Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ill. officials warn of fallout from ballot suit

The Chicago Bar Association filed the lawsuit this month claiming the wording of a constitutional question is misleading.

But Chicago Election Board Chairman Langdon Neal argues the state election hangs in the balance.

He says reprinting, then distributing the three million Cook County ballots alone by Election Day would be virtually impossible.

He adds that failure to get the ballot out could undermine everything from the vote for president to voting for judges. And he says the result will be "chaos."

Langdon says his counterparts across the state share that view.

A hearing on the lawsuit is Wednesday in Cook County.

Chicago Treasurer: City Investments Safe

The Dow finished up almost 500 points Tuesday…making up some lost ground from yesterday’s huge drop. But the wild swings of Wall Street aren’t hurting the city of Chicago’s investment portfolio.

Stephanie Neely is the treasurer of the city of Chicago. It’s her job to handle the city’s cash and investments…she’s responsible for anywhere from $5.5-$7 Billion. Today she had some reassuring words.

NEELY: The city’s portfolio of money is safe.

She says her first duty is to protect the city’s money.

NEELY: Typically I invest about 3 months. I’m tracked against a 90 day treasury bill. I only invest in very secure securities so I don’t invest in the stock market. I invest in US treasuries and agencies so the money is very safe.

Help public school students with your blog

I just got this email. I'm just passing this along in case any of you might be interested in this:
You and your blog readers could help thousands of public school kids by participating in the DonorsChoose.org Blogger Challenge, which starts on October 1. TechCrunch, BoingBoing, Engadget, BlogHer, Curbed, and many smaller bloggers are each creating challenge pages which list specific classroom requests in public schools--and then encouraging their readers to donate to those classroom requests. We hope you will consider participating, too.

During the last DonorsChoose.org Blogger Challenge, blog readers donated $420,000 toward classroom projects benefiting 75,000 students in low-income communities. This October, we're hoping to have an even bigger impact, and we keenly hope you will participate. Technorati is sponsoring the "generosity rankings" and Fortune magazine will be covering the bloggers whose readers help the most public school students.

All you would need to do is:

1. Pick a few classroom requests posted on DonorsChoose.org and add them to a challenge page which takes 1-2 minutes to set up. A quick glance at our search page...http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/search.html?zone=0
...will show you the volume and variety of classroom needs from which to choose.

If you're pressed for time, just tell me the kinds of classroom requests (technology, arts, literature) that would speak most to your readers, and we'll set up a challenge page for you.

2. Do a post on October 1 encouraging your readers to donate to any of the classroom requests on your challenge page. Your readers can give as little as $5.

3. (Optional) Publish a widget which pulls in the classroom requests you have selected and shouts out to your blog readers who have donated to those requests. (Widgets will be available for download on Monday, and I can pass along some cool mockups if you’d like to see what they look like).


DonorsChoose.org grew out of a high school in the Bronx where teachers saw their students going without the materials needed to learn. Our website provides an easy way for everyday people to address this problem. Public school teachers post project requests that range from a $100 classroom library, to a $600 digital projector, to a $1,000 trip to the zoo. People like you can choose which projects to fund and then get photos and thank-you letters from the classroom.

BACKGROUND ON THE 2008 DONORSCHOOSE.ORG BLOGGER CHALLENGE In October of 2007, bloggers competed to see who could rally the most support for public schools via DonorsChoose.org. Blog readers gave $420,000 to classroom projects benefiting 75,000 students in low-income communities. While A-list bloggers like Engadget and TechCrunch inspired great generosity, smaller blogs with really engaged readers generated even more!

The next DonorsChoose.org Blogger Challenge, running through the month of October, promises to have an even bigger impact. Technorati is sponsoring the rankings, and Fortune magazine is already committed to covering the event.

If you were to participate, we could help thousands more kids in public schools. I'd love to tell you more if you are interested.

Thank you for your consideration,
Now the next question would have to be what would be the benefit to our neighborhoods schools if this organization help more of our public school students?

