Monday, July 25, 2016

Chatham hit hard by the storm

So we had a strong, though brief, storm last night (Sunday July 24).

As I was going through the neighborhood, I noticed that Chatham got hit pretty hard. In particular for the streets of Indiana, Wabash, and along 80th, 81st, and 82nd.

Some of it seems to be due to termites and other bugs, which have rotted away several branches (see the photos).

The damage has been so severe in some places that roads have been closed.

Do you have any stories or photos? Please share!

Or any thoughts on how we can minimize damage for the next time?

Indiana and Wabash streets closed south of 80th

We wanted to let you know ASAP that streets such as Indiana and Wabash are closed, starting at 80th and going south.

We'll write more about some the details, how last nights storm "tore up" some of our streets.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Marathon Pundit: Abandoned homes of Chicago's violent Roseland neighborhood and my look back

"Once a bustling retail side street, 112th Street sits forlorn."
 John Ruberry's post exploring the Roseland neighborhood had been published on Monday night. I'm sorry it was never shared until now. I had been out of town and all I had was a pair of mobile devices (a tablet & smartphone) to stay connected to the web.

Anyway the Marathon Pundit had been doing some urban exploring around the Chicago area this year. Some of those posts were shared here especially Englewood, Auburn Gresham, and more recently Pullman. Of course he shares some personal anecdotes about some of those places and Roseland was no different.

Ruberry has some connection to Roseland his family left that neighborhood in the 1960s. He talks a lot about "white flight" and "blockbusting". He relates stories of Black children chasing around white children. Of course there's more to discuss from this period in addition to what happened after white flight ended. That is how this area turned out 50 or so years later.

Because Ruberry is Irish and has been documenting various parts of Chicago that are predominantly Black. He always notes the situations he has been in. He gets confronted by people in these neighborhoods. He always notes that he has a plan for these situations.

In my case I'v done my own urban exploring. Look no further than our instagram account where I've shared shots of Pullman and Roseland. And I'd be concerned about running into someone who decides that I took a pic of them and decides to object. Marathon Pundit is brave for what he is doing and sharing this with the rest of the world.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

SCam season again in Chatham!

It's that time again. Scammers are hitting our neighborhood. We last posted this 6 years ago.

Today, they hit the 7900=8100 blocks of South Calumet a few minutes ago. 2 women and a man, with orange jackets, individually going door to door They are asking to see/get your electric and gas bills, and claiming they can remove some charges.

Unfortunately, I wasn't thinking fast enough to take photos... but if you can describe them and the direction they are going, you can call 911 and they can send a patrol car.

Just some warnings/advice --

  • do NOT open the door -- use your screen door.

  • NEVER give them any info

  • Ask them about the last neighbor they talked to -- you will see if they are lying.. and if not, then call and verify with your neighbor! 
  • As soon as they leave, CALL or visit your neighbors! I was able to help one of mine with a quick text

Please forward  to social media and other community leaders. Thanks!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Greater Chatham Initiative

VIA The Chicago Neighborhood

I think it starts with a laudable goal:
Local officials [June 29th] are kicking off a multi-year, $1.5-million-plus campaign to restore some of the glitz to Chatham, a once-prestigious African-American neighborhood that lately has been going through a difficult period.

The Greater Chatham Initiative—which will include Chatham, as well as the nearby Auburn Gresham, Greater Grand Crossing and Avalon neighborhoods—is designed to "set them on an upward path in the 21st century economy . . . enhance these communities as places of opportunity and choice," according to a statement released to me in advance.

The money will go into programs to rehab and sell now-troubled apartment buildings, attract middle-income homeowners and operate a new local workforce center that will train and place residents in existing jobs.
And two major Chicago politicians are backing this effort publicly:
Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago) Wednesday to announce an initiative to improve a handful of communities on the South Side, including Chatham, Auburn Gresham, Greater Grand Crossing and Avalon Park.

The two — joined by community leaders, aldermen and other partners — announced the launching of the Greater Chatham Initiative, a collaborative effort to strengthen those South Side communities.

