Monday, November 30, 2009

New admission standards for CPS schools

These stories caught my eye because well I subscribe to a Google Alert where I can pick up articles regarding Ald. Lyle. There were stories on CPS admissions and stories (such as this) on an ordinance to restrict the number of dogs a person can own. I like dogs to be sure, however, I believe the CPS issue is more important on this blog. So let's share shall we.

Let's set this one up:
The plan will govern admissions for the 2010-2011 school year. It comes in the wake of a federal judge's decision to release the school district from court supervision over desegregation.

It also requires district officials to review decisions of principals at academically selective schools who admit students whose test scores aren't high enough. It also eliminates discretionary admission at magnet schools for one year.

Those discretionary moves have become the subject of an investigation over whether politically connections have marred the admissions process.
Now what does the Alderman say on this issue:
Lyle argued that CPS would have “tanked” if not for middle-class black students who attended schools like Black, Murray, Beasley, Kenwood, McDaniel and Whitney Young before it was the cream of the crop.

“They’re the ones whose parents have been driving ‘em all over the city. They’re the ones whose parents have been taking ‘em to enrichment programs to make sure they could test into these schools that were test-only, even though we know they were test-only and principals’ discretion,” Lyle said.

“Now, we say to them, ‘Sorry. You’ve helped the school system stay out of receivership for the last 20 years. But now, you can go pay tuition because we’ve got another group of people who are tired of paying tuition, and they want these seats.”

No matter what the motive is, Lyle said the effect will be that middle-class minority students seeking admission to elite public schools will get the shaft.

“Show me where there is no reason for the people of color who live on the West Side or the South Side to be concerned that the better schools are still located on the North Side — that this is not 1951 [or] 1969 separate, but unequal,” she said.

“I went to an all-black elementary school. I was in a Willis Wagon [mobile classroom]. ... When I read this preposterous program that you guys formulated, I said, ‘God. This is déjà vu’ because we’re still the most racially segregated city in the United States.”
That excerpt was from the Sun-Times, but this is a brief one from Chicago Current:
The North vs. South theme was echoed by Alderman Freddrenna Lyle, who noted that CPS has 16 competitive enrollment schools on the North Side, and 10 on the South Side.

"It's 1951 again," she said, referring to a time when the city's schools were segregated by law.
You can read more about CPS' new admissions plan here.

If I may interject my opinion on this subject. I do support the idea of selective enrollment programs in the city schools. I also believe however that there is also a lot of work to be done with neighborhood schools. What is offered in the selective enrollments schools that couldn't otherwise be offered in neighborhood schools?

Note that a few times I talk about Harlan a lot. Mainly because of my experiences at the school during its worst days. Also because I have a vested interest in knowing that students there are able to thrive. Hopefully they can have their heads in their books instead of other activities that could adversely affect the rest of their lives.

Alexander Russo of District 299 was right in discussing the issues of the public schools on WGN Saturday morning. Perhaps the best offered in these selective enrollment schools should be replicated in the neighborhood schools.

At the same time, if a parent isn't satisfied with the level of instruction at their neighborhood then they should have the ability to send their kids to better schools provided that they should qualify to enter such programs. I don't yet have children, but I may not see a racial angle unless it is actually documented that say black students are denied admission to a selective enrollment school. Especially if there is no documented or logical reason for this denial.

QUESTIONS: Do you support the selective enrollment program for CPS schools? What do you think need to be done to bolster neighborhood schools? Also what do you think about the new admissions policy at CPS?

Police on hunt for garage-door-ramming thieves

From a recent e-mail blast from Greater Chatham Alliance, they referred to this Sun Times article. Over the next couple of days, we will post crime alerts 2-4 out of 4 ...
Police on hunt for garage-door-ramming thieves :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Chicago Crime

Earlier this year, thieves used stolen garage door openers to break into garages and rip off things inside.

A pair of South Side thieves aren’t quite as savvy: They’re just ramming open garage doors with an SUV or pickup.

Chicago Police issued a community alert Friday to put people on the lookout for the thieves, who began their tricks earlier this month.

Beginning Nov. 6, the thieves used a red GM SUV or pickup to ram open doors in the Chatham and Avalon Park neighborhoods. The boundaries of the thefts have been 75th Street on the north, 86th Street on the south, LaSalle on the west and Seeley on the east.

The thieves, described as two men between 20 and 25 years old, have swiped tools, radios and yard equipment. Their garage-ramming has also damaged several cars parked inside the garages.

Anyone with information is asked to call Area 2 detectives at (312) 747-8273.

Walmart- What workers say about the company

I recently found this article from Bronzeville Metropolis. I didn't agree with some of the points brought out in this article especially "economically challenged" Chatham community. But I found this interview with an employee from the West side store interesting.
I noticed Henry* at the Austin Wal-Mart, store lo­cated on Chicago’s west side, as I watched staff mem­bers pull him in different directions to either joke around or seek work-related advice. It appeared that he was well respected and admired by the younger associates, so I felt compelled to approach him to ask a simple question, “Do you enjoy working for Wal-Mart?” And unlike the other 6 associates I previously asked - who all robotically shouted “Yes”; Henry, a man in his late 50s, paused for a while, chuckled to himself and said “Yes”.

Henry is just one out the 1.4 million associates Wal-Mart employs in the U.S. - making it the largest pri­vate U.S. employer. Last fiscal year, Wal-Mart earned $401 billion in sales; which is larger than the GNP for even a small industrialized countries. e retail giant has historically developed stores in rural and subur­ban communities, however recently Wal-Mart has shielded its growth plans to aggressively pursue large urban markets and have successfully opened 2 urban stores in Los Angeles and Chicago.

While, they’ve achieved some success, other cities, such as New York, Detroit and D.C. won’t even enter­tain Wal-Mart’s proposals to develop a store concept within their city limits. There are two major reasons why Wal-Mart has experienced massive opposition: jobs & wages and community retail development. This opposition is currently happening right here on the Southside and the controversy is heavily centered on jobs and wages
.
Wal-Mart laid quietly dormant until October when the IOC gave Chicago a swift punch in the gut announcing Rio as their host city for the 2016 Olympics; but they found the bad news to be an op­portune time to reignite their interest in developing on the south side. Their next proposed location is for a 190,000 sq. ft. urban supercenter, which includes a full grocer, in the economically challenged com­munity of Chatham on 83rd and Stewart. The site is a mere 7 miles from our Bronzeville community and to understand the scaling would be to imagine a re­tail destination that could hold 75-100 Agriculture’s and Z & H’s; however without the benefit of diversity in services and products that small businesses tend to offer communities.

So what’s the big deal, right? In Chicago we’re suf­fering through tough economic times: people need money and people want to save money. Well, the Wal-Mart store debate boils down to this: jobs versus qual­ity jobs - it’s just that simple. Alderman Brookins, 21st ward, is advocating for the Wal-Mart in City Council, where his ordinance is currently sitting in the Finance Committee. According to a blog posting he made on Huffington Post, he merely states, “the store will create at least 400 new jobs and stimulate economic development.” He wants jobs, but it doesn’t seem to be transparent to south side residents what Brookins is proposing with regard to benefits for these Wal-Mart jobs.

On the other hand, Amisha Patel, a representative from the Good Jobs Chicago Campaign, was very clear on what the group defines as a quality job - jobs that provide workers with living wages and affordable health insurance. Good Jobs Chicago is a coalition of residents, business owners, Pastors, and organizations fighting for quality jobs from big box retailers, such as Wal-Mart. the group feels there is much room for improvement from big box retailers, as Amisha states, “existing low wages is not economic development...
we need good jobs so that workers can pay the rent, clothing, etc...and not be placed in a position to choose between two [necessary] things.”

Henry began working for Wal-Mart in 2007 at $8.40/hour. His disenchantment with the company developed because Ald. Mitts of Austin and Wal-Mart promised workers that by 2007 all employees would earn at least $10/hour and receive quarterly bonuses. Over the 2+years that Henry has been employed at Wal-Mart, he’s only received $1 in salary raises; bring­ing him just 60 cents shy of the $10/hour promised. He’s also only received 3 out of the 12 possible bo­nuses; his last bonus of $83 was paid last Spring.