Chicago home prices fall less than in U.S.

Prices of single-family homes plunged a record 16.35 percent in July from a year earlier, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

The Chicago area didn’t do as badly, with prices down 10 percent in July compared with July 2007, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller numbers.

The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas fell 0.9 percent in July from June, S&P said in a statement Tuesday. Since the peak of the housing boom in July 2006, the index has dropped 19.5 percent, it said.

In the Chicago area, prices were down 0.35 percent in July compared with June.

$2.5 billion plan to Privatize Midway Airport

The private consortium that would take over includes Midway Investment and Development Co. LLC, Citi Infrastructure Investors, John Hancock Life Insurance Co. and YVR Airport Services Ltd., Daley said at a news conference.

The lease term would be 99 years, and, under state law, the city must use 90 percent of the lease's net proceeds for infrastructure projects around the city, Daley said.
Here's more from Crain's:
The deal will net the city more than $1 billion, the mayor said, after paying off the airport’s debt.

The bid came in at the low end of initial estimates by market observers when the city first reached an agreement with Midway’s airlines on the terms of a privatization deal.

But given the current turbulence in the financial markets and a recent downturn in Midway traffic, landing a deal of this size has to be considered a “homerun for the city,” says privatization expert Robert Poole.
Even more from the Sun-Times:
In exchange for the massive up-front fee that dwarfs the $1.8 billion Chicago Skyway windfall, the private operator will pocket airport revenues that topped $130 million in 2006, including parking, concessions, and passenger facility charges.

That means heavy motivation to squeeze more revenue out of Midway by making greater use of Midway’s 43 gates, creating more concession space, charging higher prices for food and retail items and increasing parking fees.

“Our experience shows that private operators work very hard to drive traffic through the airport. That’s really the greatest benefit for them. And they do that by really providing the goods and services people want at fair prices. So, that’s what we believe we’ll see,” said Chief Financial Officer Paul Volpe.

Currently, Midway has 13,500 parking spaces and 43,000 square feet of concessions, including 12 restaurants and nine retail stores. The airport’s five runways handled 304,000 aircraft operations in 2007.

Buoyed by the $2.4 billion gravy train of revenue generated by privatizing the Chicago Skyway and downtown parking garages, Daley has moved to unload city assets at a record pace.
One final detail that you will see in all of these articles on this same subject...
If the FAA and the City Council approve, Midway Investment and Development Company LLC will take over the landlocked airport-in-a-neighborhood that came back from the dead after the demise of Midway Airlines.
What do you think about this?

Obama's Chicago in Decline

Wall Street Journal:

In the past week or so, we have learned more about Alaska than we ever cared to know, including details about tiny Wasilla, where Sarah Palin once served as mayor. But about Mr. Obama's hometown we hear very little. Chicago, let it be said, is a place in decline. In recent years -- and well before the current economic turmoil -- it has lost its two leading banks and thousands of jobs in the futures and commodities markets. Not only does it have the highest retail sales tax in the country, at 10.25%, it is the only city with a head tax on employment. Its public schools are in terrible shape. The city's middle-class population continues to flee. (Chicago lost 63,000 people between 2000 and 2006.) Meanwhile corruption and crime, not to mention machine politics, continue to thrive. In Chicago, it is no big deal to discover that an alderwoman's boyfriend is a member of the Gangster Disciples; this was the same gang that was given voter-registration money by Mayor Richard M. Daley. Chicago's murder rate is three times that of New York.

If there were ever a place in need of "change" and "reform," it is Chicago. And yet, Mr. Freddoso argues, reform for Mr. Obama "is something to discuss during election campaigns, not to be implemented or followed" when it might jeopardize his ambitions. Mr. Freddoso can't find a single example of a cause on which Mr. Obama has risked his political capital. This fact, Mr. Freddoso notes, "does not separate him from most other politicians in either party." It simply means that he is "like most of the others."

