Monday, March 31, 2008

Bill would allow recall of Illinois officials

This has been in the news for the better part of the last year. There are politicians in Springfield both Democrat and Republican who want to allow the citizens of Illinois to recall elected officials. I'd like some thoughts on this, perhaps get some discussion going. Here's the story...
One Illinois senator calls it "buyer's remorse."

Whatever it's called, electing the wrong person makes some wish their government came with a return policy. If a proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution comes to fruition, voters soon will have the right to change their minds about executive, legislative and judicial officers.

State Sen. Dan Rutherford, R-Pontiac, made one of many stops here last week in a 10-day trip aimed at adding recall of elected state officials to the constitution. The amendment already passed unanimously in the House State Government Administration Committee, and could be up for a vote relatively soon, according to Illinois Rep. Ruth Munson, R-Elgin.

Rutherford said blatant political corruption in Springfield and elsewhere has led him and others to demand a avenue for recourse.

"I think there are two things that prompted this," Rutherford said. "One is Rod Blagojevich and two is George Ryan."

According to the proposed amendment, a petition for recall would have to come within six months of when the official's most current term began. It requires a minimum number of signatures equal to 20 percent of the last vote for that office. For example, recall for a statewide office right now would require about 420,000 signatures, according to news release circulated by Rutherford.

If the requirements are met, the recall would be added to the next ballot. A majority vote would lead to the official's removal from office, the amendment states.

For ratification, the amendment would have to pass the Illinois House, the Senate and a referendum vote, all with three-fifths majorities. The amendment also could be proposed at a constitutional convention. During the Nov. 4 general election, Illinoisans will be voting for or against holding such a convention in 2010. Voters have the option of calling one every 20 years.

The 20 percent minimum sets the bar pretty high, Rutherford said, which is important because sometimes leaders must make unpopular decisions.

"I do not want it to be something that would hinder an official's fortitude," he said. "You want people to be statesmen," not politicians.
Oh yeah I should mention that this is one possible change that could be made if there is a call for a constitutional convention in this year's election. For recall I would vote yes, provided that the recall election doesn't turn into a circus as it did in California with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gray Davis in 2003. On it's face I like this proposal, but what does everyone else think out there.

Block Party Guidelines

Are you looking forward to warmer weather yet?

Anyway these two vids show block club parties for both the 44th and 32nd wards. I'm not sure what the procedure would be for the 6th. May not be much difference, but I could pose a question. How many of you out there hosts a block party? How common are they in the 6th?

These vids are produced by the Neighbors Project.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

James J. Laski interview

On Chicago Cable Access, talking about his career in politics from the time he didn't get a summer job because he voted for Republican Governor Jim Thompson thru about the time he was caught in a corruption probe as Chicago City Clerk. Hat-tip Chicago Clout.


Well here's another website where one can create an online community for the purposes of connecting with the neighbors. Check out i-neighbors.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Site of Independence Bank of Chicago

View Larger Map

The former headquarters that is not merely another branch of another Chicago bank Shorebank. It's a very nice building they have.

In the interest of history about Independence bank

I found this article about how the black-owned Independence Bank was acquired by ShoreBank in the mid-1990s. Earlier this week I posted a painted advertisement here. From
WHEN WILLIAM T. JOHNSON ventured forth to create the largest black-owned bank holding company in the nation, he sincerely believed that two law degrees and a nearly completed master's degree in banking would provide him with a solid educational foundation. But for Johnson, chairman of OmniBanc Corp., a small bank holding company in suburban Detroit, a new level of education was about to begin.

In his quest to purchase Indecorp Inc.--the black-owned Chicago-based holding company that owns two BE FINANCIAL 25 banks, Independence Bank and Drexel National Bank--Johnson would learn that there's a lot more to buying a bank than coming up with the money. He also had to win over community activists and government officials whose opposition could convince federal bank regulators to block the deal.

Some of Johnson's critics wanted guarantees that a new owner would improve Indecorp's poor record of making loans in the black community. Others were still outraged by an earlier effort to sell Indecorp, which earned $3.6 million in 1993, to a white-owned bank. All were skeptical of the newcomer's intentions.

"It's very important to have African-American ownership of financial institutions in the state of Illinois," says the state's treasurer's, Par Quinn. "At the same time, all banks have a duty to be good lenders in their service area.

Johnson's first step was to woo and win over Indecorp's top brass, Chairman George Johnson (founder of Johnson Products Co. Inc.) and President and CEO Alvin J. Boutte, who were shopping the banks around. They were impressed with Johnson's determination to build a black-owned interstate bank, committed to injecting capital into low-income communities even as it expands into the most sophisticated realms of corporate and international banking. "I always had a vision that someday black interstate banking would come to the country," says Boutte, who saw OmniBanc's offer as an entree for black: banks to this arena.

Then, aware of his outsider status, William Johnson launched a public relations campaign worthy of a Chicago alderman,and he won over his critics with written pledges to invest millions in the low-income neighborhoods of Chicago's South Side.

"Anybody coming in from the outside, certainly from Detroit, tends to be viewed with suspicion," says Johnson, whose River Rouge, Mich., OmniBanc (the holding company is OmniBanc) is too small to be on the BE FINANCIAL 25. He adds: People were asking: "Who are are you? We never heard of you before.' It took a lot of work [to win their confidence]. I had to actually become a part of the community." (See sidebar "Black Banking's New Giant.")