Henry and I sat down over coffee to discuss his monthly expenses in order to illustrate the difficulty that a full-time Wal-Mart employee has with covering basic living expenses. Similar to the other Wal-Mart associates I spoke with, Henry subsidizes his and his child’s healthcare through government programs -- his wife is uninsured and relies on free clinics.

Henry takes home $1,170/month, which includes disability insurance and tax deductions, however his monthly living expenses are $1,613; leaving him $443 over budget. He supplements his income by working another job that pushes his total work week to 70 hours/week, excluding his 3 hour/day public trans­portation commute. When asked does he have time for fun, he responded as if the concept seemed for­eign, explaining that he lives a “simple life of church, home and work.” He continued, “Basically the way the schedule is, you don’t have that much [time for fami­ly], because your off days are not back to back...so you get off one day, you take care of errands, but by [then] it’s time to go to bed to go to work the next day.”

In response to Wal-Mart’s failed public commit­ments to Henry and all the “Henrys” working at Wal-Mart, Amisha states, “part of the challenge [is Wal-Mart] makes lots of claims that sound great, but in reality it’s quite different...Costco on the north side has quality living wage jobs, why can’t Southsiders get those same living wage jobs too.”

So yes Henry does have a Wal-Mart job; but the job forces him to work almost 2 full-time jobs just to cover his living expenses. Perhaps if Henry was given a choice between two jobs: one at status quo and one that gave him back the 30 extra hours taken away from laughing with his family, watching the game with his buddies, and being more active in his church - then who knows what story Henry would be sharing with me today.

*The name changed for purpose of protecting iden­tity of worker

Dhyia is a consultant with the virgoProject, LLC. Wal-Mart did not respond to Bronzeville Metropolis’ re­quest for an interview. For respectful exchanges of ideas please feel free to share comments at dhyia@yahoo.com, for all others stop and smell the roses.

What do you think?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Family Dollar- Would you support a moratorium on the opening of any new stores?

This is a repost of a question from Concerned Citizens of Chatham. After reading the Chesterfield Community Council November newsletter. In the newsletter they stated their displeasure with the store on 87th King Drive and also stated that there was six stores in zip code 60619. On the Family Dollar website it states that the following stores are located in zipcode 60619
  • 8341 S Cottage Grove Ave
  • 1312 E 79th St
  • 364 E 87th St
  • 51 E 71st Street
  • 1425 E 71st St
  • 501 E 79th St
There was a store on 74th & Cottage Grove that has recently closed.

The suggestion of a moratorium ensures that there is community input in the opening of stores. Currently in the Sixth Ward there are moratoriums on the opening of :
1. Hair Salons along 75th and 79th from State to Cottage Grove
2. Liquor Stores on 79th from State to Cottage Grove

The above moratoriums were resident initiated and not forced by the Alderman. In a past conversation I had with her concerning expanding the hair salon area she stated that I had to give her evidence that it is something that a majority of the residents supported. The above moratoriums were brought to the Alderman by CAPCC on behalf of the residents in the affected areas.

The comments on Concerned Citizens of Chatham on this issue are as follows:

-One on 87th and King Drive and one on 79th Street and yet another one on Cottage Grove near 83rd Street. Yeah there should be a moratorium. Let me know if I missed one.

-I would also add barber shops, hair salons, chicken & fish spots.

-HOW DO I SUPPORT?

- personally I could do without nail salons.

-DOLLAR STORES ARE AS BAD AS LIQUOR STORES AND ASIAN BEAUTY SUPPLIES AS WELL AS THOSE CHICKEN PLACES

-I support that move. We have an overabundance of many of the same kind of stores in our zip code.

-A moratorium won't help get new business. It's fine for a social problem, like liquor stores & strip clubs. But the moratorium won't get any other business to come. Look at the new "green" building on 79th and that's why they're empty.

-Instead of listing what we don't want (isn't that the complaint about CAPCC, Worlee?), what we NEED to focus on is what businesses SHOULD come, and figure out why we're driving OUT of our community to them. Is it the parking? The people (i.e. more integrated) ? Customer service? Cost? Something else?

What do you think?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Sixth Ward CBO's and Economic Development

The Sixth Ward is the home of some of the oldest and the strongest Community Based Organizations(CBO's). The organizations such as Park Manor Neighbors Community Council, Chatham Avalon Park Community Council, Chesterfield Community Council, Roseland Heights Community Council, and the Wabash,Indiana, Michigan organization(now GCA) came about because of the migration of African American families into what is now known as the sixth ward.

In the past, these organizations rallied together around issues that had an effect on the total community such as the mall on 87th Lafayette ensuring that African Americans had an ownership stake. But recently smaller developments and businesses on the so called service area "borders" have divided the organizations and residents(i.e 333 car wash, Fresh mart convenience store, Family Dollar 87th King).

Who has the final say on what businesses and developments go where CBO's or residents?

ARCHIVED NEWS: Making it in Chatham Part 4

Location: Chatham, Chicago, IL, USA
So this is the last of the Sun-Times series published in the spring of 1986. This installment published on May 1, 1986 was entitled, "Looking to the next generation // Children, newcomers hold key as neighborhood starts to gray". This issue was touched upon in the first installment posted here October 25, in fact Worlee mentioned that the community seems to have a problem attracting younger residents in a graying community.

To start Keith Tate, who's the current President of the Chatham/Avalon Park Community Council (CAPCC), has been mentioned at various points in time throughout this series. This article he talks about the Chatham of his youth before all the whites moved out. Well in 2009, there may be concerns by some that whites are scouting Chatham. It may or may not be true, but in 1986 it was reported in this article:
But whites may be coming back to Chatham, after three decades. Young whites have been scouting the community, looking for housing opportunities. And many blacks would like to see some of them move in, because the community now sorely needs an infusion of new young people, whatever their color.

Chatham today is in some ways a victim of its own success, of old age, and of racial integration.

"Most of our children who grew up here have been successful," said Eddie Robinson, 67, a retired carpenter. "They have good jobs. So they move on, away from here. They move downtown. They move all over. I have a daughter in the West Indies, a son in Atlanta. And the sad thing is, the rest of us are growing old here now in Chatham."

You can see that at meetings of the Chatham-Avalon Park Community Council, in which Robinson serves as an area vice president. Most of the officers are senior citizens, gray of head and long in the tooth. And the block clubs that make up the council have dwindled from more than 220 to maybe half that number, many of them inactive.

Infirm older folks are finding it harder to maintain their homes - to mow their lawns, weed their gardens and keep up repairs.
That is definitely a problem today. The neighborhood growing increasingly elderly and as a result property isn't kept up and they may not always be active on their blocks or in the neighborhood organizations. The next problem is who may move in when the elderly either chooses to move on or they pass away:
As their best and brightest move out, Chathamites also are disturbed by an influx of newcomers who have been moving into rental apartments in surrounding areas and in Chatham itself (mainly in the areas north of 79th Street and east of Martin Luther King Drive). Middle-class blacks historically have been pursued in their migrations by poor blacks, and the pattern appears to be repeating itself in Chatham.

"They're coming from the ghetto," said Jack Fisher, 69, a retired factory worker. "From down in the slums. And they're not the type of people I'd like to live with. They don't care about the neighborhood."

A substantial number are on welfare, or in Section 8 subsidized housing.Wow! We still had most of the public housing high rises back then and they've already anticipated the problems that are largely occurring today. There are some in the community who may well have expressed their reservations over Section 8 tenants taking up residence in the community. Before I excerpt this article I wonder if anyone has encountering any problems with Section 8 tenants.
And this anticipates a problem that even now we're dealing with. At that in 1986, we were talking about a CHA plan for transformation and since we've started tearing down some public housing around the city especially high rises surely this program has only expanded since that time.

Perhaps this is still true and may only complicate attempts to bring in much younger residents into the community:
Given the current demand for houses in Chatham, you might think the problem of regeneration already is solving itself.

"Somebody's always calling me to see if I want to sell my house," said Clementine Skinner, a 70-year-old widow. "They have a list, I guess, and they call all the seniors. I get at least three or four calls a week."

That's typical. Available homes in fact seldom make it to the market and often are snapped up by insiders who are tipped off by friends and relatives.
Is this still the case today? Are homes in Chatham still slow to hit the market?

