Friday, June 29, 2012

REMINDER: GCA Q & A with Garry McCarthy tomorrow!

Analysis reveals hot spots for CTA-related crimes

Click image for larger resolution
If you want to see the full graphics which also includes points where the most crime is committed on the CTA bus system please click here! I was alerted to this graphic and an article about crime on CTA by a reader. This is another question to ask at the Greater Chatham Alliance's Q & A with Garry McCarthy coming this Saturday at St. Mark United Methodist Church.

Our neighborhood L stops represent 3 of the top 5 crime hotspots on the CTA L system. 95th is second followed by 69th at third and finally 79th at fourth. 87th Street according this article is listed at 10th. Here's more from a CTA customer who has to get on the train at 79th:
Mansu, a 62-year-old Morgan Park resident who did not want to give his last name, said he knew the 79th Street Red Line station that he uses is a trouble spot, although he didn't know it ranked No. 4 for crime in the Tribune analysis.

"I'm a senior, so they naturally prey on the elderly," said Mansu, who walks with the help of a cane and is ready to use it for self-defense, he added.

"I don't know whether anybody is watching all these cameras. And you cannot rely on a cop being on every corner," he said. "What has served me well is being observant and not being easily intimidated."
Another fact provided in another article:
The dynamics of riding public transit have changed. Not long ago, the most valuable items CTA riders carried onto buses and trains were backpacks and briefcases. Today many riders don't think twice about carrying a $600 phone onto the transit system and using it freely. Such confidence is good, according to police.

"That is a huge part of driving down the numbers of crimes" in recent months, said Capt. Thomas Lemmer, executive officer of the Police Department's public transportation section. "You want the community to be both safe in reality and to believe they are safe, because both feed off each other."

Meanwhile, despite many riders' belief that there is safety in numbers, most crimes on or near CTA property actually occur during the evening rush period when most commuters are riding the system, according to crime and ridership data.

But you're more likely as an individual to be a victim of CTA-related crime between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. During those hours, the crime rate is the highest in proportion to total riders. In fact, 2 a.m. is the most dangerous time to be on the CTA, coinciding with fewer police officers on patrol, the analysis found. 
What can be done to make CTA much safer in the future?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The spaces in between

[VIDEO] There is a contest organized by Place Making Chicago which allows any group to show how they have temporarily remade vacant space. We could be talking about an unoccupied building or a vacant lot. Do we have any entries from our part of town.

There are some lots I wish we could turn into something more production. My first thought was the site of the late Rhodes Theater, but we could also keep our eye on that squatter house we've been keeping our eye on located at 64 E. 95th Street.

Any other vacant spaces you wish to be remade into something more productive?

Hat-tip Gaper's Block.

Facebook Changes

Due to Facebook's new 'pay to promote posts' policy, only about 10% of people that 'like' a fan page will see the status updates.

In order to see our posts and notifications just click/hover over the 'Liked' button (beneath the cover photo, to the right) and activate the 'show in news feed' option. This will allow you to see all of our posts.

Please share this message wherever you can on Facebook! Thank You!

The Chicago Neighborhoods: Chatham & Englewood t-shirts now available!

Click image to go to the online store!
I noted when hearing that neighborhood t-shirts were available from them, certain neighborhoods that we know had been represented in a brand had yet to go on sale. Now they have such neighborhoods as Chatham, Englewood, and Greater Grand Crossing available!

Will you "represent your 'hood" with a t-shirt? Click here for the online store!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mary Mitchell: Fixing up 95th Street Station shows mayor gets it

Artist rendering of the new 95th Street L stop
One question when you read this excerpt of Mitchell's column. Do you agree?
What this project shows is that Mayor Emanuel gets it. When you are able to trounce every black candidate in a historic mayoral election, you owe the black community more than lofty platitudes. The south leg of the Red Line has long been the stepchild of CTA’s vast rail network.

This extensive project rewards a neglected community for its trust.

How did they come by the money to pay for this? It pays to have friends in high places.

Even though a transportation bill is limping along on a 90-day extension, Emanuel, working with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Sen. Dick Durbin, has managed to make transportation a priority.

“I believe this is essential for all the other economic opportunities that we have to have on the South Side,” Emanuel said, explaining his focus on the Red Line. “We cannot do it without having a mass transit system that can move people conveniently from home to work. I know it will be the gold standard of intermodal traffic.”
Read the whole thing!

Where are the Black urbanists?

Who says city aldermen or the mayor have the say over how our communities should look? So blogger Pete Sauders takes a look at this issue in two blog posts over at his blog The Corner Side Yard.
Looking at this graphic that was displayed in the third link, I do wonder where our various communities lie within those paradigms.
 What are your thoughts?

Hat-tips to Urbanophile & Curbed Chicago!