William Johnson now looks set to become part of the community, as well as a pioneer (for black-owned banks) in the emerging world of interstate banking. Although even Johnson's toughest critics are now urging the Federal Reserve Board to approve the acquisition of Indecorp, as of press time the ruling wasn't expected much before June.

Despite the appearance that everything's a go, the deal won't be consummated unless the financing arrangements are sound. According to sources close to the deal Johnson and Indecorp have committed to a $35 million purchase price. That is approximately 1.7 times Indecorp's book value as of the summer of 1993. However, all the veteran Chicago business leaders and Indecorp officials George Johnson and Alvin Boutte are confident that all the details have been worked out.
There's more to the story and I don't intend to post the whole story so, I think I will try to get to the point. If you want to read the whole story that's why I have a link to
But Johnson soon found that Boutte and George Johnson weren't the only people with whom he'd have to strike a bargain. Mark Allen and the community activists he'd mobilized in opposition to the Shorebank deal weren't about to go away. They wanted a commitment that Indecorp's new owners would lend millions to residents of the South Side communities served by Independence and Drexel.

They had a strong ally in the activist state treasurer, Pat Quinn, who felt that Independence and Drexel had failed in this duty. Quinn had a major problem with the fact that the banks simply didn't make many loans to low-income people--or anybody else.

The average bank lends out about 60% of the money it gets in deposits. According to Quinn, Independence Bank was lending out just 35% of deposits, while Drexel National was lending just 31%.

Viewed another way, Indecorp invested $185.2 million of its assets in government bonds and other interest-bearing assets last year, but just $72.1 million in loans to local businesses and households. "We don't want banks admiring money in the vault," gripes Quinn. "We want them to lend money to people in their communities for mortgages, to start businesses and to send their kids to college."

Federal regulators were also disappointed in the performance of the Indecorp banks. Under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), banks are graded on how well they serve minority borrowers. While Drexel and OmniBank were given "satisfactory" CRA ratings, Independence was given a "needs to improve" grade, the second worst rating possible.

Quinn saw the sale of Indecorp as the chance to change this. He sent representatives to meet with Johnson and lay down the law: If he wanted Quinn's support--and millions of dollars in deposits from the state of Illinois--he would have to promise a significant increase in community lending.

Johnson says that, at first, the meetings with Quinn's people were pretty confrontational. "They didn't know me," he explains. "As a consequence, initially, we had some difficult discussions."

The meetings with Allen and other community activists were not as tense, but despite Johnson's promises to invest in the community, there was still a chill of skepticism in the air.

Johnson realized that Quinn and the community activists would have to be won over. So Johnson began spending more time in Chicago than in River Rouge, walking the streets of the South Side, attending community meetings and filling five Rolodexes with newfound contacts. He met with businesspeople, congressional people and just plain people, pledging to put more money into the neighborhood.

"I learned an awful lot about Chicago and about the need for community banking services," says Johnson. In many cases, these people provided me with a view of the community that most bankers never see."

But Allen and Quinn demanded more than nice speeches and personal appearances. They wanted a commitment in writing that under Johnson, Independence and Drexel would increase their lending to the black community. Allen asked Johnson for a commitment to lend an additional $75 million over five years. He was delighted when Johnson replied, "Wait, we can do more than that."
This story still isn't over apparently, but it's pretty interesting. We see a cameo appearance by future Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn. Obviously, he didn't get Independence bank, that's the bottom line here I can fill in the blanks but without having to know much about the backstory. It's still an interesting history lesson.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Why rent-to-own when you can rent?

I don't know how many renters there are in the sixth, but Joe Zekas at YoChicago has some advice for you if you take advantage of such a program and want to eventually own your own home. Here's the last paragraph, but go read the whole post...
The purported key to a rent-to-own program is that a portion of the rent you pay is credited toward your down payment. Why not simply rent or share a lower-priced apartment for a while and save the difference toward your down payment?

Whew!!! I did it! Well sort of.

Well this tool EveryBlock is used to keep track of things going on in the general neighborhood. I mentioned this site back in January. Here is the section for the Sixth Ward and you can further break it down according to neighborhood or zip code. It doesn't just track crime, it also tracks business and liquor licenses, as well news stories pertaining to a given area, and even restaurant inspections. It's really neat.

I was going to celebrate adding a EveryBlock feed to the sixth ward in the sidebar to the right just about the weather but nothing is showing up. Oh well I'll keep working on it, but now you know how to get to this information. I also have a link to EveryBlock in the sidebar under the News/Media/Information banner.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Chicago JROTC

I really wish I knew this program existed when I was in high school. I found a website about Chicago Public Schools JROTC programs today when I saw that this blog was getting hits for that photo of Harlan Community Academy High School I posed back in November. Harlan is home to a Army JROTC program.

This for a while seemed to be a trend in the Chicago Public Schools one while. It seemed there were always announcements that such and such school was going to be turned into a military academy. I wonder if these programs are having the desired impacts that I'm sure were expected of them.

Sweet Home and Garden Chicago

This is a gardening blog I found over at Blogger's Blogs of Note blog where they post links to blogs they like everyday during the week barring holidays. Check it out. It is based in Chicago, of course.

Exterior photos of the Chatham Food Center

Just for fun, I decided to look over at the photo sharing site Flickr for some pics of the Chatham Food Center grocery store. Most of these pics are fairly recent but surely the scene won't look much different if one was to decide to visit that establishment anytime soon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A question for those of you who have children in the public schools

I just thought about this when I saw this post over the District 299 blog asking whether or not there is a rule with regards to parental fundraising at local schools that limit parental fundraising to $1500. What I'd like to know is how many of you do so? This is for parents of both private and public school students.