Is murder out of control? Are the Chicago schools failing minority children? Is the local economy faltering? These have not been Mr. Obama's concerns. He has been a down-the-line Chicago pol on such matters -- decrying police misconduct, calling for yet higher teacher salaries, and urging new subsidies for the state's industries, such as ethanol and coal. As a state senator, he routinely backed earmarks to reward potential allies. Emile Jones, the president of the Illinois state senate, pushed along Mr. Obama's rise by giving him meaningless ethics bills to shepherd through final approval after other people had done the hard work.

If there is nothing terribly shocking in any of this, it does dull the glow of Mr. Obama's halo; and some of his dodgier Chicago affiliations may remove it. In 1986, Mr. Obama's political mentor, state Sen. Alice Palmer, returned from attending the 27th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union optimistic about the U.S.S.R.'s future. A decade later she brought Mr. Obama -- already a member of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's black-nationalist church -- together with 1960s terrorist Bill Ayers, who would hold the first fund-raiser for Mr. Obama when he was running to fill Ms. Palmer's state-senate seat. Mr. Obama and Mr. Ayers worked together on the boards of two foundations.

Via Newsalert!

IL Channel: Layoff Concerns from Minorities in Government

On the schedule this week from the Illinois Channel featuring representatives of Minorities in Government sounding the alarm on the decreasing number of minorities working in the Illinois state government. Because of this the state could lose federal funds.

Events on tap for Burnham Plan birthday

One design group will sponsor an international competition to develop a high-speed rail terminal in the West Loop. Another will push plans to add four miles of lakefront parkland on the Far North and South sides.

A top civic panel plans a campaign to change the way the region funds transportation projects, and others are reaching into their pockets to build new bike trails and expand a park.

That’s a sampling of what civic Chicago has in mind to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Daniel Burnham’s famed Plan of Chicago.

“We want to commemorate the centennial year, feeling not just that we had a great party, but that we’re working better together as a region for the future,” says Jack Davis, a vice-president at Metropolis 2020. If that occurs, he adds, “Ultimately, we’ll end up with more money and jobs for all of us.”
If you don't know a whole lot about Daniel Burnham read the rest of this article or check out this wiki on this famed architect.

Cop wants charges upgraded in off-duty beating

A Chicago police detective who was beaten while off-duty on Chicago's North Side over a week ago is reacting to the news that the man accused of beating him will not face a more serious charge.

Detective Steven Amato says he announced that he was a police officer during the beating. The beating took place after the man allegedly ran into the detective's personal car.

Detective Amato and others believe the charges should be more serious be
cause the attack was against a police officer. The police officer's alleged attacker, 27-year-old John Jasa,s remains free after attending court last week, where a judge refused to charge him with attacking a police officer. That follows a decision by the state's attorney's office to file what is "perceived" as a lesser felony because, they say, Detective Amato was off duty. The veteran cop counters, saying a Chicago police officer is "always" on duty.

Beaten Chicago Police Detective Steve Amato left court feeling assaulted all over again. Not only was the man accused of attacking him not charged with battering a police officer, but the hearing the 18-year police department veteran was told to attend Monday morning took place last week without him or his testimony.
And we might wonder why police aren't as vigorous in doing their jobs as I'm sure most of us think they should be.

This story is via 2nd City Cop who doesn't believe that they have much support from the State's Attorney office.

Also the Capitol Fax talks about the story about police personnel issues and discusses this story as well as one involving CTA President Huberman attempting to change his police pension. That's in addition the reduced scheduling for garbage pick-up.

City officials say layoffs may be coming

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley will layoff about one-thousand city employees and eliminate about three-thousand vacant positions to come up with a balanced city budget.

Among those expected to be laid off are about 300 members of the Laborers Union Local 1001, whose members work in the Department of Streets and Sanitation. The layoffs could mean garbage collection and tree trimming would not be as frequent.
I could've sworn I saw another story about the possibility of a change in the garbage pick-up schedule and I just found it at the Sun-Times:
That's likely to mean major changes in garbage collection, tree trimming and other housekeeping services. Possibilities range from lengthening the time between pickups -- once-a-week now in most neighborhoods, twice-a-week in congested areas -- to privatizing recycling and shrinking crew sizes.

