Wednesday, March 21, 2018

WBEZ: What’s A Democratic Ward Organization?

We just had an election yesterday and the day before WBEZ educates us on these fabled ward organizations. Of course to bring it down to reality your alderman may be a Democrat ward committeeman or woman - such as Ald. Roderick Sawyer (Ward 6), Ald. Michelle Harris (Ward 8), Ald. Anthony Beale (Ward 9), or Ald. Howard Brookins (Ward 21).

Another controversy to bring up is how they were able to appoint - not through a special election where the voters choose - representatives to the Illinois General Assembly for example. These organizations and the committeman who run them may not have the clout they did say during the 1960s, but they still have clout regardless.

Anyway, let's allow WBEZ to educate us
Each of Chicago’s 50 wards has a Democratic party representative called a ward committeeman or committeewoman. Elected every four years, they serve as the party’s link to the patchwork of neighborhoods and communities that makeup Chicago. In more than half of the city’s wards, the committeeman and the alderman are the same person.

“Just to open up our doors on election day, it costs you on average $10,000,” said Ald. Walter Burnett (27th Ward), speaking at a recent press conference to defend Pritzker’s gifts to ward organizations. The candidate gave Burnett’s own group $15,000 on March 5.

But Burnett said that’s nothing unusual and ward organizations need those donations from candidates to survive.

“You literally have to pay people to stand outside in the cold and pass out literature and convince people to vote,” he said. “Not one person is gonna be putting up a sign, not one person is going to be passing out literature for [a candidate] unless he’s paying them.”
Read the whole thing to know the history of these often little know elected offices. As you may or may not know each ward has not only Democratic committeemen they also have Republican committeeman (although for the most part in Chicago the Democrats are solidly the majority). Every year during a presidential election such as 2016 and we'll do it again in 2020 each of the 50 wards will elected a committeeman or committeewoman. As stated these positions don't have the clout they used to, but they're still very important!

Tribune: Ghost of old 'L' branch haunts the Obama center #63rdL

We've talked about this in the past. There is a group eliciting support for ultimately restoring Green Line service to Stony Island which used to be the terminal until 1982. Check out this map from showing the East 63rd branch.
So anyway a Tribune article revisits the closure and demolition of this line past the current Green Line terminal at Cottage Grove.
When the Obama Presidential Center opens in about three years, visitors can get to it by car, Metra, bike or bus, but not by that most iconic form of Chicago transportation — the “L.”

That’s because a Green Line branch that would have led right to the center was torn down in 1997, after some community leaders complained that it was hurting development.

It is one of those Chicago decisions — like the selling of the city’s parking meter franchise — that leaves posterity scratching its head.

“It would have been so great … ” said Arthur Lyons, director of the Center for Economic Policy Analysis, which had done research in support of keeping the branch. “It was always our view that it would have helped development in that corridor.”
Let us continue how this came to be got more interesting:

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

You are NOT getting the people you are voting for as state representative and senator!

Sen. Trotter's name is on the ballot even though he has resigned from the office
For those who live in the 34th district (for state represenative) and 17th district for state senate: Did you know that the people you might be voting for  state represneative and state senator will NOT be the people who will take office for the term you are electing them for?

State Senator Donne Trotter resigned on January 19, 2018. This was essentially just in time to meet the deadline for people who wanted to register as a write-in candidate.

He will NOT be in office again. 34th district State Representative. Elgie Sims was chosen by Democratic Committeemen (NOT the vote of the people) to replace Trotter. Sims was in turn replaced by the same committee (and NOT the average voter)  by Nick Smith as State Representative.

The Chicago Tribune wrote an editorial about this voter omission in January.

What do our readers feel about this? Are you bothered by it? Do you feel it is a form of voter suppression? Support it? Please let us know

Time to vote!
By the time this is posted in the morning polls will have been open for over two hours. If you live in Chicago's 6th Ward or even portions of the 9th Ward you may have noticed some changes as far as who represents you in the state senate and the state house.

While you may expect Elgie Sims to be running for re-election to his old 34th state representative district, now he's the current senator for the 17th state senate district. The previous senator Donne Trotter resigned back in January. And of course Sims' replacement in the state house is one Nicholas Smith.