You know if the Chicago Board of Education seems to always complain about not having enough resources for the public schools, then why not allow parents or other interested groups to raise as much funds for their neighborhood schools. Surely they do anyway to a certain point, but I do want to know if parents in the neighborhoods of The Sixth Ward engage in fundraising for their schools.

Why give shoppers this . . . . . . if they already have this?

A Tribune editorial in favor of a Wal-Mart on west 83rd Street. I might slow down on the Wal-Mart postings, but this is still a relevant issue since I understand that people are mostly against it and then of course there are people who are for it. As per usual comments are good, let me know what you think about Wal-Mart coming to the area...
Driving down the Dan Ryan one recent day we passed a Wal-Mart semi headed south on its way out of Chicago. It easily could have exited the expressway at 83rd Street, turned right and proceeded several blocks past the new Lowe's store and a Potbelly Sandwich Works in the Chatham Market to deliver goods to what by now should have been Wal-Mart's second Chicago store. But the semi stuck to the Ryan. And the lot at 83rd and Stewart on Chicago's South Side? It's a vast expanse of vacant land, empty and forlorn.

Contrast that with the bustling scene we encountered at Wal-Mart's first and only Chicago store, on West North Avenue east of Cicero Avenue. The parking lot was nearly full. Shoppers streamed in and out of the bright, airy store stocking up on clothes, food, toys, housewares. Some stopped at the in-house Uncle Remus Saucy Fried Chicken for a bite of lunch. We bought sunglasses.

This thriving Wal-Mart is on the site of what had been a virtually abandoned building. The store provides jobs for more than 440 employees—it's currently hiring more—at average wages for hourly workers of about $12 an hour. In the 18 months the store has been open (through February), it has collected nearly $7.3 million in sales taxes alone—$1.9 million for the city, $3.9 million for the state, $917,000 for the RTA and $583,000 for Cook County. And it's a convenient shopping mecca for Chicagoans.

You would think the City of Chicago would want more of all of this: More jobs. More sales and property tax revenues. More convenient shopping opportunities. You would think the city would want fewer vacant lots.

You would be wrong.

An unusual clause in the Chatham Market redevelopment plan gives the city the right of refusal to anyone proposing to build a store larger than 100,000 square feet. This month Chicago said no (again) to Wal-Mart's proposed 195,000 square foot Supercenter store for the 50-acre South Side site, which once housed the Ryerson Tull steel plant.

Why didn't the city say yes to such a needed development? Because that would have reignited Mayor Richard M. Daley's still-smoldering battle with organized labor over the controversial Big Box ordinance. The City Council—with labor's frenzied support—passed that ordinance requiring big-store retailers to pay workers higher wages and benefits in 2006. Mayor Daley vetoed it.

Be proud!

Location: Roseland, Illinois, USA
A pic from Lee Bey. You may remember him from the Sun-Times or even CBS2 and he used to work for this city of Chicago.

This painted sign you would see on 95th Street and Michigan Avenue right in the drive-thru of Pizza Hut/KFC. This is an ad for a now defunct black-owned bank, but I'll let Mr. Lee Bey tell you the story and check out more of his photographs...
..and yet, a little sad. This sweet ghost sign from the uptight/outtasight 1970s was for Independence Bank of Chicago, one the nation's largest black-owned banks. Offices were at 79th and Cottage Grove and, early on, 79th and Stony Island in the city's black middle-class South Side communities. Independence and Seaway National Bank were both black owned and though they were born of utter racism---black folks formed their own banks because white-owned banks weren't that keen on lending to them--they were sources of pride, especially on the black South Side. The slogan on this sign, frankly, almost brings a tear to the eye so simple, elegant and of times: "Be proud." Then came the Community Reinvestment Act of the 1980s which all but forced major banks to make loans in black America and open branches there. Suddenly there was competition for Independence and other black-owned banks. Independence hung tough and even acquired the viable and white-owned Drexel Bank. Sadlly, Independence is no longer around. It got bought out by Shorebank in the 1990s. Seaway still exists, but there are rumbles every year about them selling.
You can always visit their original headquarters near 79th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. It is of course a branch of ShoreBank now! I wonder if I might be able to take a few pictures when the weather warms up.

BTW, you can look at the profile of former owner Alvin Boutte. I wonder how I can get my hands on some of these interviews with those prominent blacks.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Chicago Bloggers is back!!!

The last time the website was up it was basically a collection of blogs that were arranged according to the different stations on the CTA L lines. It's a lot different now, and no doubt the reason it was retooled was because they were getting a lot of spam (that is electronic junk) posted onto their website. Now things are different and I'm considering adding this blog to the collection of Chicago Bloggers.

I mention it here so that you can have a look at the blogging universe around the Chicago area. Perhaps you might find some new favorites that I haven't provided here.

Chicago's Best Blogs

Well so far they only have five categories over at the Tribune's newest blog. Of course there is a section for best neighborhood blogs and four out of the five listed there are on the blogroll here at The Sixth Ward. Perhaps this blog or any neighborhood blog any of you readers might start could be one of those blogs on the list. It's pretty cool that the Tribune are recognizing blogs.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Chatham Food Center: An oasis in a ‘food desert’

An article from the Methods Reporter. I don't know how I missed this but I don't normally read the Methods Reporter. This article comes from earlier this month on March 6th...
As the only black-owned supermarket in Chicago, Chatham Food Center stands as a vestige from an era that saw the dilapidation of many businesses In the South Side’s Chatham community, a neighborhood now teeming with fast food restaurants.