Ward Room: Chicago's Tweetiest Aldermen

Alderman Sawyer (@rodericktsawyer) ranks up there as a "tweetiest Alderman" according to the city politics blog at our local NBC affiliate. See where your Alderman ranks if at all!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ald. Brookins on CAN TV tomorrow

From a  recent post on Everyblock:

Ald. Howard Brookins, Jr. (21st Ward) will be the guest on this week's Political Forum, a live call-in program, this Wednesday at 7 p.m. on cable channel CAN TV21 and online at Would you like to ask Ald. Brookins about an issue in your neighborhood or your city? Just leave a comment on this post! You can also tune in and call in live to get you questions answered. For more information visit

You can follow the Everyblock discussion on this message here. Alderman Brookins was previously on CAN TV's Political Forum program on February 8 of this year.

50 Wards in 50 Weekdays: The sixth ward's turn...

CJ Whitney is a night nurse at a psychiatric hospital who had this to say about 79th Street. Especially the fact that Chatham is geographically divided when it comes to crime:
And that brings us to the other part of Whitney’s timing problem. He takes buses to his job at the hospital on the Near West Side. At night, the intervals between those buses are just too long, he says.

“I shouldn’t have to wait an hour from one connection to the next,” he says. “That’s very dangerous standing out on 79th Street waiting on a bus.”

Dangerous enough that someone might worry about getting robbed.

“I was robbed like that,” Whitney says. “I was just standing [at] the bus stop, waiting on the bus. Two guys walked up behind me, one had a gun. ‘Hey, empty your pockets.’ […] Showed me the gun, and the other guy just started going through my pockets. Took everything.”

When it comes to crime, he says Chatham is divided in half.

“Once you get [south of] 81st it gets real neighborly, real nice. But this area [we’re standing on 79th Street], no, it’s not safe,” Whitney says. “Once the sun goes down it’s not safe.”

His block, with lots of longtime, elderly neighbors, is in the area he considers safe. His bus stop is not.

That robbery happened about three years ago, when Whitney first moved to Chatham. Before then, he lived three years in the South Shore neighborhood, and before then, he was in Englewood. That’s where he grew up.
Worlee has noted a need to change the character of 79th Street which starts with better lighting.

You can read more about this project here!

Tribune: 4 hurt in Chatham extra alarm fire

[VIDEO] Worlee alerted us to this Tribune on his FB page this morning. The Sun-Times had reported on it as well. The video above is from WGN. Here's an excerpt from the Tribune write-up:
At least four people were injured and others were rescued down ladders when an extra-alarm blaze broke out at a courtyard apartment building in the Chatham neighborhood this morning, authorities say.

The fire started shortly after 5 a.m. in the building in the 700 block of East 82nd Street, possibly in a stairwell of the four-story building, and burned through the top floor, officials said.

The fire was quickly raised to a 3-11 alarm, the second of the early morning, and extra ambulances were called. The fire was struck out shortly before 7 a.m.
When firefighters pulled up, flames were shooting from third- and fourth-floor windows. Firefighters quickly raised ladders to rescue residents, he said.

"They had people hanging out the windows," Fire Chief Michael Fox told reporters. "And they had one person who already jumped into the alley." 
Worlee had also stated that no one was seriously hurt in this fire! Thank goodness!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sun-Times: City to revamp gun-control ordinance after loss in court

I'm going to guess the issue of guns will come up at this Q&A with police superintendent Garry McCarthy coming up next Saturday. He may be asked a question about this and perhaps other issues with regards to guns:
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to introduce a revised ordinance Wednesday barring anyone with a misdemeanor conviction for a violent crime within five years from obtaining a city gun permit.

The proposal is a reaction to a federal judge’s ruling Tuesday striking down part of the city’s 2010 firearm ordinance.

A section of the ordinance that barred anyone convicted “in any jurisdiction” of “unlawful use of a weapon that is a firearm” was unconstitutional, U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan found.

Der-Yeghiayan ruled in favor of a Chicago man who sued the city after he was denied a permit because of a misdemeanor unlawful use of a weapon conviction.

Unlawful use of a weapon involves possession of a gun—not firing a weapon.

Der-Yeghiayan said Shawn Gowder’s right to bear arms under the Second Amendment was violated when the city denied him a gun permit.

Gowder was convicted of unlawful use of a weapon in 1995. At the time, the charge was a felony but was downgraded to a misdemeanor after a 1999 Illinois Supreme Court decision.
Read the whole thing!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A response to the Red Line meeting at Kennedy King College...

That was held Thursday night it sent to us via e-mail!
Dear CTA Administration

I attended the CTA redline project meeting last yesterday at Kennedy King College. This message is for the CTA administration from the top down. The discussion about the contractors being allowed to knowingly practice discrimination and being awarded tax support projects, that a civil rights violation. This is a violation of human rights and civil rights and the contract can be voided and with any company that guilty of such violations.