Here's another issue that may make the difference between stagnation and revitalization:
Local shopping strips have not thrived with the rest of the community.

That's ironically due in part to Chatham's affluence, and the middle-class tastes of residents who prefer to shop in outlying malls and downtown. There's also as yet only a short history of black entrepreneurship. But Chatham does have strong financial institutions, including the Seaway National Bank of Chicago and Independence Bank of Chicago, the largest and second-largest black-owned banks in the nation. Plans are on the boards for a new mall at 87th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue.

And the crowds at Army & Lou's magnificent soul food restaurant on 75th Street prove that Chatham-ites will support high-quality local enterprises.

If Chathamites are worried about the future, it is precisely that kind of concern that has kept their community viable. They have always looked ahead, alert to potential problems. And economic realities will almost certainly abet their efforts to attract a new generation of young people.
And goes back to a semi-recurring theme here on this blog. I do like the fact that this blog has gone in the direction of what I like to call "neighborhood development".

I say this knowing that while the blog generally direct some of these ideas to the Chatham community, there is already a neighborhood there with surely great residents who spent a very long time living in that community. Neighborhood development refers to ways that Chatham can further thrive and also attract business and residents. Another part of that is to bring in some younger people especially more educated  younger people who can bring Chatham some new vitality.

Something to consider, but get this. In that last paragraph, it could almost match what's occuring in 2009. Economic realities currently could hamper any possible effort to bring in a new generation of Chatham residents. It is, however, still a necessary thing and this is something that could use discussion in the near future.

I hope you read the whole article and you enjoyed a look back into Chatham's past.

District 299 blogger on WGN Radio this morning

Listen to both Part 1 and Part 2. Alexander Russo writes the District 299: Chicago Schools blog and is another blogger in the stable of Chicago bloggers at the Tribune website, ChicagoNow. This is a part of a new radio program on WGN-AM called ChicagoNow Radio.

On Saturday mornings betwen 9 AM to 1 PM, Bill Leff will play host to several ChicagoNow bloggers to talk about their blogs and what are the issues or subjects contained on their blogs. In the case of Russo and District 299, they discuss who may replace Michael Scott as school board president, the progress of the city's public schools, and why he chose to continue writing the blog from Brooklyn, New York.

It should be an interesting listen.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Chatham Avalon Park Community Council meeting today

Chatham Avalon Park Community Council, sub-area IV, has meeting today at 3pm.

Unfortunately, the information showed up as a flyer on my door around noon on Thanksgiving. It would have been nice to know this ahead of time.

The meeting is Friday, November 27, 3p -4p at Mather's More than a Cafe, 33 E. 83rd St.

For more info, call the CAPCC office at 1-866-272-1215

The agenda is as such:
1. Opening
2. Sub area operations Overview
3. Sub area update
Area Block club presidents
Are concerns/hot spots
4. 213 E. 83rd St. Proposal
5. Upcoming Community Events
6. Adjournment.

Elgie Simms, who is running against William Beavers for Cook County Commissioner, is the Vice President for CAPCC, Area IV.

Items from the Chesterfield Community Council newsletter

View this month's edition here!
TULEY PARK TO LOSE THE LIBRARY

Chicago Public Library will permanently close the Tuley Park Library on Wednesday, November 25. Patrons are encouraged to utilize the library on 79th & King Drive or 95th & Halsted. We will miss this staple in our community.

CRIME

On Monday, Oct. 26, late afternoon, a male claiming to be a Utility worker attempted to gain access to a home on the 300 block of East 90th Street. The resident was unable to verify the individual identification and refused entry. The Utility Company denied sending anyone to the residence. BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS AND VERIFY THE IDENTITY OF PERSON(S) REQUESTING ENTRY INTO YOUR RESIDENCE
Also noted in this newsletter is that Illinois Service Federal (ISF) bank has celebrated 75 years in business and has a branch on 87th & King Drive with a main branch at 4619 S. Martin Luther King Drive. Also noted is continued opposition to the Family Dollar across the street from the ISF branch at 87th & King Drive in the storefront that was once home to Grocery Basket.

An event to note is that on December 15th is a Kwanzaa/Christmas Party.

Small businesses up against big-box titans

JP and myself visited Fletcher's during the tour after the grand re-opening of Renaissance Row on 75th Street in October. This month the Sun-Times pays a visit to see how small retailers are faring today. Today just so happens to be "Black Friday", the day the Christmas gift buying season begins in earnest.
The recession has pinched Fletcher's 1 Stop Record Distributors, too, which printed in-store fliers this year rather than paying for more-expensive ads.

The store, a 58-year-old institution on 75th Street on the South Side (now at 457 E. 75th St.), is offering sales on R&B, gospel and hip-hop CDs, but isn't counting on an influx of customers.

"People flock to the malls on the day after Thanksgiving, so it's not our biggest sales day," said Susan Fletcher-Mosley, whose parents "Fletch" and Rosetta started the business during the era of 45 rpm records.
"Our customers aren't necessarily mall dwellers. They either know what they want or they don't know and want to see the selection," Fletcher-Mosley said.

Fletcher's 1 Stop at one time distributed music to 200 stores, but that number has dropped to 25 to 30 now. The drastic changes in the music industry have prompted Fletcher-Mosley to create a new vision for the business, which she intends to unveil in the new year.
Read the whole thing. Also mentioned in this article is Guichard Gallery located near 35th and King Drive. they discuss doing business not only a "Black Friday" but in a recession as well.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy thanksgiving!!!


May we all have something to give thanks for today! Have a great one.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chicago-area jobless rate jumps to 10.4%

AP:
The jobless rate in the Chicago area rose to 10.4 percent in October.
...
Chicago's jobless rate includes the city, Naperville and Joliet.
Sorry for the two bleak stories I posted on Thanksgiving Eve, but those two items caught my attention this evening. Hopefully we can have something to give thanks for tomorrow in spite of all this bad news!

Two shot inside store in 79th Street

Location: 752 E 79th St, Chicago, IL 60619, USA
Well this news actually broke in the morning, but I haven't had the chance to post about it until just now. I'll just excerpt and link to two stories.

Photo from Chicago Breaking News (Tribune). Click on the photo to go directly to the posting:

Also from CBS 2:
A man and a woman were shot inside a South Side cell phone store Wednesday morning.

At about 11:15 a.m., an unknown gunman who was outside of the store in the 700 block of East 79th Street, shot into the store, injuring the two people, police News Affairs Officer Michael Fitzpatrick said.

Both victims were taken to John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County. No one was in custody as of 2:45 p.m. Fitzpatrick said.
The store in question is Total Cellular Solutions located at 752 E. 79th St.

Did you see this man on the train Tuesday?

John Arrington is a GOP (Republican) candidate for US Senate in 2010. He was spotted on the Dan Ryan L Tuesday morning getting on at 79th and then getting off at Garfield. If you want to know about his background he was formerly an Alderman in Harvey, Illinois.

If you see him in our community again let him know that you read The Sixth Ward, and that you heard about him from us!

Visit his campaign website @ http://www.arringtonforsenate.com/

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Shootout at Jim's Original on 95th

Location: 16 E 95th St, Chicago, IL 60619, USA
The good news about this is that they caught a suspect in this robbery. This was quite a brazen act right here. I hope you read the whole thing!
A masked man trying to rob a South Side hot dog stand apparently didn't see a Chicago police officer at another window and the two exchanged gunfire Monday afternoon.

The incident happened about 3 p.m. at Jim's Original hot dog stand, 16 E. 95th St., according to police.

A man wearing a ski mask walked up to a customer window on the east side of the building, showed a handgun and announced he was robbing the place, according to police.

A clerk there said, "Don't you see the police right there,'' and pointed to the west side of the building where the officer, who was coming back from court duty, was at another widow, according to police.

The clerk ducked while the robber fired a shot and the officer returned fire while around the other side of the building.

Youth program- A Ray of Hope Center of the Arts/ETA Creative Arts

I found this organization looking through my church bulletin. Unfortunately, they have closed out their recent performance but they have some performances coming up at the first of the year,

This organization works primarily with youth are interested in the performing arts but others are encouraged to participate. The organization states its mission is:
"Ray of Hope Center of the Arts is a teen-focused multi-cultural arts organization that creates innovative programs and delivers authentic performances filled with positive messages that uplift people while transforming lives through the use of visual, media, and performing arts."