Inside this 4,000-square-foot, 25-year-old supermarket owned by Leonard Harris, 63, and his wife Donna, 50, at 327 E. 79th St., soul music zings through the air. It’s a subtle reminder that this neatly manicured grocery store is indeed the last of its kind, according to the Chicago Urban League.

But it’s also a multi-million dollar business run by a University of Chicago MBA.

Chatham Food Center, which remains open 24 hours, seven days a week and employs about 45 people, helps stabilize a community struggling to find nutritious food choices. The steady flow of customers streaming in and out the doors reinforces its utility. Stepping outside Chatham Food Center, a Burger King and a McDonald’s appear ominously in the background on 79th street.

According to Chicago researcher Mari Gallagher, Chatham is a “food desert.” Gallagher, who in 2006 published a study “Examining the Impact of Food Deserts on Public Health in Chicago,” describes these neighborhoods as areas with isolated grocery stores but surfeited with fast food, convenience stores and liquor stores that offer scant wholesome food options.

According to the study, Chicago’s majority black areas such as Chatham where the black citizenry comprises 98 percent of the population, according to the most recent census data, are disproportionately plagued by a lack of healthy food options. This, she argues, causes obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease to gush through the community. “In areas that have few grocery stores there is a greater preponderance of fast food,” she says. “People will resort to the things they have in their neighborhood more often than not.”

There was a time, Harris says, that Chatham became not only a food desert but also an “economic desert,” as children matured and left home, and as husbands died, leaving their wives widowed. Before the “graying of Chatham. you had one household shopping a grocery basket for five people, now you had a household shopping a grocery basket for one person,” he says. Economic instability plagued the community, says Ald. Freddrenna M. Lyle (6th), declaring Chatham had “aged in place.”

Before turning to a joint program formed by the Chicago Urban League and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management - called “nextOne” - Chatham Food Center found itself entwined in an economic maelstrom, almost giving way to stagnant revenues and competition that huffed, puffed, and tried to blow it down.

Between 2001 and 2006, business was sluggish. “Sales over the last five years had declined 10 percent and now [in 2006] they were flat,” Harris says. What’s more, he says, there was increased competition; a Dominick’s supermarket and a Jewel Osco supermarket were encroaching on his business.

With the help of marketing, finance and management coaches provided by the Urban League, that all changed. “We shifted from social services to economic development,” stated Urban League CEO Cheryle R. Jackson in a press release. The program gave the Harrises a guide to spark revenue but also helped them continue their efforts of serving a community where they both grew up.

The Harrises believe the time-built loyalty of their customers allowed them to stay afloat despite an aging population and the deep-pocketed competition.

In fact, Donna Harris, whose day job is executive director of the Chatham Business Association, says, “We feel like the community owns the store, not us.” Leonard Harris remembers instances when customers would tap him on the shoulder and whisper of external and internal theft. “This is their store and I’m just a caretaker for them,” he says.

Customers say that Chatham Food Center is more appealing than its competitors because of its meats, fresh produce, short wait times, customer service and proximity to their home. “This is the only one that’s still together,” Chatham resident Melvin Bradford said.

At Chatham Food Center, a gallon of milk costs $2.99. A gallon at Jewel ranges between $3.49 and $3.99. Dominick’s sells a gallon for $3.49. However, the same loaf of 100 percent Sara Lee whole wheat bread costs $2.89 at Chatham, $2.29 at Jewel and $2.69 at Dominick’s. Chatham resident Lee B. Tate, 74, who has been shopping at Chatham Food Center since its inception, says though it’s not always cheaper, “the butcher always cuts the meat the way I like it for free.”

“They help with your groceries. They help you to your car. They are very nice people to be around,” she adds.

Berniece Gibbs, a bookkeeper who has been working at the supermarket for nine years, says there have been occasions when elderly customers have come in, only to find their coveted item out of stock. But, she says, Mr. Harris has ordered and then hand-delivered those items to his customers.

His management style reflects lessons he learned while under tutelage of the now-deceased Ernest Collins, a linchpin in the Chatham community, supermarket owner and co-founder of Seaway National Bank. “Essentially, I said ‘I want to be like you when I grow up,’” Harris reminisces. Following Collins’ guidance, in 1972 he invested $15,000 in Food Basket Inc. for 3 percent of the company. Seven years later, he left as president of the company, holding an 11 percent stake and with a dazzling new Executive MBA degree from the University of Chicago that Collins helped to pay for.

Ever the shrewd businessman, when asked about the challenges his supermarket faces, he promptly shifts the conversation and says, “lets talk about the opportunities.” Behind closed doors, employees talk about Harris’s conservative, if not frugal, spending habits and his need to stay abreast. “He is a hands-on owner,” says Fernando Manlove, a deli and meat department associate. “He gets into the trenches and I like that.”
Does anyone think this store wouldn't survive a Wal-Mart? Looking at this article the formula is there. Who knows if the mantra against Wal-Mart is that they put smaller stores out of business Chatham Food Center could put that to rest. We shall see!