"They put an average of 350 trucks out-a-day. To cut 300 bodies -- they're probably gonna go to every other week pickup. That's probably the only way they can do it. Either that, or every 10 days," said Lou Phillips, business manager of Laborers Local 1001.

"You're gonna have to look at your garbage an extra three or four days -- and I don't know when they'll be able to get to your bulk. It's gonna create a rodent problem. You might even see a difference in the Loop area, as clean as the Loop is. That's the showcase."

A top mayoral aide, who asked to remain anonymous, insisted that weekly pickups would be maintained. That likely means greater use of crews with one laborer on a truck, instead of two.

To help plug the budget gap, Local 1001 has also been lobbying for a $10 monthly garbage collection fee and for the right to make city pickups at small businesses in exchange for a fee. It was not known whether Daley would propose the garbage fee, which some aldermen view as a backdoor property tax increase.
Tough times ahead!

Fighting the powers that be

Rich Miller explains why he continues to support a state constitutional convention.

South Side Bailout Blues

Division street talks about the bailout bill that failed yesterday and any possible implications it might have on the Presidential race. Especially taking a look at the two south side Congressman who publicly supports Obama, however, were unwilling to vote for this bailout bill in Congress.

Michael Reese Hospital files for bankruptcy protection

Well this shouldn't be a surprise since they may not have their campus if the city has their way. Either the city will buy it or the city will just take it. Then again it has been in the news that the hospital has been struggling.

The South Side hospital said in a Chapter 11 petition filed in federal court in Chicago Sunday that it has $50 million to $100 million in debt and assets of $10 million to $50 million.

The hospital notified state regulators in June that it planned to close the hospital by yearend because of financial difficulties and because the city wants its 37-acre campus for redevelopment, possibly for use as an Olympic Village site.

Court papers show the hospital’s 20 largest unsecured creditors are owed $19.4 million, including $6.62 million due to Mundelein-based Medline Industries Inc., which owns the property and leases the hospital to Michael Reese.

Other large unsecured creditors include University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago (owed $2.3 million) and ComEd ($2.1 million).
Related: Condemn hospital: alderman

Gov, ministers meet again

Gov. Blagojevich on Monday had his second meeting with Chicago ministers since the Rev. James Meeks proposed a $120 million reform plan for 12 low-scoring high schools around the state. Blagojevich would like to see private and federal dollars support the idea, a spokesman said. Another meeting is expected this week.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Chatham Upscale

I was perusing this website Highbeam.com this past spring. In fact I posted one old article here on the blog that I found thru that website back in April. Anyway here's an excerpt from this new article I found.

It was published in the Chicago Sun-Times on December 7, 1990:
Chatham prides itself on reflecting the comfortable lifestyle of the "Cosby Show." Housing statistician Gary S. Meyers estimates a 1991 median family income of $34,513, roughly comparable to the North Side's DePaul area. The median age is 30, comparable to Albany Park.

"Basically, it's an aging community," said the Rev. Michael J. Nallen, the pastor for 20 years at St. Dorothy's Catholic Church in the neighborhood. "People stay here a long time. Some people live here for 40 years."

Chatham home prices are reasonable - if you can find one. Available homes are frequently snapped up by insiders who are tipped off by friends and relatives.

"It's really a stable community," said Nallen. "It's nice to see the concern people have for their neighborhood. People really keep up the property. There is a strong sense of civic duty." Litterbugs are likely to receive a scolding.

The neighborhood features easy Loop access via the Dan Ryan Expy. and CTA trains.
Nallen said Chatmam Park Place undoubtedly will attract young families to the neighborhood. After Nallen asked about town house prices, he added with a chuckle: "I'll think I'll stay here in the rectory."