BTW, if you're unsure who's on the ballot before you vote go to this page at Chicago Board of Elections to find out who will be on the ballot. You will have to enter your address to find the ballot for the precinct where you reside.

We do have a contentious primary for 4th district Cook County commissioner. It seems many aren't too happy with Stanley Moore. Question is will the three challengers be able to unseat him on the Cook County board.

Finally, how many of us have been paying attention to the primary for Governor? Do you think JB Pritzker - in spite of his long ago comments with regards to Black politicos on a wiretap - will be able to pull out a victory with his vast fortune.

As always we encourage you to vote today. Take that time out to cast a vote, and of course make your choice in this year's election. After tomorrow we have a long way to November for the general election.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Simeon students trash Chatham Market Walmart on 83rd last Thursday

[VIDEO] I'm with Alderman Howard Brookins (Ward 21) where Simeon and the Walmart is located. Ald. Brookins years ago was at the front of a battle to bring Walmart to the south side and by 2011 it was time for a ground breaking to build this store. Indeed it's hard work to bring national retailers to south side neighborhoods as Chatham only for this activity to happen.

As you know last week there were nationwide protests against guns last week and high school students around the nation took part in demonstrations. Unfortunately there were a group of young people who took advantage of being allowed to take part in these protest to engage in this form of mayhem. Not just outright trash the local Walmart store, also to engage in small time theft.

From FOX 32:
Chicago police say it started when students at neighboring Simeon Career Academy were allowed to leave the school for 17 minutes to take part in the nationwide walkout to protest guns.

Police say between 40 and 60 of those students crossed the street and trashed parts of the store, knocking over product displays, yanking items off shelves, breaking packages and stealing small items like chips and candy.

In a statement, a Chicago Public Schools spokesperson says: "We are very concerned by these allegations and we are reviewing the matter."

Some of the students that FOX 32 talked to at Simeon say they're angry that a walkout intended to promote peace instead led to vandalism and violence.
In my mind, now this can lead to questions as to whether or not students should be allowed to leave school to engage in activism. I'm all for our young people engage in various aspects of their civic duty which is certain to protest, however, we can never tolerate unfortunate incidents such as this.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

87th Street in March 2018

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to reenact the shots taken on New Year's Eve 2007 on 87th Street. Back in January I did a throwback post with an old photo of the Seaway Bank sign from 2007.

Unlike back in 2007 when these shots were taken on a simple point and shoot digital camera, these photos were taken on my iPhone with an olloclip lens.

Click on all pics for larger resolution.

Across the street is a Family Dollar store. If you can see the grand opening sign near the front entrance don't let that fool you, this particular store has been open since sometime in 2007. A local community organization wrote in their newsletters that year that they wanted a grocery store at this location. Even 10 years later no grocer has stepped forward to turn this back into a grocery store. Before 2007, this space was home to a locally owned Food Basket store.
 Moving along on 87th Street, here is a branch of Illinois Service Federal. Earlier in 2007 it was the site of a fatal bank robbery which made the local news. A teller was killed by gunfire during that violent incident. Since then ISF has gone through their own changes with a new ownership group hailing from Ghana who now owns this Black-owned financial institution.

Finally got a shot of the new sign at the former Seaway Bank which sports new signage because of it's ownership under Self-Help Federal Credit Union. Seaway Bank itself failed in January 2017 and was purchased in a FDIC auction by State Bank of Texas. Then in May 2017 Self-Help took over deposits and branches of Seaway after SBT sold them to the credit union.

There are more photos from 87th Street that I would like to post in the near future. At least on a much nicer day closer to Spring was I finally able to retake these shots. Of course there are other changes on 87th Street worth noting not captured in these three shots.

Also here is a collage posted to Instagram on Friday of the above three photos.

Lt. Gov. candidate at 95th on Friday

 QUICK NOTE: If you have a campaign event on the south side you would live for us to share for our audience feel free to send us an e-mail at blog @ Feel free to reach out to us on our social media pages facebook, instagram, and twitter.