ADDITION: I should note that Dominick's was right down the street on 79th but within the last two years they've closed down, but then following business news Dominick's have their issues. Though on this news I'm going back a few years with a strike and at one point Safeway, the store's corporate owners, putting the grocery chain on the auction block.

EXTRA ADDITION: Same article but this time from Medill Reports and scroll down to your right a little under some pictures (or the map and graph) is a video with Leonard Harris and his wife talking about their grocery store.

If you own property especially an apartment building

Don't find yourself in this situation. An old post from For What It's Worth.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Wards to the wise

From Time Out Chicago dated the week of Feb 15th. The 6th Ward is mentioned in time for last year's municipal elections.
6th Ward

Where is it? Far South Side

Why would you go there? To visit somebody—it’s primarily residential

What are people pissed about? This ward is a buffer between the middle-class neighborhoods to the east and the poverty-stricken wards to the west. Residents want development without encouraging gentrification.

Who will rule the land? The feisty Freddy Lyle is a hard woman to beat.

Here's a pic of Chatham Market on West 83rd

Well this had to have been a picture made before they completed Lowe's on this development. Probably last summer sometime. I wish there were better information on when they took these streetview pictures.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A West Chesterfield shrine

If you were reading YoChicago last year when they toured West Chesterfield then you ran into this local landmark of sorts there at 94th & Indiana.

Big-box stores boost Chicago's Chatham neighborhood, says small-business owner

A post from YoChicago from last year that's still worth reading in light of news about Wal-Mart seeking to open a store on 83rd Street in an area known as West Chatham.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Wal-Mart's uphill South Side battle

This article is from today's Tribune and hat-tip to YoChicago who believes that unions are attempting to make their mark in preventing Wal-Mart from coming to Chatham Market on 83rd Street. Even alleged here that the residents of the 21st Ward where this Wal-Mart will be located actually wants a Wal-Mart there. Here's what Chatham residents quoted in the article are saying about bringing in a Wal-Mart of course in posting this I know I might hear from some people who doesn't like Wal-Mart...
Franklin Johnson is a 35-year-resident of the Chatham neighborhood and said he wants Wal-Mart to come because it will bring hundreds of jobs. Arnita Mock Harris, another resident, said she and her mother travel to Evergreen Park and Lansing to shop at Wal-Mart and would rather shop in the city if they could.

"We don't shop in our neighborhood," said Harris. "The prices are too high. We go to the suburbs."

In the end, it could be that no one will be able to find a way around one big obstacle—a letter the original developer, Monroe Investment Partners LLC, sent to city officials in 2004 saying, "Wal-Mart is not now, and will not be, a part of our development."

Since then, Monroe turned the project over to Archon but retains a small stake. Some aldermen question whether the City Council would have had enough votes to rezone the site for retail if that letter never existed, knowing that Wal-Mart wanted to build there.

The quagmire leaves residents like Lorri Baldwin worried that the shopping center will sit unfinished for years.

"I'm very upset and I'm really disappointed with the city," said Baldwin, president of the West Chatham Improvement Association. "We really want the shopping center to be successful. We don't need buildings that will become decayed and empty. It is a wonderful opportunity and the politics is killing it."

Well I'm of the mind that the city has no right to tell a business whether they can or can't open an establishment. I'm sure there is a legal justification for it but I have no idea myself what that is. I suppose it's OK if there are people against a business coming to town and they rally against it in which case if they open anyway, the market could work against such a business.

Check out the earlier post on the planned 83rd Street Wal-Mart.

Addition: Here's a graphic provided by the Tribune with this article.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

L.A. style in Chicago's Chatham neighborhood

A house on Indiana Avenue in the Chatham neighborhood was featured last year on YoChicago's blog.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Second Chicago Wal-Mart May Never Come

From Channel 2...
It looks like the city of Chicago might not get a second Wal-Mart store after all.

The Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday that the City of Chicago has rejected a request by the world's largest retailer to build another store in the South Side's Chatham neighborhood.

For the project to move forward, Wal-Mart will need to get a law changed by the City Council. Under the current zoning for the Chatham Market shopping center at 83rd Street and Stewart Avenue, the city must approve any tenant leasing more than 100,000 square feet, the Tribune said.

Wal-Mart officials say they are still hopeful they can work out a solution with the city.

The first Wal-Mart in the city limits opened in September 2006 at North and Kilpatrick avenues on the city's West Side. That followed a spectacular political battle that began when the City Council passed an ordinance that would have required "big box" stores to pay workers at least $10 an hour plus $3 in fringe benefits.

The rules would only have applied to companies with more than $1 billion in annual sales and stores of at least 90,000 square feet.
I literally hate to open up another argument where people talk about whether or not there should be a mandated living wage. Two years ago I'd argue for the benefit of bringing jobs to struggling city neighborhoods. I still feel that way and I definitely won't join an argument in favor of a "living wage" with the belief that empolyers should pay a wage they deem fit.

At the same time there are those who don't care for Wal-Mart for fairly valid reasons as I've seen in this vid. This is not an Illinois focused video, but there are reasons to not like Wal-Mart other than because unions don't like them or whatever other contrived reason that can be had...
Still Chatham is a good neighborhood to have a Wal-Mart. There aren't many mom-and-pop stores that might run out of business. This should be a super-center where groceries should be sold so Jewel/Osco on 87th Street and the Chatham Food Center on 79th Street might have a run for their money.

Cross-posted at Illinoize!

Addition: A rare comment comes up and asks some good questions.

