Thursday, February 24, 2022

Chicago Reader: A theft hidden in plain sight for decades

Question to ask as you read this how does land sale contracts lead to land theft?

The greater Englewood area has been subject to land theft for over 80 years. It’s apparent when you see boarded-up windows and overgrown weeds that cover the community. Empty houses abound, a legacy of the impact that racism has had on the area for years, vacant lots indicating opportunities withheld from aspiring Black homeowners. It’s a crime that Chicago’s Tonika Lewis Johnson, activist, artist, and the National Public Housing Museum’s 2021 resident Artist-as-Instigator, seeks to expose with her project Inequity for Sale.

“In my lifetime, I witnessed disparity get worse and worse in Englewood,” Johnson told me. “I wanted to visualize that by putting land markers in front of homes impacted by land sale contracts . . . over 200 houses sold under land sale contracts are now abandoned or just empty lots.”

Inequity for Sale aims to highlight the negative impact that land sale contracts have had on the greater Englewood area. After learning about the contracts at a community meeting hosted by the Resident Association of Greater Englewood (RAGE), a community-driven activist organization, Johnson became interested in the idea of visualizing the impact that land sale contracts had on the area through a public art project.

“The actual idea for Inequity for Sale was inspired by a 2019 Duke University report [The Plunder of Black Wealth in Chicago: New Findings on the Lasting Toll of Predatory Housing Contracts] that people forwarded to me,” says Johnson. “I linked up with Amber Hendley, one of the researchers on that report, and she gave our community members a map of all the homes sold in Englewood through land sale contracts, which prompted the idea.”

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

CBS Chicago: Cautionary tale after 'bump & run' auto theft

[VIDEO] This is really an old story, however, something else to look out for at a time when carjacking or perhaps even car thefts are on the rise. Be very careful when someone bumps into your car from behind, someone could get into your car and drive out while you check out the damage. This incident happened in the South Loop.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Chicago Mag: Will Lori Lightfoot Be One and Done?

 You might have seen this in Chicago Magazine recently.

Here's a brief excerpt.
After Lori Lightfoot won the 2019 mayoral runoff with 73 percent of the vote, an alderman commented, “Her support is a mile wide and an inch deep.” In other words, she was a candidate for a moment in which voters were fed up with corruption, but she didn’t have a base that would stick by her in a crisis.

That has turned out to be the most prescient assessment of Lightfoot’s political appeal. The world has changed a lot since her election. The COVID-19 pandemic is about to enter its third year, and the city is as violent as it’s been in a quarter century. Chicagoans are exhausted — with life, and with Lightfoot. According to an Ogden & Fry poll conducted for Fox 32 in November, 62 percent don’t believe she deserves reelection. Just a year before the election, Lightfoot looks in danger of becoming the first elected mayor in 40 years not to win a second term.

Lightfoot has been praised for leading the city through the pandemic and for investing in neglected neighborhoods, but crime is causing the city to turn against her. The year before she was elected, there were 547 homicides in Chicago; last year, the total topped 780, the most since the mid-1990s. In the summer of 2020, the Magnificent Mile was trashed and looted twice during protests against police brutality. Carjackings were up 43 percent in 2020, compared with the year before. “One of the major issues she ran on was she’s going to take control of the crime issue,” says Matthew Podgorski, who conducted the Ogden & Fry poll. But now 75 percent of voters disapprove of how she’s handling it.

Well we have another year before we vote for mayor, clerk, treasurer and the 50 members of the city council. Perhaps we'll know by fall if the Mayor decided to bow out after a term or run for re-election. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

WGN: Lightfoot focused on safer Chicago, reelection after 'relatively mild' COVID bout


[VIDEO] If you didn't know Mayor Lori Lightfoot earlier this month put out a tweet stating that she tested positive for coronavirus. WGN later caught up with her at Rainbow Beach as she talked about the issue of crime and her re-election in 2023. Believe it or not that's a year away.

Me personally I'd rather believe that she'd opt not to run for re-election however we shall see how the next few month shake out. Besides who knew that Mayor Rahm Emanuel by September 2018 would bow out of running for a third term as mayor in 2019.

What's also noted in this report is while she does have enough money for a potential re-election campaign it wasn't as good of a monetary haul as Mayor Emanuel as he geared up for re-election in 2015.

However, until the 2023 mayoral race we still have the issue of crime which was noted in the above report as she's point her finger at the Chief Judge of Cook County Timothy Evans as she wants to keep the most dangerous criminals at Cook County Jail.

She's also going to Washington, DC to meet with the Biden administration with regards to federal help for the crime issue in Chicago. Genuinely I'm glad the mayor is healthy and back to work. We also have a little bit more time until we know what her future political plans will be.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Who's running for Bobby Rush's seat

I've made some hay about Jahmal Cole and he doesn't mind saying that he was the first one to place his hat into the ring. Of course that was before Rep. Rush decided he wasn't running again.