Ra Joy is running for Lt. Gov. with Chris Kennedy in next week's primary election. You might have seen Ra Joy on CAN-TV as he was one of the rotating hosts of Political Forum that airs on CAN-TV 21. On Friday he was seen campaigning at the 95th terminal shaking hands and speaking with commuters. The video of this was posted to his ig page.
Here's the most recent edition I could find of Political Forum with Ra Joy as host which aired in October 2016. Incidentally he appeared as a candidate on Political Forum earlier this month. Here's a program with him as host. [VIDEO]

Friday, March 16, 2018

Crain's: House flipping is changing the South Side - for the better

I've been meaning to post this article from Crain's this week. Dennis Rodkin of Crain's discusses how "house-flipping" in some south-side neighborhoods are changing them for the better.

When you think about it better this than a number of homes boarded up. I almost mentioned the foreclosure crisis, however, when that crisis hit that was over a decade ago. Perhaps the house-flipping is another after effect of that economic crisis that usher President Obama into the White House.

Anyway here's a bit of the article:
Ten years ago, a map of ZIP code 60629, a swath of the city just east of Midway Airport, was filled with hundreds of red dots indicating foreclosed homes. Now, thanks to a decadelong wave of rehabbers flipping distressed homes, that same area has homes that have been refreshed and resold.

In 60629, which encompasses parts of Chicago Lawn, West Lawn and Marquette Park, 692 homes have been flipped in 10 years, the most in any Chicago-area ZIP code, according to figures provided exclusively to Crain's by Attom Data Solutions. The data cover about 300 ZIP codes in the region, for 10 years, 2008 through 2017, a period in which more than 41,900 Chicago-area homes were flipped.

Five ZIP codes—four on the city's South Side and one in suburban Bolingbrook (see the chart)—emerged as the epicenters of home flipping, each of them with more than 500 properties going through the process in the past 10 years.
If you see the graphic above we see the zipcodes that include Auburn Gresham, Roseland, and West Pullman are among those neighborhoods with the most homes flipped.
Are there houses in your neighborhood being flipped? Are there houses in your neighborhood worth flipping?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

1956: 63rd & Halsted

Found through the ig account for Vintage Tribune. You will see vintage photos taken from Chicago Tribune photographers over the years. You see how active and vibrant 63rd & Halsted was during the 1950s. Long before the changes would occur by the late 1960s and 1970s.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Voyage Chicago: Meet Asiaha Butler of R.A.G.E.

The article was actually shared to our FB page by JP Paulus last week. Time to share this on the blog with this quote:
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.

My journey started when I decided to relocate from Chicago back in 2008, after my block here in Englewood was in turmoil. A bullet went through my door, someone had climb through my daughter’s window attempting to rob us and there was shootings happening on a nightly basis. I was afraid from my life and the life of my family. After reviewing the housing market in Atlanta where most of my family lives, I was ready to say goodbye to Chicago. Then something hit me when I looked out of my window at four young children playing in a vacant lot filled with bottles, glass and dirt. That moment I decided, that instead of leaving Englewood, I need to stay and add value in order to make a change in my neighborhood.

I didn’t know where to start so I just volunteered everywhere in Englewood. After volunteering, I became frustrated that there was not many event or activities for youth on the Saturdays, which was my day off from my day job and since my husband is a DJ, I felt our first move should be creating a youthful space for young people on Saturdays. My goal, was to connect our young people with our elders, whom were the ones hosting many young programs. So we started showing a series of documentaries, inviting young and older people for “Docs & Dialogue” at libraries, parks, and other locations. We chose films to spark in-depth conversation about provocative issues such as misogyny in hip hop, violence in video games, and the ways societal ills from slavery to drugs have affected black women over time. Then in 2010, I founded alongside two other Englewood residents, a youth journalism program called Media-N-Motion, where we led young people in making videos, writing articles, and publishing a newsletter examining how Englewood was portrayed in the media.

During this time, I met countless residents who wanted more for Englewood who wanted to be a part of the change, like I did. In November of 2010, I brushed off my association experience from my day job and co-founded R.A.G.E. or Resident Association of Greater Englewood. Our mission is to mobilize people and resources to force a change in the community and our primary focus areas are Education, Youth Development, Economic Development and Civic Empowerment. We started with 13 members and looked for ways to empower leadership within the community to help take on the complex problems that impact and stigmatize Englewood. Now our association has more than 260 members with many achievements under our belt, ranging from being the civic pioneers of the Large $1 Lot program, working to repurposing vacant schools and continuing to connect empowerment tools to residents.