Did you know some Chatham residents take pride in the fact that our community has the most black owned businesses in Chicago? ("mom & pop stores") And, did you know Chatham Food Mart is the only black owned grocery store in Illinois? So, do you still think Chatham is a good neighborhood to have a Wal-Mart?
Well Chatham is certainly a place well known for black-owned businesses. I'm certainly aware that Chatham Food Center (I apologize for not getting the name right) is the only black-owned grocery store in the state. Now as for Chatham being good for a Wal-Mart, well I could say it's good enough for a Target so it's certainly good enough for a Wal-Mart. That being said I wish I had an answer as to whether or not a Wal-Mart might automatically harm the Chatham neighborhood and those businesses already contain within. I would like to think even with a Wal-Mart they would still survive. I'm not convinced that keeping Wal-Mart out of the neighborhood is the answer.

OK I got another idea

It's easy to set up a Blogger account, so my idea is to expand the bloggosphere in the neighborhoods. Consider it, especially if all you must do is talk about your life in the neighborhood or even at school. It might be great if you had a neighborhood organization or a block club just to let the rest of the world know what's going on in meetings or at least in your neighborhood.

If nothing else I can see this as a means to connect with other neighborhood activists out there in the city. Especially if your concerns aren't much different that those around Chicago. Still there's no reason Roger's Park should have all the fun.

By all means if you ever get your blog off the ground let me know, I will link you. And I hope you keep up consistent updates. It doesn't matter if it's once a week or once everyday. The pace is up to you. And it's OK to come up with an assumed name, you don't have to use your real name!

And I will also note that Blogger isn't the only software you can use. There's Yahoo!360, Wordpress (you can use one of two programs one to download onto dedicated webspace or there's where you can sign up and you're ready to blog). There's also LiveJournal for your blogging needs of course that can be used for more personal purposes. I just want to hand you some ideas!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Marathon Pundit: Cook County treasurer's office working against taxpayers

John Rueberry talks about trying to get his money back from Cook County government after overpaying his property taxes. His check was sealed in "red-tape". LOL!!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Another article from last year's city elections

This is over a year old. This is a Revenge of the Second City column by Richard Carnahan who wrote this as Chicagoans geared up for the 2007 municipal elections. This column focused on 2nd tier races and the 6th Ward was one of them...
Freddrenna M. Lyle is not wildly popular in her ward, which suffers from high unemployment and higher-than-average crime; in 2003, she was only able to manage about 40 percent of the vote against three challengers, including track star Willye White. Lyle held off the challenge and wisely supported the Big-Box Living Wage Ordinance this year, ensuring that none of her challengers can go to labor for seed money to run a decent campaign against her. Still, expect challenger Norington-Reaves to force a run-off in this contest. Norington-Reaves is a life-long Chicagoan who attended Disney Magnet and Northwestern, is young, attractive, and has deep roots in the ward. Norington-Reaves is an attorney and can likely come up with the seed money to try and raise some funds; if she can, there's no reason she can't beat Lyle. Still, Lyle is a fighter, both for her own career and her ward, so Norington-Reaves will have to run a perfect campaign to seriously jeopardize her.
What might the future hold is anybody's guess. Hopefully it might be different.

Jane A Neil Elementary School, 8555 S Michigan Ave

One of the many elementary schools located in the sixth ward. A one story school too, I wonder how many grades it holds. McDade is down the street on Indiana and then if you go further on Indiana you will be at John G. Shedd Elementary.

Shed is ever smaller than this school. Unless there have been changes, Shedd Elementary goes only to the 6th Grade starting with Kindergarten. After you've completed the 6th grade there then you're likely to transfer to Bennett Elementary located further south at 10115 South Prairie.

Picture courtesy of YoChicago.

Here's the school's website. I had no idea it was designed as a school for disabled students.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Majestic ranch on Wabash near 83rd

Another pic I found thru YoChicago. I almost wonder who designed this house because I'm really impressed!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ethnic Chicago: A Multicultural Portrait

Read the chapter on Chatham here.

Daley calls for $20 million in budget cuts

From Crain's...
The city of Chicago hopes to save $20 million this year through a series of cost-cutting measures that include a hiring freeze, elimination of overtime and an end to certain out-of-town trips.

Mayor Richard M. Daley announced the new initiatives, to be carried out throughout this year, on Thursday.

They are in addition to previously announced moves to save $67 million, including delaying non-union raises by six months, eliminating 80 vacant jobs and closing certain business tax loopholes.

“Even with our responsible projections for the 2008 budget, because the nation’s economy is bordering on a recession and because of the deepening housing foreclosure crisis, we’re on softer ground economically and in terms of our revenues this year,” the mayor said in a statement. “In addition, the harsh winter weather has forced greater spending.”

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Study: Tough Time for CPS Students Looking to College

A report from Chicago Public Radio.

A blog reviewing pancake houses

Let them know about the pancake house on East 87th Street. They seem to go around the Chicago area time for them to come to the south side.

Related post

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Let Your Voice Be Heard

On the subject of the Cook County Sales Tax touted as the highest sales tax in the nation. More info at the Uptown Update.

Awesome story about a CTA motorman

From the CTA Tattler! A motorman sees a pregnant woman trying to make a train and effectively looks out for her.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Postal inspectors in Chicago target scams with public-access TV show

Imagine that the US Postal Service on Chicago cable access. From the Tribune with a hat-tip to Gaper's Block...
In a bid to counter the growing number of fake-check scams, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago is branching out to a new medium: public-access television.

