Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Another aspect of Brookins' big box measure

Sun-Times:
It happened when Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), business and community leaders turned up the heat on aldermen to give Wal-Mart the go-ahead to build its second Chicago store -- and first super-center that sells groceries -- at a former Chatham industrial site at 83rd and Stewart.

It happened when Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), business and community leaders turned up the heat on aldermen to give Wal-Mart the go-ahead to build its second Chicago store -- and first super-center that sells groceries -- at a former Chatham industrial site at 83rd and Stewart.

With the city facing a $300 million budget shortfall and unemployment among African Americans topping 20 percent, Brookins said it makes no sense to block a $64 million project that would create 600 full- and part-time jobs.

Daley has said Brookins' request "is not gonna fly" because Wal-Mart backers "don't have enough votes." The mayor is reluctant to pick a fight with organized labor before the International Olympic Committee's Oct. 2 vote on a host city for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
...
Brookins' ammended redevelopment agreement would strip the commissioner of the power to veto stores over 100,000 sq.ft. That would pave the way for construction to begin.
...
Brookins' decision to put the City Council back on the hot seat with labor unions doing battle with Wal-Mart over wages and benefits did not sit well with some of his colleagues.

"This is a nightmare for all of us. It re-opens old wounds," Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), a candidate for Cook County Board president against incumbent Todd Stroger, told the Sun-Times recently.
You can also check out this report that aired at 10PM this evening on FOX Chicago regarding Ald. Brookins' renewed push to bring Wal-Mart to his ward.
Here's more from Crain's:
A city rules committee deferred a vote on an amendment to the Chatham Market shopping center development agreement that would repeal a clause aimed at keeping out Wal-Mart.

Alderman Howard Brookins Jr. (21st), who’s been fighting for a store in his ward since 2004 and introduced the proposal in April, says the committee is expected to vote on the amendment in July.

Also, he says he’s near the 26 votes needed to pass the measure once it gets before the City Council.

“It’s not a given, but it is close,” Mr. Brookins said. “Everyone sees how dire the economic situation is now. The ongoing delay would postpone when the store will be open and . . . able to put people to work.”

A Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokesman says the company is "cautiously optimistic" about getting city council's approval to open a second store.
Aldermen are unwilling to engage in the battle over the big-box ordinance and Daley wants organized labor's support for the Olympics. Well we should already know that there is some gritty fighting coming on this issue.

Chicago's Wal-Mart battle heats up

From today's Chicago Tribune,
In the latest bid to bring a second Wal-Mart store to the city, Ald. Howard B. Brookins Jr. (21st) made a public plea to fellow aldermen to vote to allow Wal-Mart to build a supercenter on the South Side.

"I'm asking my other colleagues to get on board," Brookins said at a press conference at City Hall this morning before the start of the City Council meeting.

Brookins cited rising unemployment and the city's budget shortfall as reasons to let Wal-Mart open in his ward, adding, "We need jobs, plain and simple."

The alderman has been fighting for five years to bring a Wal-Mart to a former steel manufacturing site, now called Chatham Market. In April, he reignited the battle by introducing an amendment to the Chatham Market shopping center development agreement that would repeal a clause aimed at keeping out Wal-Mart.

Brookins had hoped the amendment, now in the Rules Committee, would be up for a vote Tuesday. It was deferred.

Wal-Mart wants to build a supercenter, which also would sell groceries, on the site. The unions have blocked the world's largest retailer from building there. Wal-Mart opened its first city store in Austin in September 2006.

In an interview after the press conference, Brookins said he is "close" to having the 26 votes necessary for the proposal to pass.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Chamber of Commerce is lobbying aldermen on the fence by presenting results of a poll of 11 wards. The poll, which the chamber has yet to disclose publicly, found that residents are "overwhelmingly" in favor of Wal-Mart opening another city store, said Jerry Roper, president and CEO of the chamber.

The unions, for their part, have threatened to resurrect the big-box ordinance, which sets minimum wages and benefits, if the City Council approves the Wal-Mart store. Such a fight could taint the city's bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics as the Oct. 2 deadline to select the winning city approaches.
Any thoughts from you? What businesses would you like to see at Chatham Market, either in addition to or instead of Wal-Mart?

Chicago public-school reform flops, biz-backed report says

Greg Hinz:
Chicago Public School reform largely has failed, with the vast bulk of students either dropping out or unprepared for college and apparent gains at the grade-school level more perceived than real.

That's the bottom line of a blockbuster report released Tuesday by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, a report that directly challenges the legitimacy of one of Mayor Richard M. Daley's major claimed accomplishments.

Titled "Still Left Behind," the report freely uses terms like "abysmal" to describe the true state of public education in Chicago. The report was prepared by committee President R. Eden Martin, a lawyer, with analytical support from Paul Zavitkovsky of the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Half of the students drop out by high school, and of those who remain until 11th grade, 70% fail to meet state standards, the report says. In fact, "In the regular (non-magnet) neighborhood high schools, which serve the vast preponderance of students, almost no students are prepared to succeed in college."

The report directly challenges widespread claims by current and former CPS officials that local students have shown substantial progress over the last decade on standardized tests.
You can read the full report here. You'll need Adobe Acrobat!

Ald. Lyle on the ban of cell phone use while driving

A little background:
Chicago's law forbidding cell phone use while driving is supposed to get people behind the wheel to hang up and drive. But breaking that law doesn't result in a ticket very often.
...
Chicago banned driving while using a cell phone without a hands-free device in 2005. But drivers don't appear to be hanging up.

In 2006, Chicago police handed out just more than 13,000 tickets to drivers talking on the cell phone. That number went up to more than 17,000 in 2007. In 2008, it dropped to just more than 10,000 tickets. That means in 2008, of the estimated one 1.3 million drivers on the road in Chicago every day, Chicago police only ticketed an average of 28 of them per day for driving while talking on the phone.
Here's more from the Alderman:
"You want to look at these numbers and say, oh it's working, but that's not true, because I see people out here all the time driving with cell phones," said Alderman Freddrenna Lyle.

ABC7 took our findings to Alderman Freddrenna Lyle. She's on the city council committee that created the ban and says both drivers and the police need to take it seriously.

"Obviously there's some enforcement but it's not one of those high priorities," said Lyle. "But clearly, there's not a, a push to enforce it by the numbers that you've shown," said Lyle.
...
In May of 2008, the city changed the type of ticket drivers get when the only reason they're pulled over is driving while they're on the phone without any other infraction. But between the change and the end of the year -- nearly 75 percent of these new tickets -- were dismissed by the court.

"This is kind of surprising," said Lyle. "We want people to take it seriously, that's why we imposed it, it's not just trying to come up with stuff to irritate the citizen, we want people to be safe."
Hey get this!
Court officials say they threw out many of the violations because officers just wrote "cell phone use" on the ticket without mentioning driving or if they were using a hands free device.
...
The city says after so many tickets were thrown out last year officers were retrained on how to write the new type of cell phone ticket. So far it looks like it's making them stick. Drivers have been found liable for nearly 89 percent of the 3,300 administrative tickets ruled on since the beginning of the year.
You know I never understood those people who need to be on the phone whether on the L, and talking a whole of smack loudly with no consideration of their fellow passengers or driving behind the wheel chatting on a phone. I don't believe it's illegal to be on the phone if you were on a handsfree headset. Why can't drivers use such sets? Aren't bluetooth headsets still popular?

Judge: I'm tired of crooked cops in Chicago

Sun-Times:
An ex-Chicago cop was sentenced today to almost 11 years in prison for robbing drug dealers — a case that prompted the judge to declare he’s tired of the growing pace of wrongdoing by police officers.

“In this city, it seems to me we are bombarded by stories and cases and prosecutions of police misconduct,” said U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman, who imposed the sentence on Richard Doroniuk. “It’s been accelerating . . . It’s very discouraging.”

Last week, Chicago cop Anthony Abbate was sentenced to 18 months probation by a Cook County judge for pummeling a much smaller female bartender while he was drunk, in a caught-on-video beating that drew national attention.