A year ago, after 16 years I decided to quit my day job at a real estate association to work on the efforts in Englewood full-time. I opened the R.A.G.E. headquarters in the building I owned across the street from my home, adjacent to a once-vacant lot that was my turning point that I bought from the city for $1. I use my lot for community events, place-making activities, meetings and recently a job fair that brought over 400 attendees.

My journey continues as I served as the architect and lead curator of Englewood Rising, a recently launched neighborhood rebranding campaign actively working to change the community’s narrative. In addition to boosting neighborhood pride among residents, the campaign also aims to show those outside Englewood that the violence and crime and poverty they hear about on the news is only one part of the story. I recently founded my own real estate development group to develop and rebuild the neighborhood with a mission to increase home ownership and work to counter the fears of gentrification. It is my personal mission to continue to love on and show the beauty of Englewood from the people, the movements, the assets, and opportunities. I coined the name “Mrs. Englewood”, because I am truly married to my community, I have made personal vows to see our community revitalized and rebuilt with residents leading every step of the way.
If you're looking to make a different in your communities, hopefully this inspires you. I encourage you to read the whole thing.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Jackson Park Highlands neighborhood expecting more notice with #Obama library

So as Leon's Barbecue gets notice with it's return in the Woodlawn neighborhood - and armed with knowlege that the Obama library will be coming soon to Jackson Park - another neighborhood south of Jackson Park begins to gain some notice. That neighborhood is Jackson Park Highlands. Which was seen in YoChicago's video back from 2010. [VIDEO]
Anyway with the accompanying tweet from Tribune Graphics that contains a map of Jackson Park Highlands and a link to the recent Tribune article by William Lee to how home sales are booming in the Highlands.
And one of the people quoted in this article and the video you will see when you click to the article is Ms. Alisa Starks who formerly owned the Chatham Theaters currently owned and operated by Studio Movie Grill:
[Alisa] Starks, a lifelong South Shore resident who moved into the Highlands as a new mom in 1997, is hoping to be part of the resurgence with plans to build an entertainment complex that includes a dine-in movie theater, restaurant and bowling alley on the site of the old ShoreBank branch on Jeffery Boulevard in May 2019.

But the businesswoman, who was part of the team that founded the former ICE movie theaters in Chatham and Lawndale, said some of her hardest work has come after she was drafted to chair a special business development task force within the homeowner’s association. She and other Highlands residents are trying to learn what type of businesses and services their neighbors want while challenging them to get actively involved.

Highlands residents are insulated not only from the violence of the outer community, they’re also unaffected by the lack of options many other South Shore residents face, Starks said. Most if not all Highlands residents drive and can travel to Hyde Park and other places for grocery shopping and dine-in restaurant service, while poorer residents must rely on public transportation.

Starks blamed much of the disconnect between the Highlands and the outer community on a lack of communication, involvement and shared purpose between Highlands residents and community organizations.

“We’re complaining (about the disconnect). We’re sitting here watching it happen. We’re letting it happen!” Starks said.
The article starts off with referring to this area as something of a secret not many people know it exists. Technically speaking it is within the South Shore community area. As you see from the map the enclave is roughly within the area of Stony Island to the west, 67th to the north, Jeffrey to the east and 71st to the south. If you believe this video by Victor Maggio, the rest of South Shore is a very violent community. Of course the crime is noted in the article and I'm sure many residents doesn't want the crime from outside the community to affect it.

If the Obama library brings in more tourist to this part of town this neighborhood is in luck as the Highlands is a city landmark district. Out of town tourists can come here and check out the nice homes.

DNA Info & Chicago could be under WBEZ in the future....

If you've been browsing around at DNA Info Chicago recently you might have noticed a message at the top as far as the archives. The message shows a link to this press release and was published on Feb. 23, 2018. If you want a quick sum up from Robert Feder blog last month.
Chicagoist, one of the online news sites that were shut down when billionaire Joe Ricketts killed DNAinfo last year, may be acquired by Chicago Public Media WBEZ FM 91.5. Public media stations in New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., recently picked up the assets of Gothamist, LAist and DCist from Ricketts. Now WBEZ has been approached by WNYC about acquiring Chicagoist, including domain names, social media assets and archives. “Given WBEZ’s commitment to local journalism, as well as admiration for the work of these former outlets, WBEZ is actively exploring this possibility and determining how these assets might be used most effectively in keeping with the organization’s mission to serve the Chicago community,” Steve Edwards, vice president and chief content officer for Chicago Public Media, said in a statement.
If you don't remember in November last year, DNA Info and assorted Gothamist sites including Chicagoist were shut down by Joe Ricketts because the DNA Info newsroom in New York voted to unionize. Also just last year Gothamist merged with DNA Info and thus Chicagoist & DNA Info were shut down along with the other affiliated sites.