For more information contact A Ray of Hope Center of the Arts

Also, ETA which has been the premier performing arts center in our community. The organization is currently in the middle of a capital campaign to expand and renovate the existing building. They also have programs for youth interested in the arts. A little known local actress named Jennifer Hudson got her big break there.

For more information contact ETA.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Chicago Tonight Urban Farms



Was this the Urban Farm that I had posted about over the summer? This segment aired on Chicago Tonight on November 19th although unfortunately there was mention of a farmer's market in Lincoln Park that has passed by the time this is published.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

UChicago students need help on study of Deneen Elementary

I got this e-mail today. Looking for parents of Deneen students, Deneen alumni, and people from the surrounding community.
Levois,

I saw your post on The Sixth Ward about neighborhood schools and was wondering if you know anything about Deneen Elementary? I along with 3 other members of my class are doing a school study on Deneen and trying to see how it functions in relation to parents and the surrounding community. Additionally, if you know anyone who is a parent of a Deneen student, we would love to get their perspective.

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide.

Maggie Claudy
University of Chicago
Urban Teacher Education Program

PS: I've attached a copy of our director's letter describing the project in more depth.
This student is working on a rough draft of their research paper right now, but needs any information provided to them before they have to turn in their final drafts by December 7th. Our contact e-mail as always is thesixthward [AT] 1chicago [DOT] net (please remember to change brackets with @ and the dot or period punctuation) but it's also in the sidebar, please respond by sending this blog via e-mail and any information you have for her will be forwarded to her!

EDIT: You can send comments to her directly @ DeneenStudy [AT] yahoo [DOT] com she is further seeking
In addition to the perspectives of parents with currently enrolled students, we're interested in hearing from former students, former or current teachers, anyone who has an opinion on Deneen.

We also welcome anonymous contributions.
Help a college student out! :P

OPEN BLOG: Gentrification

Been a while since I have done one of these. These "OPEN BLOGs" are basically for the purposes of debate, but without being leading (that is pointing the debate towards one direction and indicating a bias towards one position or another). I would like the readers who read this post to lead the debate and see the diversity of opinion. NOW onto the question.

I want to refer you to a post published here on March 23, 2008 entitled Wards to the wise. I basically excerpted a section of this post that talked about city wards but during the previous year's city elections. I copied the context of the 6th Ward, but for this post I wanted to focus on this comment:
What are people pissed about? This ward is a buffer between the middle-class neighborhoods to the east and the poverty-stricken wards to the west. Residents want development without encouraging gentrification.
QUESTION: Can there be revitalization or redevelopment without encouraging gentrification? Leave a comment, send an e-mail, or offer a tweet if you see this post on Twitter.

Another one bites the dust- King Bowl

It appears that the management of King Bowl have thrown in the towel and closed the doors. The bowling alley has been in this community for over 50 years and was once one of four. The four being Park Manor (75th Michigan), Stevenson (79Th Cottage Grove), King(80Th King Drive) and Starlite (87Th CottageGrove).

The bowling alley became African American owed in the late 1970's when the owners of Abernathy Cab Co.(now Jiffy) purchased it from George Cave. The bowling alley thrived during those times but fell off in the late 1990's when the popularity of the sport diminished and new modern bowling centers opened.

The bowling alley losed their liquor license and with that the major source of revenue "league bowling left to go to places that served alcohol. With no league bowling , no alcohol and no junior bowling program put the nail in the coffin for the bowling alley. They attempted to go after the group parties but that was not enough.

Hopefully, a well financed operator can come in and do the things necessary (modernization, friendly management, create safe environment) so it can reopen and if not it can be converted to something other than a church.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

ARCHIVED NEWS: Making It - The story of Chatham part 3

This one is entitled "Chatham invests in education:Parents believe that learning holds key to children's future Series". You can probably already tell what the point of this article is, education.

During the very brief life of this blog one of the many issues that was worth exploring was education especially in the public schools. My only frame of reference was attending neighborhood schools back in the day.

This story again focuses on the relationship between the black middle-class and black lower-class:
Emphasis on education in Chatham has been described as "almost ruthless." The Rev. Michael J. Nallen, pastor of St. Dorothy's Church, said education for Chathamites is "almost like a god."

The teens seemed to agree. All were planning on college, and on business or professional careers, from computer science to electrical engineering.

"The opportunities are out there," said Tonya Berry, 18. "If you know what you want to do in life, there shouldn't be anything there to stop you - whether you're black or purple or whatever. You just have to work hard at it, and believe in what you want to do."

"It's not going to be easy," said Kenneth D. Daniel, 16. "But I feel if I just stay determined and don't let bad times get the worst of me, with a lot of hard work, I can make it. A lot more doors are open. And I've found, over the years, that if I put my mind to most anything, I can get it accomplished."

"If I start out on the right foot, I can make it on my own," said Yvonne Cotton, 14.

"It's going to be really tough," said Darrin P. Golden, 16. "At school they tell me that with a college degree you still might end up working in a grocery store. But I plan to make a lot of money. And I know I can. Times have changed a lot, from what my elders tell me. I don't feel it's open. It's going to be a challenge for the rest of my life. But I'm sure I can make it."

"I can see myself making it in electronics," said Dan Hayes, 15. "If you believe you can make it, you can do it."

"It's like my father always tells me," said Arthur Fykes, 17. "If you want to do something, you can do it, no matter who's there to try to stop you. Just go ahead and do it."

"You don't have to work twice as hard," said Lloyd H. Rice, 16. "Because your parents have paved the way for you to get an education. My mother tells me how hard it was to strive for goals in the South and all that stuff. So I think it's easier now, because our parents paved the way."

"I expect to work twice as hard," Golden said. He split a grin and added, "That's because I plan to be twice as good."

In at least one sense, these are all typical children of Chatham's upwardly mobile middle class. All seven are students at Catholic or private high schools. And that's cause for concern in some quarters, on two counts.

Chatham's parents are supposed to be role models for poor black adults. But what about the children of the poor?

The original idea behind school integration was not to have black children going to school with white children. The idea was to have poor children going to school with middle-class children whose values would somehow rub off. And that won't happen in Chicago if middle-class black parents insist upon sending their children to middle-class schools, including public magnet schools.

There's also a question of how hard a new generation of Chatham parents will work to improve their community if they're not involved in the public schools.

The parents understand this. And they regret it, they'll tell you. But they will put their own children first. And that includes Chatham parents who teach in Chatham's own public schools (which are above average). They bus their children to elite institutions. "Parents will pay any price," Father Nallen said, "because they realize education is the key to upward mobility."
The article goes from education to eventually the issue of crime. You kind of see a very pro 2nd Amendment aspect of protecting Chatham from the criminal element here:
Chathamites cooperate fully with the police. But they're also prepared to defend themselves, if necessary. Clementine Skinner, a 70-year-old widow, recalled the days when the major South Side gangs were forming, in the early 1960s, and she said:

"They came into this area offering `protection.' People met them at their doors with pistols and said, `This is our protection. You come back here, and we'll blow your brains out.' So they left Chatham alone. And that was very early in the game. If you stand up to these characters, they're just chicken."
Some would not approve of this talk, of course this lady was talking about what happened in the 1960s and then the culture was a little different than it is now.

Towards the end the article turns to politics as it was back in 1986.
"Chatham was the base of the black independent political movement," said political strategist Don Rose. "The middle-class people who moved in were economically independent of the Chicago machine, and they were the first people to rebel against the old politics. They elected one of the first black independent aldermen, Bill Cousins, back in 1967, and their neighborhood council was one of the pillars of the civil rights movement. They're the heart and core of Harold Washington's support. They register and vote - with vigor."

"They're thinkers," Nallen said. "They're sophisticated and educated and they think for themselves. They may not vote for you. But they're going to vote for somebody. They're people who take their civic duty seriously."

The 6th Ward that includes Chatham gave Washington his biggest majority in 1983, said Ald. Eugene Sawyer. But you'll hear some pointed criticism of the mayor's performance. His links to influence peddler Clarence McClain, in particular, grate on Chatham's sense of middle-class respectability. ("Lie down with dogs and you get up with fleas," Skinner said.)