The public office that states that contracts with a company that they knew practiced discrimination that deprives equal employment opportunities can be charged with conspiracy with the aiding an illegal act. Making such statements is a serious violation of civil rights of which is a blatant act of misconduct at the public's expense. There was misleading information being given by Mr. Claypool and Mr. Peterson. You both contradicted yourselves several times. I know that Mr Claypool was over the parks and our communities were underserved then and now, although there were new parks being built in other communities. We have received nothing but insidious misconduct that underserves the people on the SOUTHSIDE. There is no credibility from that public office administration.

The plan to shut down the redline, that will create chaos for the community. That we can't recover and that is too much to loses. The discussion of the plans that are in place with direct contact within the affected community is a continued practice of disrespectful misconduct. Any CTA jobs and training connections are the responsibility of all the public offices within the corridor that represent the communities. This includes community organizations that need the information to distribute within the community. The use of the media and churches are other way to actually convey what is needed from the CTA.

I would also like to know which CTA administrator take the bus from their homes to work every day. Bus are slower and become overcrowded and breakdown. This is not a plan, it's is a joke and a weak attempt to push a crappy after thought that is all wrong from the beginning. This going from bad to worse. The el makes fewer stops than buses do and they stop on blocks.

At this point from what was said at the meeting needs to be scrapped and re planned with qualified members from communities, and organizations that would represent the REAL interest of the public. I'm more than convinced that the CTA is continuously disrespecting our community and using the tax dollars that our communities contribute.

The other problems of the blatant acts of not complying with what was required that is for the benefit of the community is also a violation. Any public office that displays the arrogant blatant negative practices of violating rights can be subject to being force to comply through legal actions.

Cheryl Williams
Anyone else care to comment on the Red Line project? Send us a line or leave a comment here!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Is someone working on that squatter house?

Earlier this week, I saw some activity outside of this house that we've had our eye on since 2010 when then Ald. Freddrenna Lyle alerted residents of Roseland Heights about the squatters in this house. I've seen police activity here at least once during the intervening period. Then it was boarded up and used as a place to hang up posters. Then we saw Worlee get bold and not only take a front picture of this home, but also a pic in the backyard and seemed to have checked this property thoroughly.

So on Wednesday I saw a guy outside on a ladder. Not sure what he was doing but I made the assumption that he was installing new windows. On the left hand side of the house that window looks new and the other plywood you see on the right hand side was removed although as you see it had been reinstalled. Also the door was open and there were people just standing on the porch and out of the door to this place. When you think about it, there isn't much difference in the appearance of the windows from this pic taken back in January 2010

BTW, my attempt to take a picture of this activity was foiled by the traffic on 95th Street and the people who were standing around and the police who were taking some suspects into custody at the time I walked by this house.

The pic above I took today the pic below was what I took walking directly in front of this house.
So they've placed landscaping stones around the lawn. So someone it giving this place the care that's necessary. Hopefully someone serious has been able to take command of this place!

BTW, before Worlee's update was my update back in April with a picture at that time of this house. There are surely plenty of people who wishes to know what is the deal!

2 Charged With Beating, Robbing Elderly Man

The photos above are the suspects David Chambers and Freddie Hopson respectively. In this report from NBC Chicago:
Two men were charged Friday with the beating and robbery of an 86-year-old man in the lobby of his South Side apartment building.

David Chambers, 49, of the 6900 block of South Yale and Freddie Hopson, 45, of the 800 block of West 52nd Street were each charged with one count of robbery to a person over the age of 60.

The suspects are accused of violently robbing the elderly man around noon April 30 in the 600 block of East 69th Street as the senior entered his building.

"I picked up my bag and the next thing I knew I was being grabbed and kicked," the man told reporters.
Also it was noted:
Police said Chambers surrendered after seeing the surveillance video on television. Hopson was apprehended by a regional task force.

The men are expected in court.

It seems we can not be clear enough!

I was party to a "debate" between Worlee and two other people - BTW one of them have since deleted their comments - on the FB page recently. It was in relation to the news from Brooks College Prep High School where the principal had been reassigned from the school by CPS.

First and foremost let me be clear that The Sixth Ward blog has no affiliation with any political official. We're especially not affiliated at all with current 6th Ward Alderman Roderick Sawyer nor his predecessor current Cook County Judge Freddrenna Lyle. Effectively we don't represent anyone, just three citizens who utilize their voices for the community. As a matter of fact, one of the bloggers will in the near future find himself in the 9th Ward. So we'll have more territory to cover in the near future.

Also the only one at this blog who has journalistic training is JP Paulus. He's probably more the journalist than either Worlee or myself. Worlee often refers to himself as an opinionated loudmouth. I on the other hand consider myself a blogger and definitely not a trained journalist. My schtick definitely isn't to go out to find a story wherever it is. Whatever our backgrounds our primary goal here is to provide information. Sometimes we may editorialize but it's very important for you to know what's going on in our communities.

Let me also stress that whether from any of the bloggers or even any commenter, profanity is prohibited. We don't want discussions to go down a coarse road and also it's part of our moderating policy!

