest with 13.5%. 
 Also from Crain's: Jewel cuts prices to lure shoppers. Very interesting.

New Kennedy King College

Back in July 2007, Lee Bey wrote and took pictures of the new KKC campus. I want to know what other developments may come after the new campus opened in 2007.

Sen. Burris finding few takes for interns

Michael Sneed:
Sneed hears embattled U.S. Sen. Roland Burris, who's been unpopular with his peers since accepting the job from former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, is apparently having a hard time finding help.

•   •   To wit: Sneed is told Burris has placed job postings for interns with colleges throughout the state, including Loyola University Chicago and John Marshall Law School.

•   •   Translation: Burris is seeking interns to help deal with the media, manage his office, assist with scheduling, research litigation and answer phone calls -- among a ton of other things -- in his D.C. and Chicago offices.

•   •   Quoth a source: "Aren't there usually a million people who want to work for a U.S. senator?"

You bet.
DANG!

Poll: Daley in the dumper

From The Capitol Fax. Well I've been getting that feeling since at least the snowfall of late last year. Then came the potholes, then the parking meter flap, and the Olympics. What's going to be next?

Will there finally be Daley fatigue?

BTW, polls are surely valuable tools, however, they can be manipulated. I think I'm going to need more than a poll to guage what people really think about Daley. I'm going to need some comments. :)

UPDATE 10:54 AM I forgot to mention City Council numbers. They're doing worse than the mayor's. Progress Illinois has this brief analysis:
The take-away seems to be this: The public is giving the City Council a bad grade not because of what it's doing, but because of what it's failing to do (i.e. provide a counter-balance to the mayor).
Isn't this what a commenter said not too long ago?

Forgot to say this poll was commissioned by the SEIU, a union that is considered a Daley foe.

At City Hall, this reporter can't be beat

A column from the Sun-Times' Mark Brown about prolific City Hall reporter Fran Spielman.

Englewood pride!

Sun-Times:
CONGRATULATIONS TO the Bulls' new superstar Derrick Rose, who was just named the NBA Rookie of the Year. Rose grew up in the Englewood community (so did this columnist) on the South Side. Rep. Bobby Rush, whose 1st Congressional District includes Englewood, sent a letter of congrats to Rose that said: "As a native son of Englewood, know that we are all proud of you. On behalf of your lst Congressional District family, I encourage you to continue to let your star shine on and off the court. Your remarkable accomplishments serve as a prime example of what can happen with a made up mind -- and therefore, I hereby crown you 'The Fresh Prince of Englewood.' "

This columnist reached out to Derrick and got this response: "It was great to receive a letter from Cong. Rush congratulating me on my Rookie of the Year honor. It feels great to have the support of the Englewood community. I'm proud to represent my city every time I'm on the court."
The 6th represents a piece of Englewood and Bobby Rush represents part of the 6th. It's also great to know that some professional basketball talent grew up nearby.

Via CapFax morning shorts!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Will the city council allow for Chicago's 2nd Wal-Mart?

Sun-Times:
Whether the city should allow Wal-Mart to expand its presence here - a political donnybrook that gave birth to the big-box minimum wage ordinance that was snuffed out by Mayor Daley's only veto - is back before the City Council.

As promised, Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) introduced an amended redevelopment agreement at Wednesday's Council meeting that would allow Wal-Mart to build its second Chicago store - and first "supercenter'' that sells groceries - at a former Chatham industrial site at 83rd and Stewart.

Brookins said his hand was forced by the Daley administration.

Last year, then-Planning and Development Commissioner Arnold Randall rejected a request for administrative approval to build a 150,000 square-foot Wal-Mart supercenter on the site of the old Ryerson Steel plant at 83rd and Stewart. The developer responded by putting the property up for sale.

Brookins' proposal would strip the commissioner of the power to veto stores over 100,000 square feet.

"I'm doing it because I can't get any other movement any way else," he said.
A very bold move by Ald. Brookins. The next question will have to be will it pass? I'm very sure there are forces out there that want to see its defeat big time.

City Council Unanimously Backs TIF Transparency

Progress Illinois heralds this great news.

You could've seen the vote today via the Chicago City Clerk website. Unfortunately I couldn't continue watching the stream.

I dope hope there will be other articles on this subject.

UPDATE 7:13 PM Clout City talks about TIF transparency:
A month ago it appeared to be dead, but today the TIF Sunshine Ordinance passed the full City Council by a 48-0 vote. Several aldermen declared that it would help make city government more transparent. Several others predicted it would help the city show taxpayers how effective the TIF program is.

As the economy keeps foundering, expect to hear this line plenty from aldermen and city officials under pressure to find money to pay for basic city services.

Detailed information showing how city officials are using hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars is now supposed to be easily accessible online by the end of July, which should help members of the public trying to make their own decisions about the value of the program.

It might even help aldermen figure out what they're voting on when they're asked to approve or watch over TIF deals.