Inspectors plan to air a new show at least each month offering advice to consumers. "Don't Fall For It" will be hosted by Tom Brady, the inspector-in-charge for Chicago.

The agency launched its new effort this month on CAN-TV, focusing the first show on what investigators say is the leading scam in Chicago. The scams involve con artists sending out counterfeit checks, trying to persuade victims to wire back part of the money before realizing the checks have bounced.

Postal inspectors are producing the show inexpensively at their Chicago headquarters in a studio they typically use to make in-house training videos. They hope to reach a new audience as they try to educate the public.

"Whatever we can do to put the scammers out of business is what I want to do," Brady said.

The postal service Web site supports a link to , which has scam-prevention tips

The first cable effort includes an interview by David Colen, assistant inspector-in-charge, of a postal inspector who just returned from Nigeria and will address moves to head off the problem overseas.

The show next airs 8:30 p.m. Sunday on CAN-TV.

Time for a Con-Con?

From Illinoize...
I'm sure Rich will forgive me for using Illinoize to plug my BlogtalkRadio show, set to begin tonight at 6 p.m. John Bambenek of the Illinois Citizen's Coalition, a proponent of a Con-Con, will be my first guest on the hour-long show. I'll interview him, then open the phones up for questions. I'm hoping to get a ton of callers telling me what they would like to see in the state's Constitution. It's a long-distance call from Illinois, so use cell phones or VoiP if you've got it.
This is interesting and it's worth a listen if you have the time.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Chicago Weekly talks about Chatham

Read all about it here. Even discusses some of the dining, shopping, and a jazz club option. Published last year on Sept. 18th.

This blog made the aldermanic newsletter

I suppose all we have to do is see who might show up after reading the February newsletter. The blog she's referring to is a different blog because The Sixth Ward was started this past November. That blog is my blog, It's My Mind a blog I started in January 2005. Thanks for the recognition I hope that you'll read what JP Paulus (another contributor) and myself will present.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Congrats Ald. Lyle

She was elected chairman of the city Democratic party today according to the Sun-Times.
So much for cigar-chomping party bosses slating Democratic candidates in Cook County.

From now on there'll be a woman at the front of that smoke-filled room.

Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th) was elected city chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party on Wednesday, replacing Cook County Commissioner William Beavers.

Beavers was forced to relinquish the post he has long held because he is no longer a ward committeeman. He was defeated Feb. 5 by Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th), wife of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Il.)
I found this first among the Capitol Fax Morning Shorts today.

Illinois Handbook of Government

Checkout this handbook. This is a publication that has information about the state of Illinois published by the Illinois Secretary of State. Especially state executives, state legislators, even those who represent us in Congress bout the House and Senate. There is even a section on the US Constitution and the state constitution. Let me remind you that in Novemember it will have to be decided by us the voter whether or not we would like to have a constitutional convention in 2010. I've added this to the government links as well!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Building Social Animals

Gaper's Block provides a link to a city-sponsored website that is designed to bring together different community groups and individual Chicagoans. CitizenPowered is where you go!

Does anyone have any questions about getting updates?

There are two ways you can get updates from The Sixth Ward. First of all you can burn the feed. In the sidebar to the right if you see an orange rounded square you click on that and then there is a page for the feed. That gives you options to burn a feed.

There are several programs that you can use out there. I mostly use Google Reader. There's also Bloglines it's pretty good for those who want to subscribe to feeds. Some browsers such as Internet Explorer (especially version 7.0) that allows you to subscribe to feeds. In fact if you click on that rounded orange square you won't just go to the feed page it might send you to a page where it will only allow you to subscribe to said feed in the browser. Of course you might have to feel your way thru that one, I haven't figured out how to check out updates in a browser. Of course if you run into that problem what you might want to do is copy & paste the link into your chosen program such as Google Reader or Bloglines.

Some might choose another option that allows you to subscribe via email. Of course there are plenty of programs to choose for email such as Yahoo! Mail, GMail, and Hotmail to name some popular email programs. In addition to that if you have an Internet Service Provider such as Comcast or AT&T Yahoo! for example they offer email as well. All you have to do in the form also provided in the sidebar is submit your e-mail address (BTW, if you've got issues with the content in your email don't hesitate to let us know!). Of course in your email you have to verify whether or not you want to receive email updates from this blog.

Oh yeah I forgot to mention, when I got wise about feeds I started off with MyYahoo!. It's not as fancy as the two aforementioned options above, but it works. If you go to the feed page that should be an option as well. All you have to do is sign up at Yahoo! and then start an account of course this shouldn't be difficult if you already have a Yahoo! account especially for email. It might be even easier if you have internet service thru AT&T Yahoo.

Anyway if there are anymore questions please let me know. I'll answer them to the best of my knowledge.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Chicago Alderman Using Expense Accounts to Lease Luxury Cars

Something I think some of you would be interested in seeing. What some of our aldermen are spending taxpayer money on in doing the people's business. From FOX Chicago.

Hat-tip Newsalert.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Same Mistakes, Endlessly Repeated

A good post courtesy of Gapers Block's Ramsin Canon (he writes Revenge of the Second City there) and this is from his own blog called, Same Subject Continued. Here's a good quote and it should relate to seniors not only in gentrifying neighborhoods but other areas around the city where gentrification isn't a threat, yet...
The elderly are particularly susceptible members of society not only because of relative physical reasons, but because they are probably the most discriminated-against demographic in terms of employment. And that is for those who have the physical capacity to work. Their social networks are degraded because of death and movement. They are therefore much more likely to be poor and isolated.