AGAIN it needs to be stressed that no blogger here at THIS BLOG has any affiliation whatsoever to any political official on any governmental level. We especially have no connection with either current 6th Ward Alderman Roderick Sawyer or his immediate predecessor current Cook County Judge Freddrenna Lyle.

Before you join either subscribe to THIS BLOG, join our FB page, or even follow us on Twitter @thesixthward we seek to make clear that we have no association with any political official. If that changes, expect there to be FULL disclosure to that!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ward Room: Alderman Calls for IDs, Cameras at Scrap Metal Recyclers

Courtesy of our local NBC affiliates Chicago Politics blog:
Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) said someone stole aluminum siding off his home just two weeks ago.

He responded by calling for a new ordinance that would require scrap metal businesses to get identification from people before they can sell.

"If there's no place for you to sell your wares, we hope that this will decrease the scourge of these people coming and just stealing indiscriminately from residents in our community," Ervin said Wednesday.

He said the ordinance would also require video cameras at scrap metal recyclers to help identify thieves.
Well, a lot of homes on the south side have also been affected by these metal thieves - enough to that these prevention tips have been circulated -  especially of those mailbox covers. Alderman Sawyer even put a statement out wanting stricter regulation of metal recyclers.

Just a quick note to the Ward Room Staff, the 28th Ward is a long way from the south side of town!

2nd CTA Red Line public meeting...

Will take place tonight
  • Thursday, June 21, 2012 Kennedy-King College Gymnasium*
    6343 S. Halsted
    Chicago, IL 60621
    Time: 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.
BTW, here's one account from this Monday's Red Line public meeting that took place at the South Shore Cultural center at 71st & South Shore Dr.

Feel free to offer us an accounting to what happened at either Monday's public meeting or the one to take place tonight. If you want us to withhold your identity it's no problem!

BTW, if you want more information here's a page provided by CTA!

EVENT: Q & A with Garry McCarthy June 30th, 2012

Click for larger resolution!
This year it will be held at St. Mark United Methodist Church @ 8441 South St. Lawrence Ave. Last year he couldn't attend the event that was to be held at Carter Templer this year however is a different story!

Bring your questions with you if you plan to attend!

A printable version is available below if you want to help get information out about this event!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tribune: CTA gets $20 million grant for project at 95th Street terminal

Train arrives at 95/Dan Ryan
This information is via Tribune transportation reporter Jon Hilkevitch's column:
The CTA plans to begin upgrading and expanding the Red Line's 95th Street terminal by 2014, although all the funding needed for the $140 million project has not yet been secured, officials said Tuesday.

Officials announced a $20 million federal grant to help overhaul the rail and bus terminal, which is the sixth-busiest station on the rail system and a transit gateway for about 20,000 daily commuters on the South Side and south suburbs.

The improvements are designed to reduce bus and pedestrian congestion while enhancing safety, speeding up arrivals and departures at the station and creating jobs, officials said. The CTA is in the early stages of planning and design, they added.

Construction details aren't set, but the agency will keep the station open during the project, CTA spokeswoman Molly Sullivan said.

The station work will follow a $425 million track-replacement project on the Dan Ryan branch of the Red Line that will require the shutdown for five months starting in May 2013 of the branch between 95th Street and the Cermak-Chinatown stop.
I sincerely hope they're also planning for the planned Red Line extension that will take CTA trains further south into Roseland and ultimately Altgeld Gardens.

Via Curbed Chicago!

Chicago funeral home director: 'These kids don't expect to live a full life'

Spencer Leak Sr, is dismayed by the many funerals he's had to handle for young homicide victims:
Business is disturbingly steady for Spencer Leak, Sr.

It’s not that he is unaccustomed to being busy. After all, he is a successful funeral home director with two locations and his family has been in the funeral business for almost 80 years.

It’s just that many of the people arriving for their “homegoing,” as the services often are called, are so young. Leak said he’s been doing upwards of 125 funerals a year for homicide victims, many of them young adults, some just teenagers, who are victims of the recent surge in violence rocking this city.

“These kids don’t expect to live a full life,” said Leak, a former executive director of the Cook County Department of Corrections. “You get about a thousand other kids who come to these funerals. They see how it’s celebrated and they think this is how I’ll be celebrated when I get shot.”
The article concludes with Mr. Leak referencing his background:
“If we don’t get these kids when they’re 7 or 8 years old, we’ll lose them,” he warned. “I used to get them at the jail at 17, and it was too late.”
Read the whole thing!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Austin Talks: Chicago State University campus coming to West Side

Looks like our neighborhood university will experience some growing pains in the near future:
Plans are underway for a Chicago State University campus on the West Side, but specific details about the project have yet to be released.

The extension school will be built thanks to a $40 million state grant spearheaded by then state Sen. Rickey Hendon (5th) and Sen. Kimberly Lightford (4th) in 2009.

Chicago State University is seeking proposals from qualified firms for a “market validation and financial feasibility study” for the West Side campus until June 26.