I see on wikipedia and of course if you have any names that isn't in the picture feel free to share.

To start some names were through around in the news such as Ward 3 Ald. Pat Dowell who announced that she was pursuing this today. She also dropped out of the contest for yet another open seat for Illinois Secretary of State. 

Then other names that surprises me State Sen. Elgie Sims, Ward 6 Ald. Roderick Sawyer, Ward 8 Ald. Michelle Harris, former city treasurer Kurt Summers, or State Rep. Marcus Evans. Sims, Sawyer and Harris are names familiar to those who live in the 6th ward. It's interesting that they're looking into this open seat.

However this is a wide open contest and time will tell who might ultimately get the nod once the primary is over in June - don't forget the primary is on June 28, 2022 this year. Let's see how many of those names listed as potential challengers will contest for the Congressman's seat.

Here's a story about Rep. Bobby Rush's announcement regarding his retirement [VIDEO]

Oh wait, Ald. Sawyer was quoted in the above story from CBS 2 saying he's happy with where he is, however, admitted that he'd be lying if he said he wasn't interested. Another name is activist Ja'Mal Green and also Rush's son Flynn Rush - who's listed in the wikipedia article linked above.

CPS classes are cancelled on Wednesday

 Due to a surge in coronavirus cases and concerns over this Omicron variant Chicago teachers have opted to not report for work and CPS is forced to cancel classes on Wednesday. This was the result of a Chicago Teacher's Union vote on Tuesday evening.

If you're a parent of a CPS student, are you able to adjust to your children being at home at least through January 18 which is how long CPS teachers will refuse to work in person?

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Congressman Bobby Rush to retire

 This is huge news to start the new year 2022. It started breaking Monday afternoon and now that we have an open seat in the 1st Congressional District who else besides Jahmal Cole will go for this seat.

Also bear in mind primaries will be held in June 2022! 

Friday, December 31, 2021

Happy New Years

I think this is a good time to take a look at some stories that have broken over the course of this month and some others of note for the year.

Coronavirus is still a factor with this Omicron variant going around. On Dec. 30, Gov. J.B. Pritzker at a press update on the pandemic discusses responses to a rise in cases. The surge is said to be at levels not previously seen.

After the New Year the Mayor of Chicago has a vaccine mandate unveiled before Christmas if you want to go to the movies or eat at a restaurant for example. This is in response to a surge of coronavirus cases and this Omicron variant which the first case in Illinois earlier this month was discovered.

Just yesterday the mayor urged Chicagoans as we bring in the new year to "be smart" as coronavirus cases surge.

As was the case of end of the 2020 coronavirus has become one of the dominant issues of the year. However, we end the year with a demand for testing. Also be careful of what places offer testing as there are reports of hole in the wall testing sites.

Anyway I hope everyone brings in the New Year with the optimism that 2022 hopefully will bring. 2021 without a doubt has proven to be an interesting year.

Also bear in mind that next year is an election year. Nationally we shall see where Congress will sit as far as a "red wave". In our state all executive offices are up for election. Gov. Pritzker is running for re-election. The office of Secretary of State is an open seat since the incumbent Jesse White is stepping down after being in office after over two decades. The primary is in June so I hope anyone on this blog will get registered to vote.

I wish you all a Happy New Year and stay safe all! 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Block Club Chgo: State Says South Lakefront Dump Site Can Operate For Another Year As Army Corps Pursues Decades-Long Expansion

 Earlier in the fall I waded into the debate over a potential move by the Chicago Bears from Soldier Field. I suggested perhaps the Bears can build a new stadium at the former US Steel site "South Works" near 87th and the lakefront. Well here's some new news about this parcel which is still looking for solid development.

State environmental regulators allowed a lakefront dump for polluted sediment to continue operating for another year, as the federal government awaits the state’s decision on long-term plans to expand the facility.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency approved a water pollution permit Friday for a “dredged material disposal facility” neighboring Calumet Park at the mouth of the Calumet River.

The 43-acre site, operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, stores sediment dredged from the Calumet River and five other federally maintained waterways in the city. Its permit was approved Friday and expires Nov. 30.

The Army Corps partially shut down the dump earlier this year, after its prior water pollution permit expired May 31.

A public input process led to special conditions on the new permit. They include a requirement that the Army Corps study whether the site could introduce more mercury and other toxic chemical compounds into the local food web.

But even with special conditions, “it’s still a permit to allow some level of pollution in a community that’s already overburdened,” said Kiana Courtney, staff attorney for the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

Read more at Block Club Chicago

Saturday, December 11, 2021

#Tucker on the crime problem and the grinches who rob volunteers and burn down Christmas trees


[VIDEO] I'm sharing this segment from Tucker Carlson Tonight on FOX News with you today because the commentary you see by host Tucker Carlson discusses some local events that perhaps you missed. Most certainly I missed these events.