At a ceremony opening the development, Mayor Daley said: "We need all types of housing: for lower-income, middle-income and upper-middle-income people." Daley praised Travis as a "citizen who has pioneered in many areas of the city."

Lynda Williams, project director for the Chatham Business Association, sees some younger folks taking charge in the South Side neighborhood. "Most of the businesses moving in now are (managed by) young people," Williams said.

"Five years ago, you'd always see businesses moving in and out, especially on 79th Street. They did not have the proper business training; the younger people have been going to classes that teach them how to be affective business people."
I really like the last two paragraphs here. I wonder what the scene is on 79th Street. What about 87th or 75th Street?

I have other articles I've save. I might have another excerpt from this article and the other articles I've saved to my hard-drive later on.

Rep. Jackson on the bailout

Lynn Sweet:

"This bill is simply a band aid not a cure for the financial crisis, and it does little for the hard-working Americans who will pay for it. It does not go far enough in addressing the systemic and terminal problems of our financial system. It further privatizes profits and socializes the losses. This crisis started because of the home mortgage market, yet this legislation merely suggests that the Treasury Secretary implement a plan to mitigate foreclosures and to encourage servicers of mortgages to modify loans. There is no explicit directive to actively restructure mortgages. Furthermore, the bill does not allow bankruptcy judges to restructure troubled mortgages.

"To heal the systemic problems in our financial system we need to treat the cause, not only the symptoms. Congress needs to pass and the president needs to sign into law the following provisions: 1) a second stimulus to help those squeezed by the financial crisis; 2) a substantial investment in infrastructure which could jump start the economy while creating jobs, and; 3) a program that helps keep taxpayers in their homes. This bill does not contain provisions that explicitly help borrowers restructure their mortgages. Buying 'trash (bad mortgages) for cash ($700 billion bailout)' may not cure our financial system, since it was these bad mortgages that engineered this market collapse," said Jackson.

Via The Capitol Fax!

Indict or impeach?

For those of you who may follow state politics, I just wonder if the politics in Illinois has just gone from bad to worse. I hear a lot of chatter about how the Governor performs and just as easily there's some chatter on his ethics.

How can this governor recover if the Tribune writes an editorial talking about not only his indictment but a possible impeachment?
After what has happened in the last few days, it's more likely that Gov. Rod Blagojevich will be indicted or impeached or both.

• The Tribune reported on Sunday that convicted political fixer Tony Rezko has talked to federal prosecutors and may cooperate in their investigation of the governor's administration. At closing arguments in Rezko's trial, a federal prosecutor told jurors that his crimes involved "the highest levels of power in Illinois." Rezko has refused to help investigators—until, apparently, now.

• The Illinois appellate court on Friday issued a ruling that could provide reason for the legislature to remove Blagojevich. He decided to spend tens of millions of dollars to expand a state health care insurance program even though the legislature wouldn't approve it. The court told Blagojevich to stop the program—and said his administration can't even identify how many people have enrolled in it.

Federal prosecutors will pursue their investigation of the Blagojevich administration's notorious pay-to-play politics. Having the cooperation of Rezko, once one of Blagojevich's closest confidants, would greatly help to determine if the governor was involved in criminal wrongdoing. All the rest of us—lawmakers, political leaders, citizens—can do is wait for the prosecutors to complete their investigation.

But Blagojevich's attempt to go around lawmakers and spend money they didn't approve for a vast health care program may be just as insidious as his pay-to-play politics. His effort to expand health care through the program known as FamilyCare was soundly rejected by the Illinois legislature. But he did it anyway, spending millions of dollars to broaden eligibility for state-funded health care to people with higher family incomes.
Worth a read if you follow the link to the full article.

Homeowner links cameras to city cops

Charles Hill installed five surveillance cameras outside the 3,720-square-foot home he's building in West Chatham after local kids broke $3,700 worth of architectural windows.

From now on he won't be the only one checking the video when something bad happens on his block.