The proposals will help the school determine the best location for the campus and what courses and programs are in demand on the West Side.
Via Curbed Chicago!

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Chicago Neighborhoods is now offering t-shirts...

Now you can buy t-shirts for the various neighborhood brands created by artist Steve Shanabruch. Sadly the nice brand for the Chatham neighborhood is unavailable and I'm sure many of you who identify with Chatham will buy those shirts off the rack like gangbusters.

Other nearby neighborhoods have their "Chicago Neighborhoods" brand on sale such as Woodlawn, South Chicago, Roseland, Pullman, Beverly and Morgan Park.

People disagreed with the image used in the background for Englewood but most of these t-shirts emphasize the lettering of those brands not the background images. I'm sure there are those who would like to wear t-shirts to represent Englewood just as well.

Click the image at the top of this post to visit The Chicago Neighborhoods to see if your neighborhood is represented as a brand. Also let Shanabruch know that you want to represent your neighborhood with a t-shirt. Here's contact info below!
Finally my challenge still stands! Some of you out there are artists who could really utilize your their talents to show our communities in a positive light.

Hat-tip Chicagoist!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

It's farmers market time!

The information for south side area farmer's markets provided by Greater Chatham Alliance. They want to especially highlight those markets that allow for the usage of LINK cards:
  • Seaway Bank, 87th Street & Langley Ave., ––
    Wednesday: From July 25th to Sept. 26th, 9 am–
    2 pm. 

  • Hyde Park––53rd Street & Hyde Park Blvd.,
    Thursday: From June 7th to Oct. 25th, 7 am–1pm.
    Takes Link

  • Homegrown Bronzeville, 51st &
    Calumet––Sunday: From June 10th to Oct. 28th,
    9 am–1 pm. Takes Link

  • Pullman, 111th & Cottage
    Grove––Wednesday: From July 11th to Oct. 31st,
    7 am–12 pm., Takes Link

  • Beverly Area, 95th &
    Longwood–Sunday: From May 13th to Oct. 28th,
    7 am–1 pm, Takes Link

  • Call 311 for more.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Public meetings on red line south track renewal

This had been advertised on our FB and Worlee had posted this info to his blog so here it is on this blog:
  • Monday, June 18, 2012 South Shore Cultural Center*
    7059 S. South Shore Drive
    Chicago, IL 60649
    Time: 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 21, 2012 Kennedy-King College Gymnasium*
    6343 S. Halsted
    Chicago, IL 60621
    Time: 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.

*All facilities are accessible to people with disabilities.

Of course that isn't to say that people aren't sounding off about this project expected to start in May 2013:
“Folks from Altgeld Gardens could face three-hour trips to get to their jobs downtown,” said rider Michael Payne, in comments to the CTA’s board Wednesday.

He said a bus-dependent plan is fraught with problems in the event of accidents and the inevitable rush-hour traffic tie-ups.
 Also you can check out the Woodlawn Wonder's thoughts on this track repair project. Quick heads up, she's not very happy about it!

Hopefully the CTA will make as many adjustments as possible to ease the frustration of commuting with the Dan Ryan line out of action for 5 months!

Concerned Citizens of Chatham: What to do in Chatham this weekend?

Worlee provides three events to take place this weekend and it includes a shredding event at Urban Partnership Bank, a block party hosted by St. Mark's United Methodist Church, a community fit-fest held at Cole Park, and Real Men Cook located at the new Salvation Army Ray & Joan Croc Community Center located at 1250 W. 119th St.

Click through to Worlee's blog for all the details!

FOX Chicago: Man hospitalized after being pushed onto Red Line tracks

If you're waiting for a train be alert out there! One never knows what possesses anyone to push people onto the train tracks! This incident occurred on Wednesday!
About 8:10 a.m. at the Red Line station at 79th Street and the Dan Ryan, Linda Logan was waiting for her train downtown when she heard screaming from the southbound platform and saw a man lying on the tracks.

Among the screaming, she heard someone say, "Daddy, daddy!" And "People kept saying, ‘He pushed him, he pushed him,'" Logan said Thursday.

"We were horrified," she said. She said everyone was "standing there in horror" as the man lay on the tracks.

He was "knocked out" and unable to move after falling, she said, and were it not for the actions of some good Samaritans who pulled him up from the track level, she doesn't know what would have happened.

"That man could have been dead," Logan said.

Those who witnessed the incident said a homeless man pushed the other man onto the tracks, she said.

At 8:14 a.m. Wednesday, Chicago Fire Department paramedics took a man from the platform to St. Bernard Hospital, Fire Media Affairs Director Larry Langford said. He was taken via basic life support ambulance, so his injuries were not considered life-threatening.