"This is a community that's clearly expressing its concern," Rose said. "But I don't think Harold has lost his support. I think you're getting sympathetic criticism. And people shouldn't confuse that with disaffection."
Read the whole thing! There's a lot of material here!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Shelter Deli sits vacant

Location: 605 E 87th St, Chicago, IL 60619, USA

It's been closed since September according to Worlee on a post over the The Sixth Ward Facebook Page. They made a mean corned beef and also was home to a lounge, unfortunately both are closed. There is a real estate sign in the window of this place. I didn't get close enough to read it, however, it may either be available to rent or up for sale.

The awning of this place is very tattered. Although who knows if it was the result of this place closing or it just wasn't maintained very well.

BTW, I found this article regarding one of the original owners of Shelter Deli/Lounge, Eunice Hamner. She passed away in March 2002. It gives a better history of this place and who used to run it. Of course the question is, what happened to this place that caused it to shut down.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Where's our TIF Funds?

In an article from the Chicago Reader
As I've explained many times, once a TIF district is created it essentially freezes the amount of tax revenue the schools, parks, county, and other taxing bodies get from it for up to 24 years. Any new revenue is diverted into the TIF fund, which is effectively controlled by the mayor with little oversight or transparency. Tax rates for the schools, parks, county, and other taxing bodies then have to be raised to compensate for the money pulled into the TIF accounts—thus producing a tax hike. Get it, Mayor Daley?

No? Here's another simple way to look at it: in each of the last several years the TIFs have collected about $500 million. That's money forked over by taxpayers on top of what they've paid to the city, county, schools, and parks.

Extending the life of a TIF district requires approval by the state legislature and the governor. Until last spring they'd never done it before in Chicago, though they've done it many times for suburban and downstate communities.

You'd hope that in these calamitous economic times, Governor Quinn, house speaker Michael Madigan, and senate president John Cullerton would feel compelled to hold hearings and engage in debate before effectively raising Chicagoans' property taxes. But you'd hope in vain.

Back on February 13, state rep Kevin Joyce introduced a bill to expand the kinds of materials open to the public under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. On April 3 that bill passed the house and was sent to the senate, where it sat in committee for weeks. Legislators tell me that during that time city lobbyists got in touch with their allies in the senate, and on May 18 Senator Don Harmon gutted the bill, removing the language about the FOIA and adding an amendment that extended the life of the four Chicago TIF districts: Madden/Wells, Roosevelt/Racine, Stony Island/Burnside, and Englewood Mall. None of these fall into Harmon's legislative district.

In Chatham  we have the 87th Street/Cottage Grove TIF that goes from 95th Cottage Grove to 71st Cottage and also includes portion of 79th street from King Drive to Cottage Grove. According to the Cook County Clerks Office approximately 45% of the tax dolllars generated go to the TIF.

Where are the improvements such as lights, sidewalks, etc? Show us the money!

Progress IL: Lyle Slams Proposed Wal-Mart Expansion

As part of a broader post regarding the activities of the Chicago City Council:
Later in the meeting, one of City Hall's most reliable critics of Wal-Mart's race to the bottom, Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th Ward), went toe-to-toe with Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Roper yesterday over the mega-retailer's push to open additional stores in Chicago. The common refrain from pro-business groups like the Chamber has been that the South Side is lucky to attract any new jobs in this economy and that the community is starved for low-cost retailers.

Lyle isn't so sure.  "We have been taught as a people in the past 20 or 30 years that we're just consumers and all we should be looking for is the lowest price. But we're not just consumers," she said. "We're citizens, we're parents, and hopefully, we're taxpayers ... While I want the lowest price, I don't want to do it at a cost of impoverishing my neighbor." 

Listen (you should be able to listen via Windows Media, Quicktime, or Real Player for example-Levois)

Lyle's remarks came after several other aldermen questioned Roper about Wal-Mart without bringing up the issue of wages.
After you listen to her audio comments, what do you think about her comments? Do you agree or disagree? Could a Wal-Mart only impoverish a neighbor?

Do we really care about education?

I attended my child's report pickup session today at Burnside Elementary . Based on conversations with several teachers about 50% of the parents attended. What was the attendance at the other neighborhood elementary schools?

Recently, we have had several CPS High Schools in the news, Fenger H.S.because parents were concerned about their children's safety and Robeson because of the number of pregnant/mothers female students.

In this report, there are nine CPS high schools on the list. How many parents came out and picked up their child's report card at these schools?

Worst Public High Schools in America

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chase Community Giving on Facebook

Chase N.A. is giving away $5 million to charities. The charities must be registered on Facebook to be eligible. The charities with the most votes will win awards. Individuals can vote up to 20 times. For more details go to

video

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Chicago Breaking News: Man critically hurt in shooting near Dan Ryan

Chicago Breaking News:
A 22-year-old man was shot and critically wounded tonight near the Dan Ryan Expressway, authorities said.

The victim was shot multiple times and suffered a graze wound to the head at about 9 p.m. near the intersection of 79th and State streets, fire officials said.

The man was taken to Stroger Hospital in critical condition, fire department spokesman Quention Curtis said.

FINALLY: Cook County commissioners vote to cut in half Stroger sales tax increase

Clout St:
Today's vote is the latest development in a political struggle between commissioners and Board President Todd Stroger, who pushed through a penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase last year. The unpopular tax hike pushed the sales tax rate to 10.25 percent in Chicago.

Stroger has vetoed past attempts this year by commissioners to cut or repeal the sales tax increase and was able to preserve the tax hike because the board could not muster the 14 votes required to overturn his veto.
But state law recently changed, allowing commissioners to override a Stroger veto with 11 votes. So if Stroger tries to block today's attempt to cut the sales tax, only 11 of 17 commissioners would have to band together to cut taxes.

Commissioner Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston, cobbled together today's bloc of 12 commissioners that backed the half-cent rollback by a margin that would withstand a veto effort. Suffredin voted for the tax increase last year. To see how they voted please click here.

Stroger has long maintained that rolling back the tax would decimate the county's public health care system, a claim his critics say does not square with reality.
Click here to see how county commissioners voted!

What is this Urban Gardening project the Alderman is talking about?

Recently in Alderman Lyle's monthly newsletter there was a reference to an urban gardening/aquaponics project she is working on bringing into the ward. Newsletter

There are currently several urban gardens in the city with the closest one to Chatham at Jackson Park. The Alderman has not released the details on the size of the project but here is a video of a project in Milwaukee which is the prototype they are following...



This project appears to be the cornerstone of a solution to several problems recently discussed in the community. The issue of "Food Desert", jobs, and economic development. Also, it will demonstrate to the "Green community" that this community is open to Green industry companies.

Monday, November 16, 2009

UPDATED: Michael Scott, school board president, committed suicide

UPDATE 8:14 PM Defender says that foul play was not ruled out in the death of Michael Scott:
Although the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office ruled Chicago Board of Education President Michael Scott’s death a suicide, the Chicago Police Department said too many loose ends need to be shored up before it reaches a conclusion.

Police Supt. Jody Weis said Scott’s body was found at approximately 3:20 a.m. Monday by police along the Chicago River embankment in the 300 block of North Orleans, shortly after his blue, 2-door Cadillac was found a few yards away. He suffered a single gunshot to the left side of the head.

“We know what the M.E. ruled, and it’s one piece to the puzzle. We’re still looking at lots of open-ended questions that need to be tightened up,” Weis said at a news conference Monday at police headquarters on 35th Street and Michigan Avenue.

Scott was partially in the water –– head and shoulders –– and a .380 caliber pistol was found underneath his body. No note was found at the scene, according to police.
UPDATE 4:18 PM According to Crain's Taking Names blog Michael Scott would have been an honoree at a charity fundraiser:
Stunned organizers of Life Directions, an organization that works with at-risk students in Chicago Public Schools, had planned to honor Mr. Scott with its Guiding Light award.

The event at the University of Chicago will instead serve as a eulogy of sorts, with a moment of silence for the man friends hailed for his dedication to their cause.


Organizers said Mr. Scott had indicated last week that he'd be attending and would have a table of 10 along with him. Event planners were still trying to determine who would receive the award on Mr. Scott's behalf.


The non-profit credits Mr. Scott with getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding over the years and bringing its work to the attention of Mayor Richard M. Daley.