Earlier this month, ex-Chicago cop William Cozzi was sentenced in federal court to three years in prison for the 2005 videotaped beating of a 60-year-old man who was handcuffed and shackled to a wheelchair.
I was so hoping that this was referring to a Cook County judge who seem to get a bum rap at times. Instead it's a federal judge!

Via Newsalert!

Students brace for the worst as cuts to state grants loom

Chi-Town:
The news that state officials have drastically cut financial aid for the coming school year has some college students thinking about taking on extra jobs to pay their tuition bills, while others say they may have to drop out.

Last week, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission cut Monetary Award Program grants to about 137,000 students in the state by more than half.

The big cut means students will get about 85 percent of their promised aid for the fall term. They will receive no aid at all in the spring unless the state legislature passes a budget with greater funding for the grant program.

Damian Wolak, the undergraduate student body president at the University of Illinois at Chicago, says he’s been the first person to tell many of his peers about the looming cuts.

“They feel as if the MAP grant is like an entitlement, that they got their letters in the mail and they think everything is coming and everything is well,” Wolak says.

But in fact, the 6,200 students at UIC slated to get the state grants this coming year will collectively receive just $10.2 million under the current state budget. That compares with $24.5 million in state funds handed out to a similar number of UIC students last year. For individual UIC students, the average grant would drop from $4,000 to about $1,600 for the year.
Anyone out there affected by these cuts as they seeks to attain their degrees?

Illinois is the worse state for black nursing home care

Chicago Reporter:
An investigation by The Chicago Reporter found that Illinois is arguably the worst state in the nation for black senior citizens seeking quality nursing home care. There is just one home in Illinois rated “excellent” by the federal government when more than 50 percent of the home’s residents are black. In Illinois, these facilities get the worst federal ratings and on average have more violations than facilities where a majority of residents are white. And in Chicago, on average, these homes have more medical malpractice and personal injury lawsuits. People in white homes got better care than those in black homes, even if both were poor.

The Reporter also found that the staff at Illinois’ black nursing homes spent less time daily with residents than staff at facilities where a majority of the residents are white. Of that time, black residents got a smaller percentage of time with more-skilled registered nurses than facilities where the residents were white.

“It is a real big disgrace and another black eye for the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago,” said state Rep. Monique Davis. “It’s almost like being in Mississippi in 1920.”

A facility can lose its certification and Medicaid funding for failing to meet federal standards. But the Reporter investigation found that it rarely happens and has occurred with just five of the nearly 16,000 Medicaid-certified U.S. facilities in the past year.
This is an article worth your time. The 6th and many areas of the south side have nursing homes. Check em out and see if they may be serving those elderly people in your family.

Via CapFax morning shorts!

Chicago Alderman Tries to Cap Olympic Spending

CPR:
Today's the first Chicago City Council meeting since the mayor's controversial announcement about funding the 2016 Olympics.
...
Today, Ald. Manny Flores is expected to introduce an ordinance capping the taxpayers' contribution at that amount. The ordinance would block the mayor or anyone else from providing guarantees for more money, without an OK from City Council.

State minimum wage going up a quarter

Sun-Times:
Many workers will see a bit more in their paychecks when Illinois' minimum wage rises 25 cents an hour to $8 an hour Wednesday -- the second of a three-phase increase that will reach $8.25 July 1, 2010.

It means $520 a year more for a full-time minimum-wage earner. The Illinois Retail Merchants Association says it will cost employers, on average, an additional 30 cents an hour, for a total of $8.90. That's because the employer must pay benefits based on a percentage of the wage, so costs rise for Social Security, Medicare, workers' compensation and insurance, for example, said IRMA spokesman Peter Gill.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Daley to introduce ordinance to renew city's set-aside program

Sun-Times:
Despite the election of a black president and a seemingly endless string of stories about minority business fraud, Chicago's construction set-aside ordinance must continue, City Hall has concluded.

At Tuesday's City Council meeting, Mayor Daley is expected to introduce an ordinance setting the stage for Chicago to renew a five-year-old program that has earmarked 24 percent of construction contracts for companies owned by minorities and four percent for firms controlled by women.

In 1996, the Builders Association of Greater Chicago filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the city's landmark minority set-aside program.

It didn't work. A federal judge provided a road map to salvage the ordinance and City Hall followed it to the letter. Chicago's set-aside program was saved, bucking a national trend.

But, there's a catch. The revised ordinance included a five-year sunset provision, with an expiration date of Dec. 31, 2009.
Question: Do we still need set-asides for minority contractors in the City of Chicago?

Daley replaces his Streets and Sanitation boss

Tribune:
Mayor Richard Daley today demoted his Streets and Sanitation commissioner and replaced him with a troubleshooter from another department.

Michael Picardi will return to his old job running the Fleet Management department after rising through the City Hall ranks to become Streets and Sanitation boss in 2005.

Picardi will be replaced by Thomas Byrne, the city's transportation commissioner. Byrne, a former deputy police commissioner, said he "welcomes the challenge."
...
Picardi's high-profile department was the subject of criticism in two key areas in 2008 -- garbage pick-up and snow removal.

In a Daley administration effort to reduce overtime pay, city crews in early December 2008 waited until regular working hours before plowing side streets following a snowfall, leading to treacherous road conditions that had residents and aldermen furious. Picardi reversed course on the snow plowing following the controversy.

In October, the city inspector general reported that investigators who secretly watched city garbage truck crews spied workers loafing for hours each day, taking long lunches at home, drinking beer from plastic cups and even urinating on the street. The report also faulted the Streets and Sanitation department for failure to properly oversee the crews.

Chicago applying for grants to hire 400 new police officers

Sun-Times:
Chicago is applying for $106 million in federal-stimulus grants to hire 400 new police officers, even though there’s a costly string attached: When the three-year grants expire, the officers must remain on the city payroll for at least another year.

Mayor Daley is poised to lay off 1,504 city employees to help erase a threatened $300 million year-end shortfall unless union leaders agree to another painful round of cost-cutting concessions by July 15.
...
Daley’s 2009 budget slowed police hiring to a crawl — with only 200 officers expected to be hired throughout the year.

But, Police Superintendent Jody Weis recently acknowledged that City Hall hasn’t even kept up with that snail’s pace.

Only one class comprised of 45 officers has entered the police academy for six months of training. No more classes have been scheduled.

As a result, the Chicago Police Department is more than 600 officers below its authorized strength.

And if Daley proceeds with the 1,504 layoffs, 296 civilian police employees will lose their jobs as crossing guards, detention aides and traffic control aides, forcing uniformed police officers to do jobs that have nothing to do with fighting crime

Taste of Chicago Plays Role in Selling Olympics

CPR:
Chicago's Olympic committee is boosting its efforts to sell the 2016 Games.

The crowds at Taste of Chicago can meet Olympic athletes and see what the Games would look like here. Valerie Waller is with Chicago 2016.

WALLER: We're just looking to make sure we have the opportunity to touch as many of the citizens of Chicago as possible, and talk about the bid, answer questions they might have and let them show their support for Chicago bringing the games here.

Cheryle Jackson to form Senate exploratory panel

Greg Hinz:
Chicago Urban League chief Cheryle Jackson is forming a U.S. Senate exploratory committee -- the last formal step before actually announcing her candidacy.

In a phone interview, Ms. Jackson said paperwork for the exploratory panel will be filed later this week and she intends to declare her race for President Barack Obama's old Senate race "within a couple of months."

"I'm moving forward," said Ms. Jackson, 44, who served as press secretary to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich before becoming president and chief executive officer of the Urban League of Chicago almost three years ago.
Entering a race that may contain Sen. Burris, David Kennedy (owner of the Merchandise Mart and scion of the Kennedy Family son of RFK), Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias,  or even Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

BTW, another piece of news from this piece:
Ms. Jackson's group will host the convention of the national Urban League at the end of the month -- the first time it has done so in 30 years, she said.

CPS schools lose half of teachers in 5 years

Sun-Times:
The typical Chicago public school loses more than half of all its teachers within five years -- and about two-thirds of its new ones, a study released today by the University of Chicago indicates.

Teacher churning is especially severe in high-poverty, heavily African-American schools -- about a hundred total -- where half of all teachers disappear after only three years, the study found.