They met at the Chatham Studio Movie Grill, 210 W. 87th St. The main focus of the initiative is to drive investment in those areas and generate neighborhood redevelopment and economic growth.
I've been somewhat interested in seeing what can be done to further invest in Chatham and here's hoping that in the next 5 years we will see some progress. I especially would look forward to seeing 79th Street spruced up in the future. It needs it and can be a wonderful commercial thoroughfare for the community.

One thing I would like to see is more entrepreneurship. Training the workforce is good, but anything to revitalize Chatham should involve entrepreneurs. Chatham has a strong history of that and is dotted throughout the community.

BTW, here's one opinion on this worth noting which is Worlee's through his Concerned Citizen's of Chatham.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Discussions on converting Metra Electric to a rapid transit line

Found this article via Sloopin that was published on June 24. There is official interest in turning the Metra Electric Line into a rapid transit service with more frequent trains.
A proposal to convert the Metra Electric District Line into a rapid-transit line with more frequent stops to serve the South Side and suburbs has drawn the interest of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has asked the head of the Regional Transportation Authority to facilitate discussion on the issue, RTA officials said.

During the transit agency's monthly board meeting Thursday, Chairman Kirk Dillard told a representative of a coalition of South Side and south suburban groups that Emanuel had reached out to him about the rapid-transit idea last month, and that talks had begun.

Dillard said he spoke with Metra Chairman Martin Oberman about the proposal Wednesday.

"The RTA is working with the CTA and Metra," Dillard said after the meeting. "We need to get a handle obviously on the finances, as well as ridership numbers historically in that area. We're in the preliminary fact-finding stages."
We've been hearing about grassroots proposals to turn the Metric Electric (aka IC line) into a rapid transit service as opposed to a commuter rail service. It even has two different color designations such as the Gray or Gold Line.

Question to ask here is how this could benefit the many communities on the far south side if there was more frequent service on the Metra Electric line if CTA institutes more frequent service? This could very much benefit the neighborhoods of Pullman, Roseland, West Pullman, South Shore, South Chicago and perhaps even the near suburbs of Riverdale. And hopefully wouldn't take as much time to institute as finally building the CTA Red Line extension from 95th to 130th Streets.

BTW, part of me wishes that instead of using those double decker Metra coaches prevalent on all Metra lines if only it was possible to turn this into a typical third rail service instead of overhead traction. Perhaps find a way to connect this to the L system at some point. Perhaps more express service for Metra Electric & South Shore riders coming from the south suburbs and Indiana

Better yet if only such service could exist along the Metra Electric's South Shore and South Chicago branch and it could be converted to a third rail service. I realize these are all questions of later study and probably won't be instituted immediately. Even the Yellow Line aka Skokie Swift had been in service years before it was converted to a third rail traction line.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Capitol Fax: Rauner briefly meets with protesters

[VIDEO] Over the recent weekend Gov. Bruce Rauner paid a visit to the Liberation Christian Center at 7400 S. Michigan. As you see in the above Sun-Times video his speech to the congregation there was met by protest outside of the church. He later met with select members of the protesters.

I only thought to post this story because Worlee did a post about this church in 2013. Of course it should be noted that it's unrelated to this recent news. But it came up for results you can see on this blog regarding popular posts here over the last 7 days. I wonder if Rauner's visit has people looking up any information about this church.

Crain's: Is Chicago about to lose another black-owned bank?

Via Crain's
More bad news from local lender Seaway Bank & Trust Company:
Seaway Bank & Trust is in the early stages of a capital-raising campaign that, if successful, could well threaten its status as the largest black-owned bank in the Midwest.

The South Side lender has suffered $16 million in total losses over the past five quarters ended March 31. Its capital is below the minimum needed for the bank to be deemed “adequately capitalized” by regulators. To prop it up and enable it to lend actively, Seaway is preparing to select an investment banker to raise what one source says would be more than $15 million in fresh capital.