To bring home some of the points Carlson is discussing here is there needs to be a reckoning on the crime issue nationally. Certainly it's an issue not just in the city where last weekend a group of youths converged near Millennium Park to cause enough issues for the police to start making plans to address any future disturbances. Basically as a reaction problem as this issue has been going on for a while as this isn't the first time I wrote about youths coming to downtown to cause problems as theft, vandalism, or even just causing major disturbances.

So he starts off with attacks on Christmas trees because well tis the season. And the first thing he mentions was that a group of My Block My Hood My City volunteers were robbed putting up holiday decorations in the history south side Bronzeville neighborhood. 

BTW, if you don't want to listen to Carlson here's a story from CBS Chicago. According to the article this crime occurred at 48th & King Drive and part of a team of volunteers putting up Christmas decorations from  35th Street to 115th Street.

Friday, December 3, 2021

More remap news: what's going on with #Ward09

 I've been retweeting like crazy any news to be found on the ward remap. The main thing I found yesterday was that the Latino Caucus and a few other alderman went over to the City Clerk's office to file their own map. As you know the Dec. 1st deadline has passed and that should mean that in June - presumably during next year's primary elections that month - the city's voters will choose a map. That is except well negotiations continue and that might mean even though this deadline has passed city aldermen (or is it alderpersons I still hate that) could still vote on and approve a map for the next decade.

One of the people should be recognizable here, that's Ward 9 Alderman Anthony Beale. Another people with the Latino Caucus map is Ward 2 Alderman Brian Hopkins. Doing a quick Google search I see Ald. Beale's comments. The Latino Caucus Ward Remap is called the Chicago Coalition
Chicago Crusader talks about this:
Alderman Beale is Lightfoot’s biggest critic among the 20 Black aldermen. He broke with the Black Caucus this week after clashing with its chairman, Alderman Ervin, when talks involved removing the diverse and voter-rich Pullman neighborhood from Alderman Beale’s ward, which also includes the less affluent West Pullman and Roseland neighborhoods.

Before the Rules Committee canceled its plans to vote on the map, Alderman Beale, in an interview with WGN 720 Radio, said he was trying to enter a room where talks were being held when Alderman Ervin stopped him from entering.

“I was told that I could not go in the room with the Black Caucus by the chairman of the Black Caucus,” Alderman Beale said. “I know where that came from, and I know he’s doing that on behalf of the mayor because there are certain people in this process that are constantly trying to be heard.”

A critic of Mayor Lightfoot, Alderman Beale believes his ward is under attack.

When WGN 720 Radio asked him, “So, they’re trying to draw you out?” Alderman Beale responded, “Absolutely. They’re trying to take the Pullman area out of my community. They’re trying to take all the best housing stock out of my community and all these things were done without talking with me and working with me, and so I went and saw there was a coalition of people. And I went to join the coalition because I have to do what’s right for my community and fight for my community.”

In a brief interview with the Crusader, Beale reaffirmed his move to the Latino Caucus came when learned that he was being allegedly shut out of the remap talks by the Black Caucus.

“I knew I was being dismissed when I was being denied access by Ervin and the Rules Committee,” he said.

Sources confirmed to the Crusader that Beale found out that his ward was being redrawn when he was informed by Alderman Susan Sadowski Garza. Beale then went into the room and saw the Black Caucus ward remap that confirmed what he had been told.

I see the two conflicting maps over at Greg Hinz' column at Crain's and here are Hinz' thoughts:

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Ward remap news

 I would like to go more in depth but I share this to state that so far the city council has failed to agree on a map and next June voters would have to choose a map. Here's a very interesting development out of the remap that affects the far south side:

The city’s ward remap process was led by Ald. Michelle Harris (8th), chair of the Rules Committee, political insider and attorney Michael Kasper and the Aldermanic Black Caucus, whose members said they fielded feedback from alderpeople across the city.

The city’s map includes 16 majority Black wards, 14 majority Latino wards, one majority Asian ward and one “Black influence” ward that isn’t quite a majority — the 27th Ward.

Under the proposed map, indicted Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) would be drawn out of her Far South Side ward. The longtime alderwoman said she’ll likely retire rather than run for a new term under the proposed map, which would move the 34th Ward into parts of The Loop, West Loop and Near West Side.

The maps I've seen out there show that what used to be Ward 34 would be largely taken up by Ward 21 a seat held by Ald. Howard Brookins. Again this remap appears to be a test of wills between the Black Caucus and Hispanic Caucus of the Chicago City Council. Hispanic Caucus want a few more wards drawn in their favor while the Black Caucus is contesting this.