Yet their value to a community is incalculable. Let's not paint with broad brushes-experience of the world brings prejudice along with wisdom-but a neighborhood's elders are its collective memory. They know the history of the neighborhood, they've worked through the hard times and seen changes that they never imagined. They are therefore more civically engaged, and have the spare time to commit to things like community policing, open-house meetings, and lobbying for stop signs and street lights.

A community without an active and visible senior citizen community has no awareness of itself, its traditions and history. It therefore has no sense of its own value, or cohesion. A neighborhood becomes just a realtor's term rather than a meaningful geographic and cultural indicator.

Our obsession is with youth; perhaps we feel like if we can shed the old, we shed the responsibility we have to the past. Our obsession is with the vaunted "creative class"; they legitimize our city as somehow more "cosmopolitan". Academic Richard Florida helped popularize the great "creative class" debate with his book The Rise of the Creative Class, a controversial book worth the time to read it. There is no doubt that the creative class is important to our city-whining about hipsters and yuppies aside-but they are but one part of a greater whole, necessary but not sufficient. If we don't defend the rights of every part of our neighborhoods, our great city becomes susceptible to devastation, like a body that hasn't built up antibodies.

The flight of senior citizens from Chicago is not a shame only because it represents our utter domination by moneyed interests and the victimization of a particularly susceptible group of Chicagoans, but for this loss of a vital pillar of so many of our communities. If we let our neighborhoods to be constantly repackaged and commodified, we end up with constantly resetting communities. Constantly throwing off collective wisdom and the bonds that reinforce mutual benefit and cooperation, and thus a city unable to avoid the same mistakes, endlessly repeated.

An idea on school funding in Illinois

You know the latest aldermanic newsletter made a statement about reforming public school financing to get them out of our property taxes. Let me share another solution. It sounds reasonable to me, but of course this is one of many.
A Democrat Governor proposes tax cuts, however fleeting, and Republican legislative leaders respond by asking, "How's he going to pay for them?"

These are confusing times to be a Republican in Illinois. When they are not letting the Democrats in charge off the hook for managing massive public systems into DEFCON 1 core meltdowns or for creating open-ended entitlement programs, they are rejecting tax cuts.

Nevertheless and in spite of themselves, Republicans will be presented this year with yet another opportunity to reconfigure the political balance of power in Illinois and reestablish their electoral relevance.

Against the backdrop of Governor Blagojevich's trivial, half-hearted "State of the State Address," House Speaker Michael Madigan allowed House Bill 750 to begin slithering its way though the General Assembly once again.

HB 750 is the legislative Rasputin of the Democrat-controlled General Assembly, which proposes to permanently increase the state income tax by 66% in exchange for temporary property tax relief.

Where would the net increase in state revenue go? Say it with me: to fund education.

And herein lies the Republican opportunity.

Rather than getting caught in the false debate about how much money for schools is enough, Republicans should tell Democrats to name their price. Increase the foundation level by 5%? 10%? 50%? Fine. Whatever.

But Republicans must hold fast to one stipulation in return for their blank check on funding.

For the City of Chicago, those dollars will no longer be attached to the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Those dollars will be attached to the individual CPS students so that their parents may send them to the school of their choosing, public or private, within the city.

This is something that Republicans as well as common-sense Independents and Democrats from Zion to Cairo can get behind because everybody gets it when it comes to the importance of their children's education.

Illinois families understand that today more than ever education is the gateway to opportunity.

Illinois families are aware of the increasing earning gap between college grads and non-college grads in our global, digital economy.

Illinois families have come to learn what a lot of Chicago families know from experience, which is the troubling reality that only 6 out of every 100 freshmen who entered a Chicago public high school this past September will earn a bachelor's degree (source: Consortium on Chicago School Research). 6 in 100.

Illinois families also intuitively comprehend that no matter where you live, when a system responsible for educating 400,000 children every year fails the overwhelming majority of those children every year, as CPS does, we all pay.
I'll get back to the aldermanic newsletter later. There's something else I want to share!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Customs Law: All Politics is Local

Something to consider although this post is just about two months old. I wonder if anyone out there has any gripes about how they choose their county judges. I've heard a few over the years.

Addition: Perhaps Illinois should try the Missouri Plan.

South Park Manor District

Copying this from the Chicago Bungalow Association...
The South Park Manor Historic District in Chatham, built between 1915 and 1927, features a great cluster of diverse bungalow designs due to the involvement of a myriad of developers and architects. PDF
Check out the PDF link. Hopefully you have Adobe Acrobat on your computers.

Picture from YoChicago!

You'll have to go to the Historic Districts page.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Broken Heart on the county budget situation

Read Craig Gernhardt's analysis here. It's pretty negative but you can always read what he says and come to your own conclusion.

Two houses on King Drive from Google Maps Street View

This is not too far from the intersection of 79th and King Drive looking directly west.

This is a nice looking house almost secluded with all the vegetation out front. Almost looks like a small stately manor.

Well I wish I could have a better view of this house, but this is an interesting place. Especially with a drive-way and a side garage. Maybe a bigger house than is typical in this neighborhood but it's isn't too uncommon. Obviously if there is a party this house won't take up too much space in the street would it.