"I have five TIFs in my ward and I have lots of questions and lots of concerns," said 24th Ward alderman Sharon Dixon. "This will help me understand."
Check out the comments. The very first comment rips into Ald. Lyle. She's mentioned in this post with regards to the vote on minority set-asides for the Olypics and article on that you from the Sun-Times will see below.

Other stories regarding the City Council:

City Council slams criticism, OKs 40% minority set-aside for Olympics contracts - Sun-Times
Firing back at retired Illinois Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago), the City Council agreed Wednesday to give minorities and women a 40 percent share of the gravy train of contracts that could be generated by 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Chicago.

Jones told the Chicago Defender this week that the agreement aldermen negotiated was a “slap in the face” that would leave minorities with “crumbs” and blacks with the “short end of the stick.”

“If this is the best they can do, they are poor negotiators,” the Defender quoted Jones as saying. Jones said he was disappointed that those “who claim to have the best interest of the community at heart would be so callous as to agree to crumbs and would essentially sell our community down the river.”

The aldermen were livid— especially after persuading Chicago 2016 to up the ante on construction set-asides by an extra 5 percent apiece for blacks and women —from 25 percent and 5 percent respectively to 30 percent and 10 percent.

“We said if it can’t be done, guess what? You’re not gonna get it voted on. We all stood together,” said Ald. Walter Burnett (27th), referring to last month’s Finance Committee vote.
Aldermen now want hearings on meter lease - Clout St
Less than five months after they approved the deal in short order, aldermen now are calling for City Council hearings to examine the controversial long-term lease of Chicago's 36,000 parking meters to a private company.

Aldermen voted 40-5 to approve the $1.2 billion, 75-year lease with LAZ Parking late last year to help balance Mayor Richard Daley's budget.

Today's measure, sponsored by Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), alleged that LAZ has not hired minority subcontractors, as required under the agreement. Hairston said she has learned that city officials gave the company a waiver from the requirements.

The resolution also accuses the company of "cheating citizens out of parking minutes as advertised on their parking meters."
UPDATE 8:19 PM Aldermen push own biz-friendly stimulus plan - Greg Hinz
A group of Chicago aldermen, most from lakefront wards, are pushing an economic stimulus plan to help business by cutting taxes and other hassles.

In a package of proposed ordinances introduced Wednesday, restaurateur and Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) and others called for phasing out the city's $4-a-month employee head tax and streamlining the process of getting city licenses and permits.

The group also proposed boosting the Loop theater district by eliminating the city's parking tax on weekends and called for a banon any hike in parking-meter fees until it's possible to pay with plastic, instead of rolls of quarters.

The proposals, which were sent to committee for a hearing, were devised in consultation with the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

“Doing business in Chicago is both costly and burdensome," said Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jerry Roper. “These measures will help local businesses recover from the economic downturn more quickly and spur job creation.”

Minority aldermanic longevity

Russ Stewart:
There is a correlation between color and clout in Chicago’s 50-member city council. There are 23 white, 19 black, and eight Hispanic aldermen.

But it’s a matter of longevity, not race. In minority wards, political volatility prevails. Black and Hispanic aldermen serve a term or two, and lose. In white wards, permanency is the norm. White aldermen become entrenched and unbeatable by securing key committee chairmanships, controlling staff jobs, and raising substantial campaign cash from the interests that they regulate.

Chicago’s white aldermen have a combined tenure of service, through 2009, of 422 years, each averaging 18.3 years, or 4.6 terms.  The black aldermen have a combined tenure of 155 years, averaging 8.2 years, or 2.1 terms.  And the Hispanic aldermen have a combined tenure of 90 years, averaging 11.25 years, or 2.8 terms.

The chairmen of most key committees are white: Ed Burke (14th), with 40 years’ service, at Finance; Dick Mell (33rd), with 34 years, at Rules; Bill Banks (36th), with 26 years, at Zoning; Pat Levar (45th), with 22 years, at Aviation; Pat O’Connor (40th), with 26 years, at Education; Gene Schulter (47th), with 34 years, at License; Berny Stone (50th), with 36 years, at Building; Tom Allen (38th), with 16 years, at Transportation; and Marge Laurino (39th), with 15 years, at Economic and Technology.
He goes on and discusses which northside white Aldermen are likely to retire or lose their bids when 2011 rolls around. I just thought the first two paragraph of this four paragraph excerpt was interesting.

Also check out his video on the clout between white and minority aldermen courtesy of ChicagoClout

Chicago State faculty wants trustees removed

Sun-Times:
In an unprecedented action, the Chicago State University faculty senate today plans to ask Gov. Quinn to remove the school's trustees and bar them from appointing a new president.

At a meeting Tuesday, the faculty voted to deliver Quinn a letter stating they have "lost confidence in the ability and motives of the Board of Trustees, and no longer trust their ability to fulfill their responsibilities.''

The faculty vote comes after a wave of protests over the board's decision to appoint one of two finalists as president: Wayne Watson, chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago, or Carol Adams, secretary of the state Human Services Department. Some students and others have criticized the finalists as political insiders who ignited controversy in their current posts.