Hill has become the first private homeowner to take the city up on its unprecedented offer to connect privately owned exterior surveillance cameras to Chicago's 911 emergency center.

"It'll do wonders for the block. God forbid, something mysteriously happens in the community. Those cameras could provide the city with some edge -- wherever it takes them," Hill said.

"Some people talk about the ACLU and all these privacy rights. But if a crime takes place, those individuals had to come from somewhere. I don't care if it's my brother or my mother. If those cameras do what they're supposed to do, whoever suffers will suffer."

As for the window vandalism, Hill said, "A lot of people said, 'Board the windows up.' I just refused to do it. I caught these kids."
In some respects I would rather this than having Chicago Police cameras all over the place.

Vote no on state con-con question

MountProspect Times:

Every 20 years, the state must schedule a vote on whether a constitutional convention should be called to rewrite the Illinois constitution. That's just one of many provisions that make the 1970 constitution an excellent framework for governing Illinois. And that's why residents should vote No on the convention question on the ballot Nov. 4.

The simple fact is: No compelling reason exists to junk the state constitution and spend perhaps up to $80 million to hash out the powers of the three branches of government and a new bill of rights. We have a good constitution that serves the state. That's why there is no hew and cry for a new one.

If you've got con-con on your mind in November then I say you should read this. My position on this is in favor of a con-con. However between now and November 4, I want to look at any argument for or against.

Via CapFax morning shorts!

Chicago's toxic air

People living in Chicago and nearby suburbs face some of the highest risks in the nation for cancer, lung disease and other health problems linked to toxic chemicals pouring from industry smokestacks, according to a Tribune analysis of federal data.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spent millions of dollars to assess the dangers that air pollution poses but has failed to fulfill promises to make the research more accessible to the public. So the Tribune is posting the information on its Web site, where users can easily find nearby polluters and the chemicals going into their air.

Those who look up Cook County will see it ranked worst in the nation for dangerous air pollution, based on 2005 data. The Tribune also found Chicago was among the 10 worst cities in the U.S.

The factory with the highest risk score in Chicago is a steel mill on the edge of upscale Lincoln Park, a neighborhood where it isn't uncommon to find people buying organic dog food.
This article is worth your time. I'm sure this article might scare you, but no one can argue with this idea of clear air. This can include factories or automobiles. What can be done to clean it up?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A real (7th-inning) stretch

In this animated video Daley makes a visit to a bar in Wrigleyville courtesy of the Tribune. Hat-tip to Craig Gernhardt.

If you don't already have this on your computer this video will require Quicktime.

Sun-Times: Rezko talking; Federal probe of guv & wife “at top speed”

Posted on the Capitol Fax yesterday. Might Rezko contribute to an indictment of Governor Rod Blagojevich?

Want to buy some swamp?

WestNorth blog takes a look at TIFs in the southwestern neighborhood of Hegewisch. They also take aim at this downtown TIF that is set to expire near the end of the year.

Chicagoans in for Property Tax Shocker

Chicago property tax bills will land in mailboxes this week and some residents might be in for a surprise, according to Cook County Assessor James Houlihan.

HOULIHAN: We've seen the median, that's the midpoint, and we see that there's an 8 percent increase, but in some neighborhoods that increase will be much more dramatic.

Houlihan says less affluent communities will be hit the hardest. He says half of all homeowners in the Garfield Park neighborhood will see an increase of about 20 percent or more on their tax bill.

The government watchdog Civic Federation says the problem lies in Illinois' convoluted tax code, and the lack of annual assessments in Cook County. Property tax bills for this year are based on 2006 assessments. Those occurred before the housing market slump.
Would anyone on this blog like to share how they're making out with property taxes and other necessities that must be paid for?

Daley promises more police hires, won't say when

Mayor Richard Daley says his administration is working on hiring more Chicago police officers but offered no time frame for the positions.

Daley spoke Saturday, addressing a pledge that he would hire more employees to work on public safety. Chicago police superintendent Jody Weis also has promised aldermen that he would hire more officers.