CTA spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski said a rider fell onto the right-of-way from the southbound platform Wednesday morning. She had no details on how he fell, but noted there was no contact with a train or the third rail.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Second-Rate City? by Aaron M. Renn, City Journal Spring 2012

The Second-Rate City? by Aaron M. Renn, City Journal Spring 2012
Some of those challenges defy easy solutions: no government can conjure up a calling-card industry, and it isn’t obvious how Chicago could turn around the Midwest. Mayor Emanuel is hobbled by some of the deals of the past—the parking-meter lease, for example, and various union contracts that don’t expire until 2017 and that Daley signed to guarantee labor peace during the city’s failed Olympic bid.

But there’s a lot that Emanuel and Chicago can do, starting with facing the fiscal mess head-on. Emanuel has vowed to balance the budget without gimmicks. He cut spending in his 2012 budget by 5.4 percent. He wants to save money by letting private companies bid to provide city services. He’s found some small savings by better coordination with Cook County. Major surgery remains to be done, however, including a tough renegotiation of union contracts, merging some functions with county government, and some significant restructuring of certain agencies, such as the fire department. By far the most important item for both the city and state is pension reform for existing workers—a politically and legally challenging project, to say the least. To date, only limited reforms have passed: the state changed its retirement age, but only for new hires.

Next is to improve the business climate by reforming governance and rules. This includes curtailing aldermanic privilege, shrinking the overly large city council, and radically pruning regulations. Emanuel has already gotten some votes of confidence from the city’s business community, recently announcing business expansions with more than 8,000 jobs, though they’re mostly from big corporate players.

Chicago also needs something even harder to achieve: wholesale cultural change. It needs to end its obsession with being solely a global city, look for ways to reinvigorate its role as capital of the Midwest, and provide opportunities for its neglected middle and working classes, not just the elites. This means more focus on the basics of good governance and less focus on glamour. Chicago must also forge a culture of greater civic participation and debate. You can’t address your problems if everyone is terrified of stepping out of line and admitting that they exist. Here, at least, Emanuel can set the tone. In March, he publicly admitted that Chicago had suffered a “lost decade,” a promisingly candid assessment, and he has tapped former D.C. transportation chief Gabe Klein to run Chicago’s transportation department, rather than picking a Chicago insider. Continuing to welcome outsiders and dissident voices will help dilute the culture of clout.
Read the whole thing!

50 Wards: 17th Ward’s Mary Harris prays for Englewood comeback

I noted this series in a post from June 3, 2012. Yesterday, WBEZ talks to a 17th Ward resident Mary Harris about living in her community. She's seen all the changes and it went from good to bad and she still hopes for a comeback. And she's doing her part at least:
Her personal experiences with government have been less than satisfying. Harris says she tried to buy the empty lot next to her home, but when she asked the alderman for assistance, she never heard back.

“So what do I do?” she says. “For about 25 years I’ve been cleaning it. I lawn-mow it – my son, and…before him I did it. I keep it clean.”
Hmmmm, that quote makes you wonder? Is the Alderman blowing this lady off? Is there anything the city can do to place this property under her ownership?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

SBA Presents: Bonding Is Achievable Seminar for Contractors

SBAMetra demystify contracting at CSU daylong seminar
“Bonding Is Achievable” provides a workable roadmap to contracts, job creation
June 12, 2012 — For small and minority contractors, the ability to secure bonding is the missing link that locks them out of government contracts that could put them in the big leagues, according to Peter Gibbs, deputy director the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Surety Guarantees.
From 8:30 a.m. till 4:30 p.m., June 21, the U.S. Small Business Administration, Chicago State University and Metra hosts a joint seminar to expose small and minority contractors to the ins and outs of meeting requirements of securing government contracts.
“Bonding is achievable,” says Gibbs, host of a daylong summit to be held in the university’s fourth floor library sunroom, 9501 S. King Drive. “The federal government actually guarantees the bonds of small contractors who need a leg up to secure their first government contract. This seminar puts contractors in the same room as contracting experts who will walk through the details and responsibilities of securing a government contract.”
Bonding is the mechanism that lets customers know a company is trustworthy and worthy of being insured. Bonding signifies a company has the financial foundation to fulfill obligations of a construction job, such as pouring cement building bridges and creating bike/walking paths. Bonding goes along with licensing and insurance, both affirmations that a contractor knows his business responsibilities in addition to his craft.
Specifically, the seminar will:
·      provide information on SBA’s Surety Bond Programs
·      inform participants on bonding and lending requirements
·      provide information on SBA’s District Office resources
·      inform participants of the SBDC training opportunities
·      provide information on local procurement opportunities
·      help navigate represented procurement organizations
·      assist with improving the back office of contractors
·      track the participants to their first bond and beyond
“Small businesses need to figure this out now because local, state and federal agencies are gearing up for billions of dollars in infrastructure improvements,” Gibbs says. “Participating at this level sustains businesses and pumps jobs into the economy.”
Admission is $25 and includes lunch. For more information, call Wanda Wright at CSU’s Office of Community Relations at 773.995.2079.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Shooting in West Chesterfield...