Here's a draft map that was seen at a meeting of the city council yesterday Dec. 1, 2021 the deadline for Alderman to approve a map before voters must do so. If you have difficulty seeing it click on the tweet to enlarge. Perhaps later on I can find a much better copy of this draft map.

It does appear what was Ward 34 would be taken up by the Ward 21 & 9.

Also I retweeted this yesterday Ald. Ray Lopez (Ward 15) doesn't seem that happy about this draft himself.

What are you thoughts on this remap? Excited about the opportunity to to vote on which city council ward represents you?

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Politico: The remap's clash of the Chicago caucuses

 As it turns out on this Thanksgiving Eve the December 1st deadline is just around the corner. So I'm copying a lot more than I would actually be comfortable with but here's what's written by Shia Kapos on the ward remap:

The Chicago City Council’s Black Caucus presented vague details of a redistricting map for the city’s 50 wards, though Ald. Jason Ervin was clear about wanting to keep a three-seat advantage over the Latino Caucus.

His caucus is calling for 18 majority-white wards, 17 Black wards (one less than there is now), 14 Latino wards (one more than there is now) and one Asian ward.

“We believe this number is appropriate and gives everyone the space needed to move this program forward,” Ervin, chair of the council’s Black Caucus, said at a press conference yesterday at the Harold Washington Cultural Center. He displayed a map that made sweeping generalizations about where Black and brown wards might be but didn’t show how individual wards might be drawn. Tribune’s John Byrne has a picture.

The boundary debate is ratcheting up the tensions between the two caucuses ahead of a Dec. 1 deadline for the City Council to approve a new ward map. If it's not nailed down by then, voters could get to decide in a referendum next year.

The Black Caucus’ proposal falls short for the Latino Caucus, which has presented a detailed citywide map that uses census data to create ward boundaries that account for the population increase among Latinos — which has surpassed Black population in Chicago.

“If this is something that the Black Caucus wants to use to start discussions, I can tell you that they’re off on the wrong foot,” Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th), head of the Council Latino Caucus said in the Sun-Times story by Rachel Hinton.

Points of contention are on the South and Southwest Side sides where there’s been a Black exodus while the Latino population has grown in areas such as Chicago Lawn, New City and Ashburn. The Latino Caucus is recommending 16 Black wards and 15 Latino wards.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called for the two caucuses to come to an agreement. “If they don’t reach a compromise, most of the members of the City Council are going to lose — most of them will lose, some won’t, but most of them will,” she said at an unrelated news conference. “Because, if they throw this to a referendum, anything is possible. They have to recognize the art of compromise.”

After December 1st, voters would get to decide the ward map that they want. I get a feeling there won't be a compromise hear and no real mayoral influence to get there. My prediction, but then again who knows.

Monday, November 22, 2021

The red line extensions funding from recent federal infrastructure bill

I'm sorry I missed this story about how the recent infrastructure bill which was signed by President Joe Biden into law would affect us in Illinois. Especially how it would affect the south side of Chicago, particularly this Red Line extension through Roseland into Altgeld Gardens.

From the Sun-Times:

President Joe Biden signed the historic $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law Monday, passing to Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot — at the White House for the ceremony — the massive job of spending the billions in new money flowing to the city and state in the next five years.

For the first time, there will be a dedicated funding stream in the form of grant programs to make all transit and commuter rail stations in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, a legislative victory for the champion of the measure, Iraq War vet and double amputee Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.

Based on interviews with Lightfoot and Pritzker, expansion of the CTA Red Line from 95th to 130th Street, speeding up lead water pipe removal and rebuilding portions of the Eisenhower Expressway through Chicago and nearby suburbs, the I-190 turnoff near O’Hare Airport and I-80 in Will County have emerged as among the priority projects to be bolstered by the federal spending.

The federal funding will speed up some projects already in the works — removing lead water pipes in Chicago — jumpstart transit and highway projects stalled for years — while helping to bankroll large scale electric vehicle charging networks throughout the state.

Public transit expansion, lead pipe removal, expanding broadband internet access and creating a new support system for electronic vehicles are at the top of Lightfoot’s list.

Lightfoot said there “definitely” will be federal money to expand the CTA Red Line from 95th Street to 130th, though she had no timetable yet for the project.

A spokeswoman for Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., said at the White House he handed a letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg urging him to support the Red Line South Side expansion to near the edge of the city.

“This transit desert disproportionately impacts Black residents, meaning that the early termination of the Red Line has considerable equity implications. This results in many of Chicago’s African American citizens literally being disconnected from the ‘mainland’ of the rest of the city. It reminds one of the ‘colony’ and the ‘motherland’ divides of a past time,” the Rush letter said.

Glad to see it's a priority for the mayor, however, no timeline yet to begin construction only that  the federal infrastructure money would be used to expand the red line. By expand hopefully she means starting construction, however, I want to see what else is out there by the mayor and governor regarding this extension,