"I find that really disturbing,'' said Elaine Allensworth, lead author of the study from the U. of C.'s Consortium on Chicago School Research. "I just see no way they can improve if they can't maintain a stable work force.''

The consortium's analysis of teachers who worked for Chicago Public Schools from the fall of 2002 to spring 2007 also raises a warning flag about Mayor Daley's Renaissance 2010 push to replace troubled schools with up to 100 new ones, many of them small.
Usually when I excerpt from articles I like to start with the introduction and find any other pertinent information. This morning I will post the introduction to a similar article from the Tribune:
A cornerstone of student achievement is school stability, a goal that includes keeping consistent teaching staff that collaborates and offers students a steady learning experience whether in elementary or high school.

But a new report shows about 100 Chicago schools lose more than a quarter of their staff every year, crippling efforts to create an effective learning environment for children in largely African-American schools.

The study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago highlights a national concern over how to keep good teachers in tough environments.
Also noted in the Tribune:
The study, which was released Monday, reviewed personnel records from 35,000 public school teachers in 538 elementary schools and 118 high schools over a five-year period from the 2002-03 to 2006-07 school years. No charter schools were included in the study.
I go back to the Sun-Times to excerpt some of the findings:
Smaller schools suffered higher teacher turnover than bigger ones, perhaps because "small schools put enormous demands on teachers and can potentially 'burn out' even the most enthusiastic new teacher,'' the study warned.

One "troubling" finding, according to the report, was that CPS teachers who leave low-scoring elementary schools tend to wind up in other low-scoring elementary schools.

Teachers who left low-scoring high schools, meanwhile, often traded up to better-scoring CPS schools, the study found.

A new recent trend is that teachers are more likely to leave CPS than to transfer inside it, the study said.
Back to the Tribune:
On the whole, more than half of the Chicago Public Schools teachers whose records were reviewed left their schools within five years, a figure consistent with the state and the rest of the nation. But in high schools where teachers show particularly low morale, 76 percent of teachers left within that time frame, the study shows.
Sun-Times provides one example of that at least:
Although Chicago's Clemente High had its share of fights and gangs, that wasn't why teacher Dana Limberg left last year for Oak Park-River Forest High School. Limberg was disappointed in her principal's leadership -- another factor the consortium tied to teacher turnover.

Many teachers felt a new small-school program "was making a dramatic improvement and he didn't seem to respect it,'' Limberg said. Plus, she said, teachers suddenly had less input -- another turnover trigger.
Of course it may not totally be a problem, both articles may indicate that the turnover is necessary especially if teaching may not be a good fit or to weed out bad teachers or indeed to resolve staffing conflicts.

This is another aspect of this study:
One teacher who spent her first two years at two high-poverty, heavily black, West Side elementary schools said she struggled with kids who picked up chairs, who screamed in class and threw crayons, who didn't know how to deal with anger -- and parents who didn't return phone calls. She is looking for another job.
Another issue, teachers dealing with issues beyond the scope of what they're hired to do. Probably more frustrating because the parents don't seem to be that engaged. I would like to get my hands on this study!

Did you know you're keeping us from the Chicago Tribune?

Let me explain the subject of this blog entry:

Glenn Jeffers, a freelance writer for the Chicago Tribune, wants to write a story on this very blog.

However, what's holding him back is, quite simply, you.

Or more specifically, he needs comments from neighbors like you.  He needs to show that this blog isn't simply one of a million blogs read by a handful of people.  Rather, by your comments, you can show Chicago & beyond the value of this blog to the South Side, especially Chatham, Park Manor, Englewood -- everywhere in the 6th & beyond.

If you are interested in sharing your experiences with this blog, then simply send us an e-mail with your contact information to thesixthward(at)1chicago.net

Or if you follow us on Twitter, communicate with us that way!

We'll pass it on to Glenn.  (We want to filter out the spammers...sorry guys!)

Thanks for your participation!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Taxpayers last to pay if Olympics loses cash: Daley

Very interesting:
Mayor Daley said Saturday he wants a deal in which private insurance money would be tapped before public money if an Olympic Games in Chicago suffered any losses.

Daley previously had said he wanted a provision ensuring that $2.5 billion in public and private insurance and guarantees would be exhausted before taxpayers would be on the hook.

But that $2.5 billion already includes a $500 million guarantee against operating losses, approved by the City Council.

Now Daley is saying that the city's portion of the $2.5 billion should be the last to be tapped.

Speaking at a library dedication, the mayor also said Saturday that the insurance policy may need to be larger -- perhaps $3.5 billion.
It seems the Tribune is calling Daley's statements on financing the Olympics a flip-flop:
But on Friday, Daley offered muddled and conflicting versions of his pledge to sign the standard Olympics contract in a bid to win the Games.

In a news release, Daley said he may have "spoke too quickly" when he agreed in Switzerland to give an unlimited financial guarantee.

Pressed by reporters, Daley then seemed to suggest he hadn't made a blanket guarantee: "I just said I will sign an agreement, I didn't say which one." He added the city still planned to amend the Olympics contract to ease Chicago's liability.

But that is markedly different from Daley's remarks immediately after emerging from his June 17 meeting with the IOC, when he told the Tribune he had just agreed to sign the host city contract "as is." Daley's account was confirmed by IOC President Jacques Rogge.

"The mayor said he will sign the host city contract. We have only one host city contract," Rogge said last week. "There is no amendment to the host city contract whatsoever from the IOC."

The contract puts full responsibility for potential financial losses squarely on the host city, and for months Daley and the bid team pledged not to sign the contract, which could put taxpayers on the hook if there are cost overruns beyond the $750 million level the city and state already have agreed to cover. They secretly reversed course in the weeks before the critical Switzerland meeting after Olympics officials said they expected the contract to be signed without modifications.
This is starting to look like a mess.

Perhaps in the future I can offer my thoughts on the Olympics. I'm largely an agnostic on this or I should say neutral on whether or not Chicago should host the 2016 summer games. I'll very much expand on that soon!

2 of 4 Chicago's dangerous blocks

Syron Smith in this video interviews people and observes two of the four most dangerous city blocks. Essentially it seems that he wants to disprove that assertion. He also claims that old data was used in that report to claim that these blocks are dangerous.

BTW, this is only part one but in this one, we see 66th & Yale, a block that is contained in the ward. When part two is posted I will be sure to post that as well.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Three block parties in Chatham

Three block party notices for today on EveryBlock.

400-431 E 78TH ST Block party on June 27
Posted to the City of Chicago Web site on June 27, 2009.

432-499 E 78TH ST Block party on June 27
Posted to the City of Chicago Web site on June 27, 2009.

7800-7860 S INDIANA AV Block party on June 27
Posted to the City of Chicago Web site on June 27, 2009.

If you are planning a block party in the future or any other events please send an e-mail. Thanks.

So Ald. Lyle did appear on Public Affairs once

Unfortunately there may not be any footage available, resources such as YouTube didn't exist back in 2004 and I first discovered PublicAffairs with Jeff Berkowitz thru their streaming page and they only go as far back as October 2005. Of course I don't remember when I found the streaming page, but I've been watching the show ever since. Although as of late I often watch the program on YouTube.

Anyway she appeared on Public Affairs taped on April 5th but aired on June 21, 2004 in a debate with Ald. Howard Brookins (our neighbor to the west in the 21st Ward) over whether or not a Wal-Mart should be allowed in the 21st. This excerpt is from the Public Affairs blog:
Berkowitz: So, can 2000- 3000 municipalities be wrong? Are these places wrong that have Wal-Mart? One of the largest companies in this country is wrong? Would you say that IBM was wrong? Microsoft was wrong? Are all of these companies wrong?

Ald. Lyle: Wal-Mart is definitely wrong. I will say that. And, municipalities also have done impact studies on Wal-Mart before they let them in. There is a whole slew of regulations and ordinances and big box ordinances that have been spurned as a result of Wal-Marts coming in. There have at least four studies in terms of the impact on small business and that is my concern. And all of those studies—

Berkowitz: Ald. Brookins?