This happened last night one of a series of gun violence episodes last night from around the city:
A man was also shot around 8 p.m. in the 8800 block of South Michigan Avenue, in the West Chesterfield neighborhood. A 33-year-old man was shot multiple times in the leg, and was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was reported in stable condition.
What is going on out there?

EDIT: For more info about the graphic in this post click here!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Man Tried To Abduct Girl, 12, At Red Line Station « CBS Chicago

The girl was waiting for a bus at the 79th Street Red Line station when the man called to her from his vehicle about 8:45 a.m. Friday, according to a community alert issued by Area South detectives.

She ignored him, but the man got out of his vehicle, grabbed her arm and tried to pull her into the vehicle, the alert said. He fled eastbound on 79th Street when a woman came to the girl’s aid.

The girl got on the bus with the woman’s help and later reported the incident to her mother, the alert said.

Police describe the would-be abductor as a black man between 20 and 29 years old, with a dark complexion and short hair, the alert said. He was wearing a black shirt, blue jeans and white shoes.

He was driving a black, newer-model vehicle with sliding side doors that police describe as a “caravan,” the alert said.
Have any information on this incident, please call Area South detectives at 312.747.8271!

Transit agency says drastic closure plan is only a first draft

There may be some tweaks to the alternate service plan for the closing of the Dan Ryan branch of the Red Line by May 2013. Transportation columnist Jon Hilkevitch says that the plans drawn up by CTA is inadequate and perhaps some service alternatives need to be covered with Metra!
After the $425 million Red Line track replacement project was unveiled last week, Getting Around asked the CTA and Metra how they are working together to enhance access and CTA connections to the nearby Metra Electric and Rock Island lines.

Metra has excess capacity, particularly on "the Rock," where more service could be added and CTA buses serving Western Avenue and Halsted Street would in many instances travel shorter distances to Metra stations than the miles they would log from the Red Line to the Green Line.

We also strongly advised the transit agencies and the Regional Transportation Authority that adopting a commuter-friendly integrated fare policy will be vital during the Red Line disruptions.

Metra and CTA have separate fare structures and distinct fare-collection procedures. The best path would be keeping it simple, such as allowing commuters who have Metra monthly passes to use them on CTA and Pace, and for CTA and Pace fare cards to be honored on Metra.

The RTA and the transit agencies could work among themselves to divvy up the fares collected.
It will be important to allow riders to transfer seamlessly between the CTA and Metra without being hassled about the different fares — a solution that has eluded (or been avoided by) the Chicago area's mass transit network for decades.

The RTA faces a Jan. 1 deadline to submit a fare-integration plan to the transit agencies for input, approval and implementation. The Illinois Legislature has set a 2015 deadline for the RTA system to implement common fare media, also known as a universal fare card, to be accepted by all three transit agencies.

To their credit last week, CTA officials quickly realized it will take time to get it all right, which is why they pushed for an initial meeting with Metra operations officials for this week, said CTA spokeswoman Molly Sullivan.
Would anyone utilize either the Metra Electric and Rock Island lines to get downtown when the Red Line is closed next May?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ugly Chicago: The Art of Squatting


Squatting is defined as to occupy illegally an empty, abandoned, or condemned house, building, apartment, etc. It is now a dangerous fad in Chicago and especially on the South and West side that has to stop. It has caused death of those who are squatters and those whose serve and protect. It was the report of squatters that sent Firefighters Edward Stringer and Corey Ankum inside a firey open vacant warehouse that ended their lives. Numerous fires,injuries and other crimes have been caused by squatters. The illegal utility connections, open fires harboring animals and no running water create unsafe situations While I understand the economic hardships a number of individuals have suffered, the hijacking of property cannot and should not be tolerated. The property pictured 66 E. 95th Street has been a problem plagued eyesore in the West Chesterfield community for sometime. The city of Chicago has boarded up this property numerous times and the Chicago Police Department has been called out numerous times to empty the property as well as break up fights between the squatters. Community residents have asked for the property to be demolished but the City of Chicago process prolongs what appears to be necessary. Both the former and current Alderman have asked the Chicago Police Department to place this property on special attention. My friends at The Sixth Ward Blog have been following this property for quite a while and it seems to get worse than better.

  Now it appears some unscrupulous individual has decided to rent the property to a family. They stated that they were going to fix the property up but all I saw was an abandon van with Wisconsin license plate #301-SCE parked in the back yard. Per public records the property has not changed hands so the statement is questionable at best. So hopefully, we do not have to walk or drive down 95th and see this eyesore because the City of Chicago will do what is necessary.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Crain's: How to interrupt Chicago's gangland violence

Click here for more information about this display
Gary Slutkin of Project Ceasefire authored this piece over at Crain's Chicago Business:
The Memorial Day surge of violence in Chicago has captured national attention. The coverage of events and our understanding of them, as with our understanding of violence itself, need to be updated.