The faculty called the search process "severely flawed'' and said the candidates were "unqualified.'' But the letter also complained about "the deterioration of the physical plant, the institutional reputation, employee morale and student enrollment'' at CSU and expressed fear about the university's long-term health.

Stroger blames scandal on racial politics

WLS-TV:
But President Stroger says now that Dunnings and Cole no longer work for the county, his critics on the county should stop using the issue for political purposes that Stroger says have racial overtones.

"This has always been North Side versus the South and West Side," said Stroger.

When one does not have a serious defense to a serious charge you go and make it racial or make it so outrageous you are trying to demean the people who are asking legitimate questions," said Suffredin.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Did this blog seem like a crime blotter to you?

At least over the weekend as I made sure to blog about any incidents that made it to the media regarding the shooting incidents that took place in the ward. That wasn't the intent at all, but I definitely wanted to be sure that I could get everything I could of these incidents then any other shootings that occurred. The shooting at 79th & King as it turned out was only the beginning.

If you want to sound off about it you're more than welcome via e-mail or in the comments. Especially if you have a criticism, besides that's what this blog is here for. Interaction and feedback mainly and what I did see as far as feedback I really liked and I hope that if do find myself posting any stories of crimes on this blog we'll still see the comments such as the ones I saw over the weekend.

The main thing in this situation is that we have to find ways to make our community safer. The goal being of course is that no one will just come to our neighborhood and commit any crime whatsoever.

In any event this blog doesn't strive to be merely a crime blotter, but certainly as a means to alert you on any incidents that may happen in addition to tips that may keep you, family/neighbors/friends and your property safe. Let's continue to dialog, because like I said that's what this blog is for. I thank those who commented for their thoughts over the weekend.

Once high-flying Triple J is losing altitude

Laura Washington talks about the rise and seeming fall from power of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

Rally planned at CSU as anger grows over search for president

Location: Chicago State University, Chicago, IL, USA
Chi-Town Daily News:
Students and faculty at Chicago State University are planning a rally tomorrow afternoon against the school’s presidential search process. And petitions are circulating to ask Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn to remove the current Board of Trustees and appoint an entirely new board.

The actions come following a closed-door meeting Friday in which 13 of the 15 members of a campus advisory committee resigned and walked out of the meeting in protest of what they described as a flawed search process.

Last week Wayne Watson, the chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago, and Carol Adams, the secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services, each spent a day at CSU answering questions from students, faculty and staff in sessions that sometimes turned contentious and argumentative.

“They’re going to keep struggling against this,” says sociology professor Pancho McFarland. “Nobody is happy at all with what’s going on.”

And today the University Professionals of Illinois, which represents faculty at colleges across the state, issued a statement supporting CSU's faculty. The statement read in part, " It is our collective belief that flawed searches lead to flawed candidates, which in turn produce flawed leadership."

Students and faculty oppose the candidates for a variety reasons, including their status as political insiders and their lack of scholarly writing. Adams is an appointee of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Watson is a longtime adminstrator who was backed by Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Drama at our friendly neighborhood university!

Carol Marin interviews Todd Stroger

He seems very eager to cut this interview off as it does go into some controversial territory such as the firing of Donna Dunnings, why she was fired, and even the large numbers of county hires in the 8th Ward. I'm not sure Todd Stroger came off very well in this interview. He seems very defensive in this piece!

You can also watch this piece at the Chicago Tonight site.

PS: Carol Marin mentions this blog, Todd Stroger Blog. She quotes essentially the subtitle of the blog:
I am taking on the biggest challenge of my life, and enjoying every minute of it. I'm taking on the challenge to make Cook County the best County ever.
So, I used to think this was some type of prank, now I'm starting to think that really is his blog!

Midway meltdown bad news for Daley

Greg Hinz:
However City Hall tries to spin it, the collapse of the $2.52-billion deal to privatize operation of Midway Airport is a blow to the way Mayor Richard M. Daley has financed his government in recent years.

   City Chief Financial Officer Eugene Saffold on Monday blamed the meltdown on "unprecedented" turbulence in the financial markets, turbulence that made it impossible for a consortium headed by a unit of CitiGroup to obtain financing by an early-April deadline.

   Mr. Saffold termed that "a temporary setback" and "a little speed bump," strongly suggesting that the city would rebid the deal when more normal times return.  In the meantime, the city will keep $126 million in earnest money that Citi put up, using much of the funds to fill holes in the 2008 and 2009 operational budget.

   Much of that's true, particularly the part about financial turbulence. But the bigger truth is, the city is out more than $2 billion, money that would have gone to retire debt, replenish way-underfunded employee pension funds, pay for capital projects for the 2016 Olympics, and other needs.

   It's gone. Adios. Au revoir. The $1 billion or so the city would have netted after retiring existing debt on Midway ain't here no more.
This has been big news as of late!