Ald. Brookins: And I understand her concern. I really do. But, to say and draw this imaginary line when Wal-Mart--- I would argue that Wal-Mart already is in the City of Chicago. At Bedford Park, they are literally right across the street.
...
Berkowitz: Businesses are not being put out of business?

Brookins: We would need to talk to Ald. Murphy, but that is not one of the things that he has said—that the Wal-Mart across the street from his ward has driven all of the businesses out of business. The other thing that I would like to say is that I don’t believe it is just Wal-Mart. I believe that it is big box retail, in general. Big Box retail would have the ability to—
...
Berkowitz: Businesses are not being put out of business?

Brookins: We would need to talk to Ald. Murphy, but that is not one of the things that he has said—that the Wal-Mart across the street from his ward has driven all of the businesses out of business. The other thing that I would like to say is that I don’t believe it is just Wal-Mart. I believe that it is big box retail, in general. Big Box retail would have the ability to—
...
Berkowitz: Are they going to give Ald. Lyle a call(?). Ald. Lyle, you would give them a chance?

Lyle: They came in to talk to Ald. Brookins. He invited me to the meeting.

Berkowitz: Do you have an open mind. Could you become persuaded that this is beneficial to his Ward and to your Ward?

Lyle: I have an open mind. I need to see (A) How many stores are they going to put in the City in terms of squeezing businesses. They are putting two on the South Side: One on 83rd and Stewart and one on 95th and Western. And that is real close to me. So, we need to talk.
...
Berkowitz: You just want them to tell you?

Lyle: I would love to find out that they are going to do living wage.

Berkowitz: $10.00 or $11.00 per hour sounds like a living wage, doesn’t’ it.

Lyle: We need to see that.

Berkowitz: But, what about the people who want to work for $7.00 per hour; [Perhaps] it is their second job. [Or,] they are a teenager and it is their first job. You are pricing them out of the market. Is a person better off being unemployed at $11.00 per hour than employed at $6.00 per hour?

Lyle: But, that is not the issue.
I didn't post the full exchange but I got some of the relevant points. You should read more of this exchange and let me know what you got out of it!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Daley sows confusion on his Olympics guarantee

Clout Street:
The mayor, back in Chicago and addressing the issue locally for the first time today, seemed to contradict his own statements in Switzerland, as well as the public remarks of Chicago 2016 chief Pat Ryan and International Olympics Committee President Jacques Rogge.

“We agreed to sign a host city agreement with the provisions of the city, state and the insurance policy as added on to the host city agreement. That's what it's going to be and that is our protection for the taxpayers of the city of Chicago,” Daley said today with Lori Healey, Chicago 2016 president and the mayor’s former chief of staff, at his side.

But that version is markedly different from Daley’s remarks immediately after emerging from his June 17 meeting with the IOC, when he told the Tribune he had just agreed to sign the host city contract “as is.”

In a subsequent interview last week, the IOC's Rogge confirmed that Daley had agreed to sign the standard contract without modifications.

“The mayor said he will sign the host city contract.  We have only one host city contract,” Rogge said at the time. “There is no amendment to the host city contract whatsoever from the IOC.”
Click on the link and see the various faces of Mayor Daley at a press conference talking about the Olympic bid.

Teens charged in slaying of Englewood girl

Not happy that a couple of young black men are arrested, but glad that there are arrests in the shooting death of a girl aged 9 in Englewood:
A 17-year-old boy and a 19-year-old man were charged today in connection with a shooting that killed a 9-year-old Englewood girl and injured three other people, including her father, authorities said this afternoon.

Davionne Whitfield, 17, of the 7400 block of South Normal Avenue, was charged as an adult with first-degree murder in the slaying of Chastity Turner, said the Cook County state's attorney's office. Whitfield was also charged with three counts of aggravated battery with a firearm.

The 19-year-old charged in connection with the shooting was Gerald Lauderdale, also of the 7400 block of South Normal. He was charged with unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, Chicago police said.

Authorities could not release further information about the suspects this afternoon.

Half swine flu cases in state have been children

Tribune:
The state's rate of new case reports has slowed. But officials said Friday it's likely new cases will continue to be reported through the summer.

Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Kelly Jakubek says the new flu strain is acting differently than seasonal flu. It's affecting mostly younger people and continuing later in the year.

Seasonal flu is less likely to be reported during the summer because people aren't congregating indoors and children are out of school. Illinois had seen more than 2,500 cases of probable and confirmed cases as of June 19. Nearly 62 percent of those were in children and teenagers.

Dorothy Brown announces for county board president

Clout Street:
In her announcement, Brown said she “came out against the current sales-tax level passed by” the Cook County Board last year, when it upped that levy by a penny-on-the-dollar, touching off widespread criticism of Stroger. But before today, during nearly two years of debate on the sales-tax increase issue, Brown repeatedly declined to weigh in.

Brown made her announcement in a press release and planned to meet individually with reporters later in the day. First elected to her current post in 2000, she has twice been re-elected [to Cook County Circuit Court Clerk], but she was soundly defeated by Mayor Richard Daley when she sought his office in 2007.

Brown recently said she would stop accepting cash birthday gifts from employees after learning the Tribune was going to publish a story about the long-running practice in her administration.


Others mulling a run in next February’s primary are U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Sheriff Tom Dart, Assessor James Houlihan, Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin and Terence O’Brien, president of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.
Can anyone say WIDE open?

Even cops losing their jobs in recession

Daily Herald:
In Chicago, with a police force of about 13,000, the number of vacancies has climbed to more than 400 since January 2008 because the department is not hiring to keep up with the number of officers who leave. The city could be down 800 officers by the end of the year, said Mark Donahue, president of the police union.

The danger of one-person squad cars was seen last summer in Chicago when Officer Richard Francis, riding alone, responded to a disturbance involving a mentally ill woman. During a struggle, the woman allegedly grabbed Francis' gun and killed the 27-year veteran.

"On calls like the one he was responding to at the time, they are being put at risk in one-man cars," Donahue said.

Also, more cops are being attacked on the streets, and police say that is because they can no longer flood the scene with officers when they respond to a call. The number of incidents of battery against a police officer in Chicago rose from 2,677 to 3,158 between 2007 and 2008, according to department statistics.
All is not dire!
The cuts come as police departments are being asked to take on more responsibilities, such as investigating domestic terrorism, said John Firman, director of research for the police chiefs association.

There is some help on the way, in the form of federal stimulus money, but the need may far outstrip the aid. For example, the $1 billion that the Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services received to hire officers nationwide is less than one-eighth of the money agencies requested, said Fred Wilson, director of operations at the National Sheriffs' Association.

Olympics items

Hold the Mayor, City Council Accountable on Olympic Spending - Illinois Review (Tony Peraica)

Community Group Wants Oversight on Chicago 2016 Olympic Spending - CPR

Chicago aldermen demand Olympics money details after private meetings - Clout Street

All via CapFax morning shorts

The Urban Revolution

Jeb Brugmann wrote a book Welcome to the Urban Revolution. Asserts that building in Chicago actually starts in the neighborhoods. Also looks at the role of block clubs and community organizations.

Something that could be added to our libraries if deciding what direction to take our neighborhoods. What might the assertions made here in this vid or in Brugmann's book mean for our neighborhoods?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP Michael Jackson

Well I hate the fact that I can't embed "Billy Jean" from YouTube, but for your musical pleasure here it is! You can subscribe to the Michael Jackson channel here as well.

You can read the story about Michael Jackson's death from CBS2. If you want you can air out your feelings about Jackson here!

BTW, I forgot about his former hometown of nearby Gary, Indiana. Chicago Breaking News (Tribune) has a story about that city mourning the death of their hometown boy!

Videos from CBS2 from Gary, Indiana
UPDATE 9:03 PM Gateway Pundit on the death of Michael Jackson. Lauding the death of a legend!

UPDATE 10:25 PM Reason Hit & Run: Michael Jackson RIP "On the day of his death, I'll ignore the weirdness and enjoy the music." I heard that!

Burris didn't disclose Inland options: report

AP:
U.S. Sen. Roland Burris didn't disclose on a Senate financial statement that he has options to buy 8,000 shares of stock in Inland Real Estate Corp., according to a report.