As it turns out, violence behaves like an infectious disease, with violent thoughts and behaviors being transmissible. Several recent studies, including an Institute of Medicine workshop I helped plan and presented at earlier this year, confirms the contagious and epidemic nature of violence — including its propensity for clustering in hot spots, characteristics of how it spreads in many waves, and how one form of violence leads to many others.

The Memorial Day surge was a wave sitting on top of a wave that began last fall. This whole new wave, what we are experiencing now, sits on top of a previously declining wave that began in the late '90s, but has been dropping even further since 2004. As with other diseases, such as the flu causing more cases of the flu, violence leads to more violence, one wave into the next — unless new strategies are applied that specifically work to interrupt events.
After you read the whole piece, does anyone have any solutions to the violence? Also do you agree with Mr. Slutkin?

Tribune: Emanuel hails South Side produce bus

Is this one way to give low-income neighborhoods access to fresh produce?
A bus loaded with pears, asparagus and other fruits and vegetables soon will start rolling through South Side neighborhoods in a circuit Mayor Rahm Emanuel likened Friday to a healthy ice cream truck route.

The former CTA bus will join one already operating on the West Side by the nonprofit organization Fresh Moves. The group aims to bring healthier eats to Chicago's food deserts, areas lacking proper grocery stores with produce sections.

TheU.S. Department of Agriculture agreed to give Fresh Moves a $70,000 grant to renovate a second bus after the first one proved to be a hit, selling produce during regular appearances at pre-set locations, Emanuel said.

"We knew growing up, 4 o'clock on a Thursday at the playground, here comes the ice cream truck," Emanuel said. "You took that model, turned it upside down, right side up and made it part of healthy living."
The bus should start rolling around on the south side starting in September!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Chatham/Avalon Park Community Council: CAPCC & Walgreens Financial 4 Part Series

Chatham/Avalon Park Community Council: CAPCC & Walgreens Financial 4 Part Series

One of the days have already passed but there are three other days coming up!
Chatham Avalon Park Community Council & Walgreens Corporation & World Financial Group



A four part series

On the following dates:
  • WEDNESDAY, MAY 30, 2012
  • WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 2012
  • WEDNESDAY, JULY 11, 2012
  • WEDNESDAY, JULY 25, 2012
6:00PM UNTIL 7:30 PM


Crain's: Where Chicago's vacant homes are

I just wish there was a way to find more data about the vacancies in many of our south side communities:
Not surprisingly, South Side neighborhoods that have been hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis and recession have the highest concentration of vacant properties. North Side lakefront wards, including the 44th Ward in Lakeview, 48th Ward in Edgewater, and the 43rd Ward in Lincoln Park, were at the bottom of the list, each with fewer than 20 vacant buildings.

The data cover more than 6,000 vacant properties that were registered with the buildings department as of last month. Though homes account for most of the vacancies, the data also include commercial properties.
The neighboring 17th Ward with 358 eads the city with the number of vacancies. Another south side ward the 34th has 352 vacancies.

Solutions to this problem includes forcing mortgage companies to register properties under foreclosure and mortgage companies must also maintain these properties. Violators who fail to do so are fined. Another solution is a county "lank bank" that would purchase and sell vacant properties.

What do you think of those solutions? Are there any other ideas on the issue of vacant properties?

Hat-tip Curbed Chicago!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

City Stickers for Purchase at Alderman’s Office

City sticker sales at the 6th Ward Service Office on June 19th! Also refer to our calendar for other ward office sales in nearby wards! Information provided by Greater Chatham Alliance:

City Stickers for Purchase at Alderman’s Office

For sale in the 6th Ward: 10 am to 4 on Tuesday, June 19th

Money orders and checks are the preferred method of payment.

Alderman Roderick T. Sawyer 6th Ward Chicago Office
4631/2 East 83rd Street
Chicago Illinois 60619

Revenue from the City Vehicle Sticker helps fund the repair, maintenance and improvement of the more than 4,000 miles of Chicago's streets and roadways. City Vehicle Stickers are issued annually and are valid as soon as they are applied to the windshield.

In other words, as soon as you get your new City Vehicle Sticker, remove your old sticker and replace it with the new one. City Vehicle Stickers expire on June 30th of each year.

A Chicago resident with a vehicle that is used in the City of Chicago must purchase and display a City Vehicle Sticker.

In addition, you can purchase the stickers HERE–– online.


The cost of a passenger City Vehicle Sticker is $85 and larger passenger City Vehicle Stickers are $135.

Senior citizens, age 65 and older, are eligible to receive one sticker for $30.

Annual Residential Zone Parking is $25 and Daily Residential Parking Permits are $8 for 15 permits.

To purchase a City Vehicle Sticker, residents must bring their driver's license or renewal form and know their vehicle license plate number. In addition, this year's City Vehicle Stickers contain the vehicle make and model as another security feature.    

Joe Zekas R.I.P.

 Joe Zekas ran the real estate news website YoChicago . If you have been following that site and their social media channels i.e. YouTube o...