In an email, a spokeswoman acknowledges the need for cash but won't comment on the amount sought. “Seaway is currently engaging investment bankers for a capital raise,” she says. “We remain committed to our mission and our markets.”

The bank also remains without a CEO since the departure in September of Darrell Jackson, who led Seaway for only a year before his exit. Executive Chairman Veranda Dickens, who has been in charge since the 2013 death of her husband, longtime Seaway owner and Chairman Jacoby Dickens, “is managing day-to-day operations of the bank,” the spokeswoman says. The CEO search “is ongoing and progressing well,” she adds.

Those optimistic words notwithstanding, Seaway has suffered quite a reversal of fortune in the 18 months since Dickens declared that the bank wouldn't need financial help. That came after high-priced consultants determined that the previous management team had made material accounting errors not in the bank's favor. After financials were restated for all of 2013 and half of 2014, a substantial loss was changed to a profit for 2014. Since then, however, losses have piled up, leaving Seaway with just $25 million in equity. At the end of 2014, when Dickens made her declaration, the bank's equity stood at $43 million
Seaway's closest competitor apparently is Urban Partnership Bank:
It's not assured that Seaway will be able to raise the money, especially when another South Side bank catering to African-Americans, Urban Partnership Bank, also is seeking more than $20 million in new equity.

UPB—already backed by banking giants JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs—is expected to seek the funds from a group of local and national banks. It's ahead of Seaway in terms of holding meetings with prospective investors and other preparations.

If other banks end up bailing out UPB, that could eliminate an important potential source of capital for Seaway.

And if Dickens does find help, the likelihood of keeping the bank in African-American hands may be remote. The amount of money Seaway needs likely will compel her to seek investors interested in preserving an important city lender regardless of their race.

Chicago has been losing black-owned banks, with two failing in recent years. Another on the verge of failure—South Side thrift Illinois Service Federal, formed during the Great Migration of blacks to Chicago from the South—recently was rescued with $9 million from a Ghanaian-American family.
I've attached a graphic regarding Seaway courtesy of Crain's.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

DNA Info: Put A Park, Not A Cell Tower, In Vacant Lot In Roseland, Residents Say

The pictures above were shot in April 2016 near 107th & King Drive of a vacant lot which as you see in the pic above is zoned for a cellphone tower. A group of Roseland activists want to see this turned into a park:
Members of the 9th Ward Greater Roseland Community Coalition said they fear the potential environmental and health threats the cell tower could bring to the empty lot at 107th Street between Vernon and Eberhart avenues.
The neighborhood coalition has been circulating petitions opposing the cellphone tower. Members said they want the land cleaned up and turned into a park and botanical garden.
Of course there's this:
The city did an environmental screen of the site in 2014 to identify any potential environmental concerns and said the site’s history of pollution doesn’t make it the best location for a garden.

"The site is listed as an abandoned service station, and available records identified several underground storage tank (UST) installations and removals dating back to 1953," a letter from Fleet Management to [9th ward Ald. Anthony] Beale reads. "In addition, at least three USTs were abandoned in place in 1984, and a demolition notice was issued in 1996. Although no releases have been reported for the Site, the majority of the USTs were removed or abandoned in the 1970s and early 1980s, prior to requirements to have spill protection, conduct confirmation sampling, or report releases."

The letter says that since there is no data available to confirm a release hasn't taken place, the tanks "present an environmental concern to the Site."

It was recommended that the site not be used as a community garden because there is “high potential for both current and historic USTs at the site.”

Bryant Payne, a spokesman for Beale, confirmed Friday that the land is contaminated and that before anything is built there, it would have to be cleaned up.
This is a nice lot that could see some use in the future. How successful will this group be in getting it cleaned up and hopefully a garden could be placed there instead of a cell tower?

Oh yeah a recent ig post about this lot below.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Lead testing at CPS

In light of recent social media and blog posts about maintenance issues and lead issues at city schools we now see stories about lead testing of drinking water. Of course in an earlier post about lead poisoning shared here on this blog it was over lead based paint in some older schools.