Burris spokesman Jim O'Connor told the Chicago Tribune that the senator plans to amend his financial statement to reflect the unexercised options in Oak Brook-based Inland, a retail real estate investment trust.

Burris was on Inland's board from 1996 until January. He got $63,000 in director fees and dividends last year.
Here's some more detail from the Tribune:
U.S. Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) failed to reveal in a Senate financial disclosure statement that he has options to buy 8,000 shares of stock in a real estate investment company where he was a board member, according to public records.

The statement, recently made public, indicated Burris and his wife held $900,000 to $1.8 million in assets, but failed to note their options to buy stock in Oak Brook-based Inland Real Estate Corp.
...
Burris can buy the stock at prices ranging from $9 a share to about $20 a share, according to Inland's federal securities filings. The senator is unlikely to exercise those options any time soon -- Inland stock closed at $6.72 on Wednesday, below Burris' $9 option.
...
He got $63,000 in director fees and dividends from Inland last year.
Now they're just looking for stuff to use against him!

City Council aim to shield taxpayers from Olympic risks

Sun-Times:
The City Council is mapping plans to hire an independent insurance analyst at taxpayers’ expense to comb through the $1 billion in private insurance policies being lined up by Chicago 2016 to shield taxpayers from any risk beyond the $500 million the City Council has already pledged.

Chicago 2016 Chairman Pat Ryan said this week he needs 45 to 60 days before he’ll be ready to outline the carriers, costs and conditions of the insurance.

But after a closed-door briefing with Ryan Thursday, Ald. Joe Moore (49th) insisted that the information be delivered to aldermen in time to conduct an independent risk-assessment analysis prior to the International Olympic Committee’s Oct. 2 vote.

Aldermen also intend to hire their own experts to verify Chicago 2016’s construction budget and the Olympic committee’s representation of surpluses generated by past Olympics to make certain “they’re not cooking the books,” Moore said.

RTA budget woes foreshadow transit cuts

Crain's:
The Regional Transportation Authority lowered its revenue estimates Thursday, a move that could set the stage for service cuts among its three mass transit agencies.

The RTA expects to collect $61 million less this year than previously anticipated from sales and real estate transfer taxes. The economic recession, which has kept consumer spending in check and homebuyers on the sidelines, has taken its toll on the transportation agency.

It’s the second time the RTA has adjusted its revenue estimates. The agency in April reduced revenue projections by 9.8%.
This article mentions that CTA will only recieve $35 million less and CTA President Richard Rodriguez has said that there may be service cutson the trains and buses although no further details are provided. The next CTA board meeting is scheduled for July 10.

Also in transit news, while I'm not sure how many of you use paratransit services courtesy of Pace, but the fares for that might rise due to the RTA forecast:
RTA Chair Jim Reilly suggested that Pace could raise fares for paratransit riders to $3 across the region to deal with funding problems.

Reilly’s comments came as the RTA board considered reserving $25 million in federal capital funds from CTA, Metra and Pace to pay for service for the disabled. The decision on reserving the money was deferred until next month.

Currently, riders pay $2.25 in the city, $3 in suburban Cook County, and $2.50 in the collar counties to ride on paratransit, which provides van pick-up for riders who cannot take regular transit services due to their disabilities. The real cost of the service, which is federally mandated, is about $40 a trip.

Reilly said while he didn’t think a fare increase was inevitable, he thought having a uniform fare across the region would make sense, and the increase for Chicago and the collar counties would help with future funding problems.

“Even at $3 it’s a very good deal.” Reilly said. A spokesperson for Pace was not immediately available for comment.
Here's the meeting schedule for the CTA Board. You can also check out the meeting schedule (need Adobe Acrobat) for the RTA Board. Apparently they had one today (need Adobe Acrobat) although I didn't know about it until now!

BTW, this article was from yesterday probably not much to say that was already said in the other two exerpts in this post, however, it needs to be posted anyway:

CTA President Richard Rodriguez said that longer waits for buses may be coming due to a new $35 million budget shortfall, but he couldn't yet say exactly what service would be affected.

"Everything is on the table," Rodriguez said after speaking at the City Club of Chicago. "I can't necessarily stand here and say specific routes are going to be eliminated or weekend service is going to be eliminated or any of that." He said one possibility is that instead of having five-to-seven minute headways between buses on some routes, it could be 10 to 15 minutes.

Rodriguez said he is first trying to see what can be cut internally "without sacrificing quality." "We have to look at who's going to be impacted, who's more transit dependent . . . and where we can afford to reduce service and not necessarily eliminate service," said Rodriguez.

The shortfall, caused by a fall in both sales tax and real estate transfer tax revenues, is on top of an already announced $155 million reduction in the CTA budget.
Tough times ahead!

Chicago metro jobless rate hits 26-year high

Crain's:
Unemployment in metropolitan Chicago has reached a level not seen since August 1983.

The seasonally unadjusted jobless rate rose to 10.7% during May in the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet area, up from 9.9% the prior month, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

There were 185,900 fewer people employed in the metro area last month compared with the same month in 2008. That figure, the highest among the 12 Illinois metro areas reported, suggests that the recession continues to hamper the local labor market.

Suspects in custody for murder of 9-year-old girl

Girl lived in the ward at 75th & King Dr according to this Sun-Times report. This was in the feed for both the 6th and for Chatham courtesy of EveryBlock.
Two people are in custody in Wednesday night’s drive-by slaying of a 9-year-old girl who was outside her grandmother’s house washing her dog when she was shot in the neck, police said.

A rifle possibly linked to the crime has also been recovered, a source said. Forensic tests are underway to see if it was the weapon used to kill Chastity Turner.

The day before she died, Chastity told her grandmother she didn’t feel safe on the block because of a Tuesday shooting spree there. Chastity was there visiting her father.

The same block — the 7400 block of South Stewart — has also been the scene of two other shootings earlier this year. Police have executed search warrants on the same block in recent weeks seeking to seize weapons, sources said.

In June, a 22-year-old man was shot and wounded on the same block. In March, a high school student was shot and wounded there as well.
Read the whole article she already realized she was unsafe and then the unthinkable happens. It's probably said often enough, but it seems like we're losing too many young people already!

More on Aldermanic meetings with Olympic officials

A couple of articles on the controversy over the City of Chicago must guarantee the financing of the Olympics if the city is successful in its bid.

Aldermen lower the boom on Olympic planners after pledge backlash - Sun-Times
Chicago aldermen lowered the boom on Mayor Daley’s Olympic planners on Wednesday for concealing the need to sign a host-city contract that amounts to an open-ended guarantee from local taxpayers.

Chicago 2016 Chairman Pat Ryan has said he knew several weeks ago that the International Olympic Committee would insist that Chicago match the full-government guarantees pledged by rival cities.

But, Ryan chose to keep it quiet until last week, when Daley made the pledge to IOC members meeting in Switzerland.
...
Daley also waited until after the 2007 mayoral election to come clean about the need for a $500 million Olympic guarantee after initially pledging that “not a dime” of taxpayers’ money would be used to host the 2016 Summer Games.
Ald. Lyle was quoted in this article however one part of her quote was already seen in a similar article that I had already posted on this blog yesterday.

Chicago 2016 Chairman Patrick Ryan meets with aldermen in private on Olympics funding issues - Tribune
Just two days after Chicago 2016 Chairman Patrick Ryan tried to put off public hearings with angry aldermen about plans for financing the Olympic Games, he came to City Hall on Wednesday to allay their concerns in a series of closed-door meetings.

As he tried to calm City Council members who complained Mayor Richard Daley was keeping them in the dark about potential liability for taxpayers, Ryan and a Daley spokeswoman denied the private briefings would prevent the public from knowing what aldermen were being told.

"There will be [public] hearings and there will be briefings before the hearings, so they're fully aware and informed before the hearings," Ryan said of the aldermen when reporters caught up to him outside the unannounced meetings. "We want to take any mystery out of this, there's no privacy going on, what we're really doing is explaining where we are, why we are where we are."

Ryan was trying to calm a political storm caused last week when Daley told the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland that he was ready to sign "as is" a standard host-city contract. That agreement gives Chicago full financial responsibility for the Games, which would make taxpayers liable if the Olympics expenses outstripped about $2 billion in public guarantees and private insurance.