So hopefully the work of DNA Info and Chicagoist will ultimately be owned by Chicago's public radio affiliate. Perhaps both sites will be reborn whenever a deal will be worked about between Chicago & NYC public radio affiliates.

If this does happen where does this leave the efforts of BlockClubChi who hopes to start where DNA Info left off?

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Daylight savings time returns on Sunday

You might have seen this on our FB page recently. Set your clocks ahead one hour Saturday night. We're getting closer to spring and warmer weather. This is yet another benchmark. :)

Friday, March 9, 2018

Leon's Barbecue is back, thanks to Denzel Washington

[VIDEO] Though not at the location I know about on 83rd/Cottage Grove though there remains a BBQ place there along with Dat Donuts. The new Leon's Barbecue restaurant is located near the site of the future Obama library at 63rd/Stony Island. Looking forward to visiting this location in the near future.

BTW, you're going to see references to Denzel Washington - legendary Hollywood actor - who was in a viral video from last year prompting the return of this longtime establishment. It's too bad that I'm never "hip" to these viral videos, I'd have gotten a kick out of it. For now he will get his fix.

ALSO, I know that Leon's closed their locations a few years ago. How do they explain the locations under Leon's on Archer Ave & 106th Street? I think Rev. Finney needs to check that business out! Here's their webpage referring to themselves as the Original Leon's.

Below is Denzel's video found via the Sun-Times who's tweet on the reopening of Leon's is also below. [VIDEO]

Early voting has started #Ward09
Actually it's started as of this Monday for the March 20, 2018 primary elections. These are the early voting sites in the Ward 9, however, if you want to find out sites for your respective ward feel free to visit The information is from an e-mail blast by the office of Ald. Anthony Beale (Ward 9).

Reminder: Early Voting
March 5 thru March 19, 2018

Palmer Park
201 East 111th Street
Chicago, IL 60628

Olive Harvey College
10001 S Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60628
  • March 5th - March 10 from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm 
  • March 11th from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • March 12th - March 16th from 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • March 17th from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • March 18th from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • March 19th  from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
For more information contact the Board of Elections (312) 269- 7900

Government-issued photo ID is not required but is helpful if there is a question about the voter's registration, address, signature or if there are two voters with the same or similar names at the same address.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Nick Smith is coming the Chesterfield Community Council #Ward09

Your new 34th District State Representative Nicholas Smith is coming to a meeting of the Chesterfield Community Council next Tuesday.

When: Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Time: 6:30 PM
Where: Tuley Park - 90th & King Drive

If you want additional information or to contact the Chesterfield organization I will refer you to their website at Also a posted is embedded from Chesterfield's FB page below.

Reason: Markets penalize bigotry

[VIDEO] The video you're about to see would've been great for Black History Month. All the same, I pride myself on sharing information that gets you to think. Over the years this wasn't the only video from Reason magazine that I have shared with you. Here's an early one that shares a different angle from the one above about urban renewal.

In this case a real estate businessman Philip A. Payton knew how to play the game and essentially built a Black community in Harlem. The lesson here at least for early 20th century New York, segregation can become ultimately a very expensive luxury. I recognize times have changed so perhaps the late Philip A. Payton's approach may not work the same way today.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

City Club of Chicago: Exodus from Illinois

[VIDEO] This happened yesterday Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6 Ward) was on a panel at the City Club of Chicago with Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell, Kristen McQueary from the Chicago Tribune, and conservative commentator Dan Proft. The video above is about 47 mins and was streamed live on YouTube on Tuesday.

I've not had the chance to watch in full however we can both see what these four distinguished individuals have to say about this exodus from Illinois. This should be a very interesting discussion to be had here.

Also remember last month Ald. Sawyer gave a speech at the City Club also.