 UPDATE 10:46 AM Earlier this Chicago Breaking News story reported that a body tentatively identified as Michael Scott, President of the Chicago Board of Education was found in the Chicago River. That story has been updated indicating that Scott shot himself in the head along the banks of the Chicago River near the Merchandise Mart. Sad and disturbing story!

AT 9:26 AM Tribune:
A body tentatively identified as Michael Scott, president of the Chicago Board of Education, was found in the Chicago River near the Merchandise Mart this morning, police sources said.

A blue Cadillac registered to Scott, 60, was found parked next to a trash bin yards away from the river.

A police spokesman said the identification was preliminary. The Cook County medical examiner's office has not yet positively identified the body.

Scott's family, concerned about his whereabouts, had contacted police Sunday night, reporting he was missing.

A member of Scott's family said he had visited his sister at a South Loop care facility on Sunday and was last seen about 6 p.m.

The relative said he visited his sister regularly on Sundays and described him as a creature of habit.

Police were called to the Chicago Apparel Center at 350 N. Orleans in the River North neighborhood about 3:15 a.m. and found the man in the water behind the building, off Kinzie, according to Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Hector Alfaro.

The Cadillac was found in a parking lot along the river. It was winched onto a tow truck about 6:30 a.m.

Man shot, then killed by hit-run vehicle

The beginning of the story...
Chicago police Sunday were continuing their search for the person who shot a convicted sex offender and struck him with a vehicle near a lounge in the city's Chatham neighborhood.

An autopsy Sunday showed that the man -- identified as Howard Hodges, 34 -- died from injuries caused by the vehicle, according to a spokesman for the Cook County medical examiner's office.

Two other men also were shot in the incident, which happened near 83rd Street and Vincennes Avenue. Those victims did not suffer life-threatening injuries, police said.

The full story is here at Chicago Breaking News.

There are plenty of comments

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Convenience Stores- Do we really need them

There was a post several weeks ago on this blog concerning a store named ANU Store located on 79th between Indiana and Prairie. I saw the outside and was not impressed with the handwritten sign and the potato chip racks at the door. Also, makes me wonder are they operating with all the necessary licenses. It appears it will be another place that we will have young people unnecessarily congregating.

Secondly, Fresh Mart Foods on 83rd King Drive. This store opened under a lot of controversy. The store was suppose to spur economic development and jobs in the community and referred to itself as a "grocery store. According to some residents and organizations this store was "greatly" needed.

Well, the facts are that only one job has been created. No other businesses want to locate near it. Crime has increased as the store has been burgularized 3 times and is on special attention from the 6Th district police district. Also, the store consistently closes early (4PM on Sunday) because of a lack of business. As well as the owners have been publicly threatened several times.

Also, a store on 75Th street has been mentioned. Do we need these problems in our community?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

And I almost forgot

In a flurry of posts for the past week or so I breezed by our two year anniversary here. The first post was on November 7, 2007. The blog was started with one main idea in mind to showcase what I would consider a unique part of our fair city, that is predominantly black and middle-class.

It seems that we're doing more than that. We have following the subjects of politics, development, crime, education, or policy to name a few issues. In recent months we tackled a subject I would refer to as "neighborhood building". Especially with our focus on the well-known Chatham neighborhood and do what we can to keep it a thriving community.

I hope we will continue and in addition being able to pay a visit to neighborhood events such as the re-opening of 75th Street after infrastructure work and the recent townhall meeting on Wal-Mart. Hopefully there will be a few others covered in the future of this blog. And I'm really look forward to next year's state elections.

BTW, I did note that Kari K. Steele is running for the Water Reclamation District. Short of an endorsement I wish her the best of luck and in spite of a recent comment blasting her for her family ties, at the very least she appears to be qualified for the task that she seeks. As stated earlier she was amongst the first in the community to reach out to this blog.

Finally, I want to note the reach of this blog. We're being read by important media organizations (hello Trib), and of course but local elected officials as well, such as Ald. Lyle who we should thank for her continued support.In addition our blog is seen in the blog feed over at The Capitol Fax blog and sometimes we get comments from around our state.

Hopefully the reach will be more localized as we continue to seek a critical mass of participation from community residents. We always like to see comments or even e-mails from the neighbors, but I also hope that you may connect with other neighbors and let them know that we're here. ;)

BTW, I also want to note our newest blogger, Worlee. His posts have been seen here for a while and not long before that he was merely a regular commenter, but he's definitely a valued blogger here. I hope we may have more from the community as well. Worlee also is responsible for the Facebook page Concerned Citizens of Chatham. I hope that if you're a member of Facebook already that you may join his page and consider the exchange occurring there already. You can join currently if you refer to our recently installed Wibiya toolbar.

Finally I want you to consider joining this blog's Facebook page. It's linked to the blog's Twitter account, and there have been some interesting exchanges there as well. If you're on Twitter or Facebook I hope you will consider joining those as well

And as always thanks for reading!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Gridiron


In Abbott Park where during the course of the football season the Harlan Falcons would play most of their football games. This isn't a particularly proper football field with markings and hashmarks but adequate if you don't feel like attending football games at any venue that requires some change to attend.

BTW, is there anyone out there who can tell me how Harlan did on the football field this year.

This pic was taken on Veteran's Day.

A Costco on 84th and King Drive

CAPCC blog writes:
Would you like to see a Costco come to Chatham at the now vacant lot at 84Th Street and King Drive where the land is fenced off where a Jewel-Osco once stood?
I've written about this site before and all that could be said is not if the Park Manor Christian Church has anything to say about it. They currently own the site, although it's great to see that someone is looking at other possibilities.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Job Opportunity-EOGP Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Program

EOGP Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Program

Pre2 Construction Program is 28-weeks of free professional pre-apprenticeship construction training:

Pre Apprentice Training; Dawson Technical Institute Construction Industry Training; Job readiness training, job and employment & placement


Recruitment sessions are held at 9:00am

845 W. 69th Street - First Floor Conference Room



Monday, November 16, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009



TO RESERVE YOUR RECRUITMENT SESSION CALL THE CHICAGO URBAN LEAGUE

773-602-3018

**You must pass math, team building, & physical fitness tests to be invited to attend an interview!



To Apply for the program you must bring:



· Proof of Household Income (2 recent pay stubs, Unemployment check, Social Security Award Letter, Food Stamp /TANF Award Letter)

· Proof of Address (i.e. utility bill, rent receipt, lease)

· Birth Certificate

· Social Security Card

· Proof of Selective Services (males age 18-24)


Ideal Candidate for the Program:



· Must have a High School Diploma or G.E.D.

· Age group of 23- 35

· Valid Driver's License

· No sexual or violent crimes accepted. (Must be released from supervision for three years.)

· Must be able to lift 75lbs.

· Must pass drug tests.

· Must be able to complete a physical fitness program.

U. S Census Job Opportunity

Taking A Count

On Friday November 13, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. the United States Census Office will be testing, recruiting, and interviewing for the a verity of positions with U.S. Census at the Coalition for Justice and Respect (CJR) office locates 1525 East 55th Street Suite 312, Chicago, ILIf you know anyone looking for work please have them arrive early to assure to be seen today.



Chicago 'stagnant' on job growth, earns low marks in study

Crain's:
The Chicago metropolitan area ranks No. 148 out of 200 U.S. metro areas in an annual report on the nation’s “best performing” cities.

The Milken Institute index ranks cities on their ability to create and sustain jobs and measures employment, salary growth and technology output. Chicago’s low rating reflects a lack of growth in salary and wages, as well as a decline in employment, said Kevin Klowden, managing economist at the Santa Monica-based research firm.


“ ‘Stagnation’ is a good word” to describe the city, Mr. Klowden said. “The city has been stagnant for a few years. Chicago isn’t seeing massive, horrible layoffs as other metros, but if you combine the performance of the last five years with the job losses from this past year, the city isn’t doing very well.” Unemployment in metropolitan Chicago has hovered around a level not seen in 26 years. In September, the local jobless rate rose to 10.1%, up from 9.6% the prior month and 6.2% in September 2008, based on figures released by the Illinois Department of Employment Security. This year’s peak was 11.3% in June, the highest since July 1983.
I think some re-evaluation of why this is the case has to go on here!