Recent shooting on 75th Street & murder charges filed in another shooting

Both pieces are from the Tribune the first happened last night and the other stories is a follow-up with indication of charges filed.

Teen wounded in shooting
A 14-year-old boy was wounded in a shooting Wednesday night near 75th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue in the South Side's Chatham neighborhood, police said.

The shooting occurred at about 10:45 p.m., said Chicago News Affairs Officer Ron Gaines.

The boy was taken to University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital, he said. 

 According to this report his condition is currently unknown.


Murder charges in Chatham homicide


Authorities accuse Calvin Marshall [19 yrs old], of the 5600 block of South Justine Avenue, of killing Miguel Russell, 29, on June 4, said Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Laura Kubiak.

That morning officers responded to a residence in the 600 block of East 87th Street at about 2 a.m. and found Russell dead with a gunshot wound to the head.

Investigators believe Russell was in the residence with two other people, one of whom drew a gun during an argument and shot the victim, police said at the time.

Marshall is due in bond court today.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Olympic planners meet with aldermen to discuss taxpayer contributions

Sun-Times only to reinforce what has been said already today about the subject of financing the Olympics:
Mayor Daley's Olympic planners will brief Chicago aldermen today to try and reverse a public relations nightmare caused by the mayor's pledge to sign a host city contract that amounts to an open-ended guarantee from local taxpayers.

"People in my community are in my face saying, ‘You were tricked. He said you weren't gonna have to. Now, he's saying you must. Who's watching the shop? Who's representing us?'" said Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th).

"He puts everybody in a very difficult position. We have to respond to our constituents, and I don't need to get beat up about this."

Last week, Daley touched off a political firestorm back home when he told International Olympic Committee members meeting in Switzerland that Chicago would match the full government guarantees offered by its Olympic rivals in Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro.

That means Chicago taxpayers would be the final back-stop for Olympic losses if Chicago 2016 burns through $2.5 billion worth of public and private guarantees, including insurance that has not yet been secured.
I'm sure there will be more updates about the meetings with the City Aldermen regarding the olympic bid!

UPDATED 10:12PM Olympics bid team holding secret meeting with aldermen - Clout St
Matsoff said the briefings to groups of about 13 aldermen today and tomorrow will be similar to the presentation Ryan made to reporters on Monday. That's when Ryan said it would take 45 to 60 days to brief aldermen on an insurance plan he said will prevent taxpayers from being on the hook.

The change in plan was "in response to the City Council and part of our own process," Matsoff said.

Headed into a meeting this afternoon were Alds. Tom Tunney (44th), Ariel Reboyras (30th), Ricardo Munoz (22nd), George Cardenas (12th), and Robert Fioretti (2nd).

Jacquelyn Heard, the mayor's spokeswoman, disputed the notion that the unannounced, closed-door meetings were secret.

“The 2016 team walked into a public building in broad daylight right past a crowd of reporters that the team knew was waiting there and proceeded to brief aldermen as part of the same process that had been in place for decades," Heard said. "First, aldermen are given the opportunity to ask questions and hear the facts in private. This allows them to develop a well-informed opinion before they air them publicly.”

Howard Watchers: Our Aldermen Gave Daley a Blank Check for Olympics

Hugh at Howard Watchers blog gives a brief timeline on the role of Chicago's City Council in the city's 2016 Summer Olympic bids. With quotes, text of ordinances, and roll call votes.

Black male conundrum

Catalyst-Chicago:
In Chicago’s public schools, African-American males are suspended and expelled at a higher rate than any other student group. Yet educators are working to raise black male graduation rates, creating a classic case of policy and practice at odds.
...
Nearly one in four black male students in Chicago Public Schools was suspended at least once last year, a rate that is twice as high as the district average.

This finding is also part of an upward trend that has resulted in a near doubling of the number of suspended students over the past five years, according to a Catalyst Chicago analysis.
...
The racial disparity for African-American males is even starker with expulsions, which are also on the rise. More than 60 percent of expelled students last year were black boys, up from 53 percent just five years ago.
Check out the why this matters part, however, I suggest you read the whole piece!
District officials have long said they are committed to eliminating the achievement gap for black boys. At the same time, data show that black male students are hardest hit by punitive discipline that affects their academics:
  • Studies have established a strong correlation between suspensions, course failures and dropping out. Black boys in CPS have the highest dropout rate of any racial or ethnic group, and also the highest rates of suspension and expulsion.
  • CPS scrapped its zero tolerance policy in 2006 in favor of restorative justice, which encourages schools to avoid punitive discipline and help students understand why their misbehavior is wrong and make restitution instead. But restorative justice has yet to take a strong hold.
  • Black male teachers, who can serve as mentors to black boys who are struggling academically and with their behavior, are in short supply in CPS.
  • The racial disparity is also apparent in suburban Cook County, where black boys account for just 11 percent of students but 35 percent of those suspended at least once and 44 percent of those expelled.
Via Newsalert!

Lease with Daley nephew sparks aldermanic crackdown

Sun-Times:
The Daley administration would be prohibited from signing a string of month-to-month leases — such as the one at a South Side industrial site co-owned by Mayor Daley’s nephew — under a crackdown in the works to restore “credibility” to the leasing process.

As chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Housing and Real Estate, Ald. Ray Suarez (31st) says he should have signed off on the lease at 3348 S. Pulaski.

But, City Hall’s decision to make it a month-to-month lease — and continue that temporary arrangement since November, 2007 — denied Suarez’ committee and the full City Council the right to approve the deal.
...
Suarez said he plans to introduce an ordinance at next week’s City Council meeting that would rein in month-to-month leases.

“You could have one or two or three or four months. Then, you would have to come to the City Council and have a letter of justification why it should be done,” Suarez said.

“Long month-to-month leases give the impression … that something [kinky] is going on. I want to make sure that we avoid any kind of perception out there by the public. ... We’re gonna correct this. ... It’s gonna be something that’ll bring credibility to the system.”
A lot of things to be upset about at City Hall lately!

Police items

Weis aims to use federal grants to hire more cops - Sun-Times
Staffing has become a concern in the last year as hiring has slowed. With vacancies and attrition rates, the department could be short more than 800 officers at the end of the year, compared with last year, according to the police union.
Weis hopes to hire an addition 150 officers using federal funds

Chicago police showing the colors for summer - Tribune
Weis is ordering all plainclothes officers -- about 800, by his estimate -- to wear full uniform when on duty. The officers, who include members of the gun, gang enforcement and tactical teams, will also be asked to perform street and vehicle stops along with their regular duties.

"It lets everybody see our officers in uniform. But more importantly, anybody they pull over clearly knows that they're the police," Weis said. "If the criminals see them ... maybe they'll think, 'Oh, today's not a good day to drive by and shoot someone.' "
Police Dept. civilian workers protest cuts - Sun-Times
Crossing guards, detention aides and traffic control aides descended on a City Council committee Tuesday to unleash their anger about impending layoffs.

Their frustrations were directed at both the city and their union, Service Employees Local 73.

The city was blamed for targeting 296 civilian police employees for a chunk of the 1,504 layoffs scheduled to take effect July 15, forcing uniformed police officers to do jobs that have nothing to do with fighting crime.

The union was blamed for failing to sign off on the 16 unpaid furlough days and other concessions that would avert the need for layoffs.
All via CapFax morning shorts!

County’s public guardian in court today; suing over budget

Sun-Times:
Cook County Public Guardian Robert Harris filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court Tuesday, asking a judge for a temporary restraining order and injunction against the service cuts which could go in to effect July 1 unless lawmakers in Springfield can cobble together a budget to spare counseling and other human services programs that face the ax.

He’ll appear before a Cook County judge today at 2 p.m. on the matter.

Harris is suing the governor and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services on behalf of about 100 wards of the state, children who have been sexually abused by a parent and even one child who was burned and jumped out of a window to escape an attacker.
Go to the article to see what Mr. Harris could be losing if these cuts do go into effect next month.

Via The Dome!