The Sun-Times and DNA Info shares articles on this and also a listing of those schools tested for lead via CPS. In addition at DNA Info you see a google map that show which schools have testing positive for lead and those that have tested negative.

Also, the lead poisoning testing was noted on Capitol Fax in a post on Thursday where north side legislators and educators invited Governor Rauner to tour a school. Unfortunately this invitation was noted as a "stunt".

Because there is still no budget from Springfield CPS can't say if they are going to have summer school this year also via Capitol Fax. We also see a further debate regarding charter schools or even newer charter or otherwise.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Yesterday on the Capitol Fax #notaprison

UPDATE June 7, 2016 11:48 AM: An update to this is seen on the Capitol Fax this morning one new pic of that classroom provided by a spokeswoman from CPS which is in better condition. Then from Kyle Hillman a more recent pic of the hallway which still doesn't look in that great of a condition. The pic of that classroom you see below was said to be from a DNA Info article from 2014 and we learn that CPS has a $3 billion deferred maintenance backlog.

It's been in the news that due to the current budget stalemate in Springfield, CPS may not open in September. You can follow a lot of the state budget news over at the Capitol Fax.

In the meanwhile CPS CEO Claypool took issue with Governor Rauner referring to Chicago Public Schools as crumbling prisons. I don't blame Forrest Claypool or any other figure named in that Capitol Fax post for sticking up for Chicago's schools. Unfortunately they are often maligned mostly for the right reasons and those students who attend public schools deserve to have someone lookout for them. It doesn't do them justice to be held hostage by a budget stalemate.

At that same time the Capitol Fax had another post regarding Claypool's comments. Rich Miller preferaced this post by saying the man with his own opinion - via this FB post - is no "Raunerite" but basically expresses his interest in fixing our neighborhood schools. I'll share a pic that makes the point of this pic look at teh state of disrepair.
Gale School - 1631 W Jonquil Terrace
This school is probably one example of many with issues of disrepair as the post noted lead paint peeling from the ceiling - this is a much older school. Also bad fire doors and broken fire alarms. Then what about services needed by students?
The school has been gutted by a funding formula CPS put in place. The school has no technology teachers, no librarians, after-school programs have been gutted and our social worker is hanging on by the grace of his nonprofit.

You know what they do get in Illinois Prisons? Library Services! Mental Health Services! Educational Services.
You see what happened there. What do CPS students get at this particular school versus what people who are incarcerated in prison gets? Then it goes further:
So yeah the Governor’s solution of REDUCING funds for CPS is madness, but what he said today wasn’t wrong. If Claypool doesn’t want his schools to be called worse than prisons… FIX THEM!

“Frankly, the Governor’s comments comparing Chicago schools to ‘crumbling prisons’ are disrespectful and beneath his office.” via Claypool.

You know what is really disrespectful and beneath (their) office? Allowing schools like this to happen, our Mayor owns this.
The next question is how many other schools have issues such as these. Not only a building in disrepair but not enough services educational or otherwise for students. I can believe that funding is an issue but that's certainly one one portion of many other issues in such a vast school district as CPS.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Marathon Pundit visits Pullman

Hotel Florence by John Ruberry
John Ruberry of Marathon Pundit takes a look at the Pullman neighborhood and any progress made on the national monument here. Ruberry doesn't have much faith that the federal government will make far more progress here than the state government had. The state actually owns the Hotel Florence that you see above which is waiting for a new use.

He goes through the history of this neighborhood and any governmental role in the future of this neighborhood. Including the purchase of select property such as the Pullman factory, adminstrative buildings and the clock tower. Those in addition to the Hotel Florence.

He also noted the Bernie Sanders signs throughout the neighborhood. Sanders back in March lost the Illinois Democratic presidential primary to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton but we see one strong enclave of Sanders supporters. I even noted a sign on our ig page.

Ruberry has some strong opinions on what's going on here. Anyone want to agree or disagree with the Marathon Pundit?