Local Holiday Food Options

The holidays are rapidly approaching and we have some local companies that can provide thiose Holidays treats.

Brown Sugar Bakery- Cakes, Pies, baked goods

Mama Pickys Chocolates- Candies, Chocalates, Sugar Free candies

Honey Baked Hams- 86th & Stony Island

There may be more and if you are aware, please let us know.

Followup to Walmart Meeting

Last Saturday at the Walmart meeting Alderman Howard Brookins Jr. stated that he has searched for available options to create jobs in his ward. Per Alderrman Brookins, Walmart was the only company willing to open up a store in his ward.

Today, Chicago Public Radio ran the following story
Food Options Coming to Bronzeville

The City of Chicago Community Development Commission is giving the green light on a project that would create food opportunities in Bronzeville. Bronzeville is one of several South Side communities that have been dubbed “food deserts” because of the lack of grocery options.

“Cuisine of the Diaspora” would bring 130 jobs to the neighborhood. This food desert community would also have casual dining options ranging from vegan to Jamaican. In addition the plans include a fresh produce store.

Bernard Loyd is the developer of this $8-million-dollar-plus project.

LOYD: Good food brings people together in a community. Good food creates a lot of jobs. Good food brings people into a community and good food allows a community to tell its story.

Loyd’s group plans to buy a city-owned parcel for $10,000. The city is giving the investors a $3 million grant in tax increment financing dollars. The land is at 51st between Prairie and Calumet. Loyd says groundbreaking will begin in 2010.

How did this get pass him?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's Veteran's Day


A quick shout-out to our Veteran's today. If your children are out of school on this day, let us remember why they have today off. Also a shout-out to currently serving men and women in our armed services.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Deal reportedly reached to avoid CTA fare hike

Greg Hinz:
Transit officials and Gov. Pat Quinn have reached agreement on a deal that will avoid a threatened Chicago Transit Authority fare hike, both in 2010 and 2011.

According to reliable sources, the deal involves the Regional Transportation Authority issuing bonds for capital projects that would be funneled to the CTA.  That would allow the CTA to shift some federal capital funds into its cash-short operating budget, thereby avoiding the necessity to hike fares.

As part of the deal, the state reportedly would help the CTA pay debt service on the RTA funds for at least a couple of years.  Other monies would go to Pace, which has had trouble financing its para-transit operation.

Sources said the deal is to be formally announced at a press conference featuring Mr. Quinn and transit leaders as soon as Wednesday afternoon.
That's all fine and good, but we really need to address the whole free rides for seniors deal. Things will turn around eventually especially this economy, but the long-term financial health of the CTA should continue to be at the top of the list. What can CTA afford and what can't CTA afford?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Well here's an account on the Wal-Mart forum

Via Examiner.com. And I did see this guy up front during the portion of the townhall on Saturday for questions and comments. Mr. Theodore Seals outright condemned Wal-Mart for not showing up at the townhall. While I may not use his strong language on this issue Wal-Mart and the PR people did make a mistake by not taking some time to come into the community to make their case.

For right now let's excerpt some of Mr. Seals thoughts from that afternoon:
The usually cordial, but occasionally stormy forum, held at St. James Lutheran Church, 8000 S. Michigan, also heard from  Rev. Booker Vance, from the Good Jobs Chicago coalition, and from Elce Redmond, from the South Austin Coalition, on the West Side, home of the only Walmart store currently within the city limits, as well as numerous comments from attendees in a forum best charcterized as split almost evenly between people sympathetic to Walmart, people hostile to it, and those on the fence.


   For those who want the Walmart store the case for Walmart is summed in one word:  jobs, some 400 to 500 of them.  For those against the store, the case against Walmart is summed up in one question:  at what price?
...
Ald. Brookins, speaking almost four times as long, because he was the only clear-cut Walmart supporter among the main speakers, spoke passionately of the economic desperation of his ward, aggravated by what he called "racist thinking" on the part of other major retailers he's tried to entice onto the open site at W. 83rd and Stewart.  He accused Whole Foods Market of refusing to come onto the South Side because it thinks, he claims, South Siders are not educated or sophisticated enough to appreciate its health conscious, organically grown products.  He accused Costco of simply refusing to even consider expanding to a South Side location.  He said Target refused to consider the site because it already has a store in its Chatham mall, between E. 85th and E. 87th. Sts., in Ald. Lyle's ward.
That portion in bold, heh, I definitely wasn't the only one who heard that. :P

Seals even noted that he was one of two who condemn Wal-Mart for failing to attend this townhall.

Still I want to write my own report and assuming Seals is a resident of Chatham, I think his blog, The Tedzone, should be added to the neighborhood blogroll.

BTW, read the whole accounting that quotes both Ald. Brookins and Ald. Lyle. Also refer to the listed reasons to support or to not support bring Wal-Mart into Chatham.

A follow-up on Whole Foods

To the post regarding Ald. Howard Brookins (21st Ward) talking to Whole Foods Market about coming to the Chatham Market shopping center to be one of the anchors in addition to Lowe's. Of course that other anchor is expected to be Wal-Mart since at this time they're the only ones who are willing to move in and build a store. But we all know that Wal-Mart is having a roadblock moment with it being bottled up in the city council's committee on finance.

Here was the question I asked Whole Foods. I'll be honest here when I say that I really danced around before I finally asked the question:
I write for a blog called The Sixth Ward emanating out of the south side of Chicago. I wrote a post about a recent community meeting to discuss a Wal-Mart store that has been bottled up on city council committee on 83rd and Stewart. At that meeting Whole Foods Market was mentioned as an anchor store at the 83rd & Stewart shopping center, but it was said the company turned down looking at that location due to the area not being educated enough. That is not enough advanced degrees and not enough data to indicate that the area would know the benefits of buying organic foods. The question is how does Whole Foods arrive at making a decision of where to place a store? Do you look at educational attainment? Are there any other factors? BTW, you should know that I have already places a store request for the area codes of 60620 and 60619. I look forward to your response and thank you in advance for your time.
In any event I would have expected days to go by or even weeks, but I have to hand it to Whole Foods they answered today!
Hello Levois,

Thank you for your email. One of the things we look for when finding new locations is a large number of college educated residents. That is, however, one small part of the overall equation. For more specific information, please visit the real estate section of our website. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/company/realestate.php

We hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions please use our on-line response form.

Best regards,

Jessie
You should refer to that real estate site to see what it may take for them to consider taking up shop in any community. In any case they do look at education according to them it's only a small part of what they look for in a new location for their stores.

Finally I want to refer to Worlee's comment in that Whole Foods post:
Yes I believe he has approached a number of companies and they have said no. But I believe that some would come with some aggresive grassroots marketing( i.e. neighborhood video, CBO brochures, etc).

I don't believe that Whole Foods and Costco were that unwilling to entertain a store in our community because the facts speak for themselves. Home Depot on 87th is in the top 10% based on revenue. Chatham 14 is the number 2 movie theater, Target on Cottage is a top 10% revenue store. Also, as far as Costco our neighborhood demographics are not that much different than Bedford Park and Niles.

In all fairness to Whole Foods I believe they did pass not because of demographics but because they have supporters in Hyde Park who are aggressively lobbying for them to come. Also, the large number of fast food stores (5 McDonalds in a 5 mile radius, 2 Burger Kings, 2 White castles, etc.).
OK, it took some prodding to get Target to open a store on 87th and Cottage Grove. They weren't convinced that there was any money to be made here. Of course before Target opened there was already a Home Depot, Toys R Us, and a Jewel to name a few large stores already here before Fall 2002.

As for grassroots marketing, I suppose Worlee is right. Perhaps Chatham should do what it can to at least find another grocery store to compete with that Jewel. Brookins said himself that he doesn't like that Jewel on 87th and I never entirely got the reasoning other than I suppose poor customer service or poor management. Either way the beauty of capitalism is competition there should be other players in this market. Jewel, Food 4 Less, Pete's Produce, Wal-Mart Supercenter, Chatham Food Market, or even Aldi's.

Anyway the idea of grassroots marketing is one reason I started this blog going on two years ago. Although I feel as if this blog is a long way from a marketing tool we can certainly bring attention to an area that is predominantly black and middle-class.