Rep. Davis eyes run for County Board chief

Sun-Times:
U.S. Rep. Danny Davis is forming an exploratory committee to consider running for Cook County Board president, said his spokeswoman Tumia Romero.

Davis commissioned a poll which showed “very favorable” numbers for his run, Romero said, including placing him 7 points ahead of County Commissioner Forrest Claypool, the presumptive front-runner who pulled out of the race last week.

Davis is meeting withCounty Board President Todd Stroger to discuss the race. Davis was the runnerup three years ago when Democratic committeemen chose a successor to Stroger’s father, John, who suffered a stroke before winning the Democratic primary.
I wonder what's the point of meeting with a potention opponent to discuss a particular race. Either way 2010 is going to be interesting as far as Cook County Politics. Things could change but I percieve Stroger as a weak incumbent.

Go get 'em, Tiger!

Clout City on the efforts by Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica seeking legal action, by lobbying the Cook County State's Attorney or the State Attorney General or even taking this issue to court himself, regarding Mayor Daley's action that forced Chicago to be financially responsible for the Olympic Games in 2016. Wow financing these games with city money is some real controversy. I heard Pat Ryan is privately meeting with Chicago alderman regarding financing these games on WLS-AM today!

Black Press of America Convening in Minneapolis This Week

I just found this thru the news feeds at the CapFax this morning:
Boxing promoter and Black publisher Don King, actor/comedian Bill Cosby, members of the Congressional Black Caucus and top Black publishers from around the nation are among the big names to highlight the 2009 National Convention of the National Newspaper Publishers Association in Minnesota this week.
...
Also, Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.); Keith Ellison (D-Minn.); and Donna Christensen (D-V.I.) are among those confirmed to lead a Saturday morning health workshop. U. S. Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.), the only Black member of the U. S. Senate, in the throws of a re-election campaign, is also expected to address the publishers.
Well they're under the assumption that he may run for re-election next year. There is not an announcement as of yet, however, I could just assume there is some coyness here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Englewood Resident Talks About Crime in the Neighborhood

Mary Williams talks to Chicago Public Radio about the crime in Englewood in light of today's article about Chicago being home to four of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the nation. You can download an mp3 file here!

CTA may cut service by 17.5 percent

Sun-Times:
The CTA may have to cut service by 17.5 percent in order to deal with a new $35 million shortfall in sales tax revenue.

The shortfall is in addition to an already announced $155 million shortage for the 2009 budget, according to RTA spokeswoman Diane Palmer. The CTA addressed the $155 million gap by moving money designated for capital projects into preventative maintenance and bus and L car rehab.
...

In a June 11 letter to RTA head Steve Schlickman, CTA President Rich Rodriguez said that a $10 million reduction in public funding may require a 5 percent cut in service — thus a $35 million loss could equal a 17.5 percent cut.

Rodriguez said in the letter that he would try to mitigate the negative impact on customers, especially those who are transit dependent.
Tribune gets a little more specific on these cuts:
Entire CTA bus routes could be terminated and bus and rail service overall reduced by as much as 20 percent, CTA officials said.

"Service reductions through route elimination would need to be drastic in order to ensure a balanced budget,'' CTA President Richard Rodriguez told the RTA in a June 11 letter responding to the planned funding reductions to the CTA of $50 million, which were later adjusted to $35 million.
Tough times ahead!

Sen. Donne Trotter on Chicago Tonight

The Republican House leader Tom Cross and the Democratic Senate Budget expert who is also a state senator for the 6th Ward on the current stalemate on the state budget and the current special session that convened today. This segment aired on WTTW last night.

Chicago-area home sales down just 19% in May

Crain's:
Chicago-area home sales fell almost 19% in May compared with last year but increased over the previous month for the fourth straight time, according to the Illinois Assn. of Realtors. 

“We are seeing more activity in the housing market with increased listings, more activity at showings, a surge in interest from first-time buyers as well as some improvement in time on market,” Pat Callan, president of the association and owner of Realty Executives Premiere in Wheaton, said in a release Tuesday from the association.

Mr. Callan also says in the release that first-time buyers need to close by Nov. 30 under current guidelines to get the $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers.
...
In the city of Chicago, May sales fell 27.5%, to 1,537 compared with 2,119 in April 2008. Sales rose 11.5% compared with April.
...
In the city, the median price fell 29.5% in May, to $225,000 compared with $319,000 in May 2008.

Costly Chicago 911 center remodeling a waste

The Sun-Times on $480K spent by the Daley administration on 911 center consoles that were about to be replaced themselves anyway. Also via CapFax morning shorts!

Deal near on partial rollback of Cook sales tax hike

Greg Hinz on a proposed county sales tax rollback that may well be approved by the county board and signed by President Todd Stroger. Via CapFax morning shorts!

UnFixIllinois

Check out this website that I found via Dan Proft's campaign website. Proft is set to announce whether or not he will run for the Republican nomination for Governor this morning.

Chicago's most dangerous neighborhoods

Included in this article the future site of Olympic Stadium in the Washington Park neighborhood and one nearby with this morning's blog post focus in the Englewood neighborhood:
Chicago's three other danger zones are located in poverty-stricken Englewood, a hot bed for violence in recent years. They include census tracts near:

• • 66th and Yale, ranked No. 19 with a violent crime ratio of 115 (per 1,000 residents).

• • 58th and Wallace and 60th and Winchester, ranked No. 24 and 25, respectively. Residents had a 1-in-9 chance of being violent crime victims.

"Englewood is a neighborhood that has had a lot of things happen to it. There are very good people in Englewood, and their houses are often the only ones standing on their block," said Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th). "Public policy decisions made long ago caused us to get where we are today."

Lyle, whose ward includes 66th and Yale, said the study shines another light on the desperate need for both short-term fixes and a long-term solution to social problems that plague Englewood.

"It's been time for [Mayor Daley] to pay attention," she said. "We put more money collectively into Englewood than anywhere else, but it's a little here and a little there. We need to go back in there and consolidate resources to solve some of the problems."
Via Newsalert!

Monday, June 22, 2009

A pair of items from the RHCA

Roseland Heights community council newsletter

Stop Illegal Activities in Abbott Park
: Call 911 if you see
  1. Any person parked on grass, or who leaves any vehicle in any part of a park between the closing of gates at night, (10:00 PM) and their reopening on the following day or operates.drive any motor care, automobile or vehicle of any kind in the park (on or off grass).
  2. No person the age of 12 or older shall use playground equipment. Use your judgement if teens maybe, never adults 911 *(for Shedd also)
  3. *No alcoholic beverages shall be sold, brought, give away, delivered or consumed on park property
  4. *No person shall organize/sponsor any group activities (50 persons) in park or facilities unless approved by General Park Superintendent or any person without a permit conducting an event involvine more than 50 individuals, sale of goods, amplified sound, or commercial activities. They must have a permit call (312) 747-1592 to check then call 911*
  5. *It is unlawful for any person to loiter, loaf, stand, or remain idle alone or with others on park property after park is closed at 10:00 PM. Call 911
  6. No person shall engage in soliciting on park property without permits. * NEVER on 95th Street with or without permits 95th is a NO peddling zone. Whenever you see sales begging, or peddling of any kind (from State to King Dr.) call the police 911
Stop Illegal Activities in Harlan High School parking lot: Call 911 if you see or hear
  1. Groups not authorized to use school grounds, parking lot or CPS property
  2. Large groups using parking lot for rehearsal, partying, sale of goods, amplified sound, or commercial activities after school is out, or over the summer
  3. No perso shall light or make use of any fire. NO fire ever! If you see fire call the police and fire department.
  4. Use of CPS property for day camps, play classes, or any group activities in parking lot is unlawful any time.
  5. NO alchoholic beverages shall be sold, brought, given away, deliverered, or consumed on CPS property. NO alcohol ever!
Typing that was hard work, I wonder if I should just post the newsletter itself. There's more info than where that came from!

Roland Burris more or less gets back his good name

I don't normally read the left-wing website, Daily Kos, but I link to this post regaring the news about Sen. Burris' not facing any charges from the Sangamon County State's Attorney. However, I want to highlight a poll that is being held over there to determine how people may perceive this controversy around Burris. Go over there and vote your feelings on the Senator.