As for Whole Foods the main thing we can do as a community is to request another store to come to this area. And why not, they may not be another anchor at Chatham Market but we can have another chain come down and introduce our area to organic products. That's why I suggested that we find a way to get into contact with Whole Foods to let them know (and we could reach across to the 21st Ward) that we would like a Whole Foods here. It couldn't hurt!

PS - Still working on that post regarding Saturday's Wal-Mart townhall meeting.

County board president's race 2010

Read this post at the Capitol Fax. Danny Davis drops out of the race to run for re-election to his west side 7th Congressional District. He does so because he and three other blacks would have been competing for the same base, Black voters. However Rich Miller reports that black candidates for county board president could wither away by one more, especially if rumors are true that Todd Stroger's petitions are bad!

Man riding in vehicle critically wounded in shooting

Tribune:
Shots were fired about 11:30 p.m.in the 6700 block of South Perry Avenue, said Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Hector Alfaro. When police arrived, they found a man in a vehicle who had been shot multiple times, Alfaro said.

The man, described as in his 30s, was shot in the back and both legs, Alfaro said.

He was taken to Stroger Hospital in critical condition.

The circumstances behind the shooting are unknown, Alfaro said.
Found thru the 6th Ward EveryBlock feed.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Quinn sets stage for sales tax rollback

There are probably going to be a lot of happy people in the suburbs since the law that reduces the number of votes on a county board veto override has finally been signed into law:
Gov. Quinn signed into law Saturday a measure that slices away some of Cook County Board President Todd Stroger's authority and sets the stage for county commissioners to slash a controversial sales tax increase as the 2010 elections loom.

The new law, effective immediately, makes it easier for commissioners to override the board president's veto. Until Saturday, the 17-member board needed a four-fifths majority, or 14 votes, to override a veto. The new law requires only a three-fifths majority -- 11 votes.

Quinn told reporters the law is "fair" and brings Cook County government in line with the Illinois Legislature and other governing bodies across the country.

Under the old rules, Stroger on three occasions vetoed attempts by commissioners to roll back a penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase -- one that pushed Chicago's overall sales tax to 10.25 percent, the nation's highest. But commissioners were unable to muster a four-fifths majority to override the vetoes.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Whole Foods says we're not educated enough for them???

Expect a more extensive account of today's Wal-Mart townhall in the near future. This was one point heard that I want to address.

Ald. Howard Brookins was there today along with his friend and neighboring Alderman (well our very own) Freddrenna Lyle. Basically he discussed all the companies that he approached about opening another anchor store at Chatham Market. He went through a decent gamut Whole Foods, Target, Kohl's, Meijer, Costco, etc.

In his account today, Ald. Brookins was very reluctant to talk to Wal-Mart, however, they were the most likely to come into this area and build a store. They could be the other anchor along with Lowe's at Chatham Market and really get things going at this largely vacant shopping center. Unfortunately as of now there isn't movement on this issue since it appears to be bottled up in the city's Committee on Finance.

As for the title of this post, well that's according to Brookins. If someone from Whole Foods actually said that then I think they may have missed a great opportunity to introduce south side residents to their organic products. It's a shame too since generally they're considered a great company to work for. Especially since there are many who don't feel the same about Wal-Mart.

If you've paid attention to the health care debate you might have heard something about their John Mackey's (Whole Foods CEO) position on health care reform. He has his own solution that has left him at odds with his more "progressive" customers with them threatening to boycott his stores.

Anyway during the course of this blog, I always scoped out other grocery stores that we could bring into this community fresh produce. Especially for the corner of 87th and King Drive that was once home to a black owned grocer, Food Basket. Whole Foods probably could be one good candidate to come to our community, but it's unfortunate that they may not open a "beach head" into a community that may have a need for organic foods.

But I'll tell you what. The CEO of that company John Mackey has a blog. You can talk directly to him in the comments of those posts and let them know that the south side wants in on a Whole Foods. They may have missed out on a spot at Chatham Market, but somewhere they can build a store in an under-served community. An under-served community hopefully will be very receptive to not only getting fresh produce, but also organic foods which is believed to be much healthier than any produce that has been chemically treated.

LET MACKEY KNOW!!!

REMINDER: Wal-Mart townhall meeting hosted by the Greater Chatham Alliance

That's tomorrow at the St. James Lutheran Church @ 8000 S. Michigan Ave between 12 Noon -1:30 PM. Here's the flyer embedded below!

Soul Vegetarian Restaurant creates Feed the People Program campaign for 350's Oct. 24 International Day of Climate Action

This is dated but we feel we need to salute one of our local restaurants for their efforts. This article appeared in Chicago Now.
On Saturday, Oct. 24, at 1 p.m., the Feed the People Program campaign will be visiting Higgins Grammar School on 11710 S. Morgan St., on Chicago's South Side. The purpose of the event is threefold--to promote veganism by distributing free, hot vegan meals; to encourage anti-violence from dietary consumption; and to bring awareness to the environmental crisis. October 24 is also 350.org's International Day of Climate Action, with 181 countries creating 4,500 events bringing environmental awareness.

The South Side Chicago campaign with Soul Vegetarian Restaurant was created by Zarakyah Ben Ahmadiel, Chairman of RBG (Red, Black, Green) Environmental Restoration Agency, with the help of Soul Vegetarian Restaurant and the Office of Environmental Affairs for the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem. Soul Vegetarian Restaurant is located at 205 E. 75th St.

Special appearances and performances include GOOD Music's Grammy Award winning artists Malik Yusef and J. Ivy, Chicago emcee Mikkey Halsted, music by Soul Selector DJ Lee Farmer and other poets, singers and music professionals. Ahmadiel and Fred Hampton Jr., the Chairman of Prisoners of Consciousness Committee, will be at the location supporting veganism, but there will be no speeches.

"The event is designed so as not to be imposing," Ahmadiel said. "We don't want people to think they have to come and listen to me talk to eat. But the beautiful thing about black people and food is conversations ensue nonetheless."

The Feed the People Program campaign also plans to promote anti-violence through dietary behavior and is purposely being held at Higgins Grammar School, only one mile from Fenger High School where recently murdered Chicago student Derrion Albert attended.

"There are a number of connections between veganism and diet with adverse behaviors," Ahmadiel said. "One very under-reported aspect of the environmental crisis, whether it be resource scarcity or global warming, is the deterioration of the system on the Earth in these communities. Many studies have shown that it is usually low-income, people of color, whether it be in Chicago, Brazil, Darfur, that are the first to feel the effects of our resource scarcity. Poverty comes out of the largest sense of capitalism--less to consume, less to distribute, and those who are already poor are left to hopelessness and helplessness and recklessness, and that cycle descends further down to our children who act that behavior out."

According to the United States Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Services, "research shows that students who eat breakfast at school have increased standardized achievement test scores, improved attendance and reduced tardiness. Other research shows that students who eat breakfast have improved academic, behavioral and emotional functioning."

These NSLP lunches and SBP breakfasts meet the national nutrition standards and comply with the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These meals include vegan items, such as grains like rice, potato soup, wheat toast and oatmeal; fruits like apples, pears and peaches; juices like grapefruit juice and orange juice; and vegetables like green beans and baby carrots.

The Feed the People Program campaign will offer the BBQ delight made out of wheat flower, collard greens, vegetarian macaroni cheese made with soy cheese, vegetarian lasagna, raw kale salad, bean curd salad, BBQ tofu, veggie burgers and jerk wraps.

And for those who want to take their diet a step further with veganism, students and parents, South Side vegetarian restaurants Soul Vegetarian Restaurant, Quench and Vegetarian Life sell vegetarian and vegan meals. Vegetarian food is also prepackaged in various whole food stores and neighborhood locations like Southtown Health Foods located at 2100 W. 95th St., and Elnora's Health Unlimited located at 10844 S. Halsted St.

"We'll soon be available in Jewel, the whole chain of Jewel Osco stores," Ahmadiel said. "But the thing about vegetarianism is you don't have to go out of your scope. If you just cut back on meat, you automatically have a vegetarian meal. [The Feed the People Program] will give me the opportunity to introduce the conversation to some of the people who aren't accustomed to it. I'll be able to direct them to immediate resources."

The Feed the People Program campaign is funded by the RBG Environmental Restoration Agency and will last approximately two to three hours.