Thwarted burglary?

On Sunday afternoon at about maybe a quarter to 2PM.

A couple of young men were ringing our doorbell and they lingered for quite a while continuing to ring the doorbell or knocking our door. My first instinct especially if I don't know the person(s) is to not answer although this could be a signal for any possible criminal to decide this is one place they want to break into.

Then I saw them head down my neighbor's drive way next door and was heading towards our backyard. My mom headed upstairs and I decided to go downstairs. They saw me and asked for someone by name, it wasn't a name I recognized and politely they said sorry and finally moved on.

If they were looking for someone then why would they go around the house and then attempt to go into a backyard?

If you want more details then send an e-mail, police officers only!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Cautionary Father's Day Tale


Artistmac plays his dad in this one! Words of wisdom:
So, fathers, celebrate your children. Don't force your dreams on them. Celebrate their strengths, their talents, their needs and desires, and especially, their eccentricities. History is not made by the well-behaved.

Happy Father's Day

I hope you're spending this day with your daddies and remember the ones who are no longer with you.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cobb: No campaign decision for Burris yet

Read the brief round-up on the CapFax. Talking briefly about the non-announcement of Sen. Burris' re-election bid!

Notice of Filing and Hearing of Amendment for Rezoning

This notice involves Harlan High School located at 9652 S. Michigan Avenue to change it's zoning from POS-1 Parks and Open Space District as it is now, probably because it's located on land that's part of nearby Abbott Park, to RS-3 Residential Single Unit (detached house) District. The hearing will be in the City Council Chambers at Chicago's city hall on 121 N. LaSalle St. on the 2nd Floor. The day is Thursday July 16th at 10 AM.

If you want to read the notices click the scans!

The county free-for-all

Clout City looks at the Democratic contenders for county board president. Even with the departure recently of Forrest Claypool and Paul Vallas (at least as a Republican) I thought it already was a free-for-all. Especially if the current occupant of this office is percieved as very weak at the moment with little or no chance to be re-elected!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Real Men Cook at KKC

Well I think I heard about it one day and I wanted to post this. I still will even though it's coming up on Sunday. It's right in the neighborhood at Kennedy King College on 63rd & Halsted.

You want more information just go to this page.

Burris to announce candidacy for US Senate tonight!

Read the brief round-up at the Capitol Fax!

UPDATE 5:50 PM Or maybe not from the same CapFax link!
OK, I shoulda known it was all too good to be true. I’m getting that the CBS2 story linked above is not accurate and there’s no announcement coming.

Quinn wants income tax vote Wednesday

AP:
Gov. Pat Quinn wants lawmakers to vote Wednesday on an income tax increase while they're in Springfield working on the state budget.
...

The governor has called a special session to get lawmakers back to work to avoid $9.2 billion in spending cuts. But so far there hasn't been enough support among lawmakers to pass Quinn's tax increase.

Quinn wants a two-year, temporary boost that would raise the personal income tax rate to 4.5 percent from 3 percent.

Student Aid Program On The Ropes

Progress Illinois:
Unlike numerous other states nationwide, Illinois has in the past made a strong financial commitment to help high school graduates pay for college. Thanks to the our Monetary Award Program (MAP), one of the largest and most comprehensive need-based student aid programs in the country, 145,000 students statewide were given $384 million in interest-free grants last year to cover fees and tuition at any approved state college or university. Not surprisingly, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) saw a 30 percent jump in applications for the coming school year.

Unfortunately, the size of MAP grants hasn't kept pace with the rising cost of college. State funding for higher education has dropped 18 percent for public universities and 13 percent for community colleges in recent years. To compensate, schools have dragged more cash out of their students by way of tuition and fees to cover the bills. Grant sizes have not increased equally. The Institute for Government and Public Affairs calculates that between FY 1996 and FY 2001, the average MAP award for students in Illinois covered about 65 percent and 54 percent of overall tuition and fees for public universities and community colleges, respectively. That ratio has declined to around 40 percent in both sectors since.

Duncan praises state's education reforms

Tribune:
Speaking in Chicago today, Education Secretary Arne Duncan praised progress made toward reforming Illinois education since an April visit here when he scolded the state for its lack of past action.

"I was probably a little tough in my comments to Illinois," he said at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. "Since that time, there's been some absolutely remarkable progress I would not have predicted."

Duncan pointed to the recent move by state lawmakers to double the number of charter schools allowed in the state, efforts to create new data systems to track performance and discussions underway to boost state standards.

The former head of Chicago Public Schools made his remarks at a conference sponsored by Advance Illinois, a bipartisan reform group led by former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar and Bill Daley, the former U.S. commerce secretary and mayoral brother.

Tony Peraica's open letter to the IL GOP

Illinois Review:
The people I represent in Cook County are suffering. Business bankruptcies have shot up 60%; mortgage foreclosures have gone from 12,000 to 50,000 per year; and, we are paying the highest sales and gasoline taxes in the country.

Unemployment in Cook County now stands at 9.5% -- and it’s above 40% for African-American males between the ages of 18-40.

And yet our legislators want to make the situation worse by doubling the state income tax, exploding the expansion of gambling, increasing taxes on everything from cigarettes, alcohol and candy to a host of other services.

Some of us on the cook county board have held firm in opposition to Todd Stroger’s tax increase because it’s the right thing to do. Now it’s time for the Illinois General Assembly to do the same by holding firm against the Democrat tax hikes.
Now the next question is how does he arrive at those figures I put in bold.

Via Newsalert!

Olympics money

Aldermen Manny Flores, Joe Moore, and George Cardenas discuss the financial situation regarding Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

You can also watch at the Chicago Tonight page.

UPDATE 12 NOON City Council to take another vote on Olympic contract - Sun-Times
The Daley administration agreed Thursday to seek City Council authorization before signing an Olympic host-city contract that amounts to an open-ended guarantee from local taxpayers.

After the host committee lined up an additional layer of private insurance, mayoral press secretary Jacquelyn Heard insisted that Chicago taxpayers would be no more at risk than they were when the City Council agreed to a $500 million Olympic guarantee in March, 2007.

But, she acknowledged that political reality dictates that aldermen take another vote.

"If there are questions or concerns raised by the City Council, of course the mayor would be comfortable with them taking another look," Heard said.

"But, he's not agreeing to that because he believes we've extended a liability for taxpayers. He's doing it because this is a big decision. And it stands to reason that, if there's even the perception there's been a change, the Council would want to take another look."

Prosecutor: Sen. Burris won't face perjury charge

AP:
Illinois Sen. Roland Burris will not be charged with perjury for statements he made before an Illinois House impeachment committee because there isn't enough evidence to support the charge, the state prosecutor investigating the case said Friday.

Sangamon County State's Attorney John Schmidt said that while some of Burris' statements were vague, they wouldn't support a perjury charge.

"I am obviously very pleased with today's decision by State's Attorney John Schmidt. His investigation was both thorough and fair, and I am glad that the truth has prevailed," Burris said in a statement.

"This matter has now been fully investigated; I cooperated at every phase of the process, and as I have said from the beginning, I have never engaged in any pay-to-play, never perjured myself, and came to this seat in an honest and legal way. Today's announcement confirms all that," he said.
So how is that US Senate ethics investigation going?

Beyond, that it's on 2010. I hear Lisa Madigan wants to clear the Democratic field if she wants to be our state's next US Senator. Although reputed Obama buddy Alexi Giannoulis claims he isn't going down without a fight. Next year is going to be something, I'm telling you!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Daley to hold public meeting with aldermen on Olympics contract controversy

Clout St:
After initially questioning the need, Mayor Richard Daley has decided to discuss the controversy over Chicago's Olympic bid contract with aldermen in a public forum, his spokeswoman said today.

“The mayor understands the City Council is a critical partner in this endeavor,” Daley spokeswoman Jacquelyn Heard said. “They’ve raised concerns. They have questions. So we will put the matter before council again.”

Whether the session is informational or involves another vote “would be a determination that the City Council members would have to make.”
No doubt in response to a recent story about the mayor now guaranteeing Chicago's financial stake in the 2016 Olympics should we be successful in winning our bid for the games!