The mayor blamed the economic crisis and dropping revenues for the delay in hires. Daley says the city has to reduce personnel costs.
In the Tribune, Daley says that the lack of police officers isn't hurting the city:
Mayor Richard Daley on Saturday dismissed the notion that his administration's failure to make good on a pledge to hire more police is affecting public safety, even as Chicago combats growing violent crime.

"No, no," said Daley when asked about the lack of new hires and the impact on safety. When pressed, Daley bristled and said, "It just won't."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

How many of you watched the debates last night?

Normally I don't watch Presidential debates. Well I would imagine primary debates are worse. Still this one was pretty good of course as a wrestling fan I had to give up Friday Night Smackdown but that's besides the point.

Anyway who do you think won? I thought McCain did pretty good last night. Some of the talking heads agreed saying that Obama was too much on the defensive. On the other hand some talking heads on TV last night said that McCain's thinking is in the past.

Today I decided to look for some post debate wrap-ups if you still haven't figured out who won.

Distorting History - Greg Mankiw
Here's a debate poll courtesy of Instapundit - Instapundit.com
Economic Jabs, Then Punches On World Affairs - Washington Post
Foreign-Policy Exchanges Highlight Sharp Differences - Wall-Street Journal
Obama Failed at His Number One Task  - David Yepson, Des Moines Register
Tie goes to Obama - Slate
Obama and McCain face off - Salon
Fact Check: Kissinger Defends McCain's Iran Stance - Political Radar
Pre-Debate Potpourri - The Political Realm

Grocery for Bronzeville

There's an oasis coming to Chicago's food desert.
Roundy's Supermarkets, based in Milwaukee, has signed a letter of intent to build a 68,000-square-foot, full service grocery store at 39th and State in historic Bronzeville.

"It's a great opportunity to serve an underserved area," said Robert Mariano, the former Dominick's chief now serving as chairman and CEO of Roundy's. "People will be able to stay in their community to do their food shopping. They won't have to drive, take the bus or shop where they work and schlep their groceries home."

Planning and Development Commissioner Arnold Randall said he's working with the developer of the proposed shopping mall anchored by Roundy's on an unspecified subsidy from the Bronzeville tax increment financing district.

The vacant 8.7-acre site is one of 45 parcels identified by the city as possible sites for new grocery stores. It's also one of the best locations because it's near the CTA and the Dan Ryan Expy. and it's sandwiched between mixed-income communities being built on sites of two former CHA developments: Robert Taylor Homes and Stateway Gardens.
Another possibility if the Chesterfield Community Council would like to bring another grocery store to this part of the South Side and replace that Family Dollar on 87th and King Drive.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Black politicians prosper in Obama's home state

In fact, segregation, in combination with machine politics, played a large role since 1928 in Illinois' contributing 16 black members of Congress _ 14 in the House and two in the Senate. More recently, though, a black candidate for statewide office won every Illinois county, including rural, white ones.

"The main explanation for the large number of blacks in Congress from Illinois is the fact that residential segregation patterns in south Chicago created a firmly black-majority district long before they existed in other northern cities," said David Canon, a University of Wisconsin political science professor. "African-Americans are rarely elected in House districts that are not black majority."

Chicago's political machine, which rewarded those who could bring in important voting blocs, also helped black politicians rise as the black population grew.

"The machine politics of Chicago was based on everybody getting its share and coalitions, and everybody got a share of the pie," said Kent Redfield, a University of Illinois-Springfield political science professor.

The opportunities for black Chicago politicians were rooted in the Great Migration. Early in the 20th century hundreds of thousands of blacks left the impoverished South and its legally enforced brand of discrimination for the North, where they could find better-paying jobs in quickly expanding industries.

From 1920 to 1940, the number of blacks in Illinois more than doubled to 387,466, 5 percent of the population. Now, the black population hovers around 15 percent, with about a million black Chicago residents alone.
This wasn't the only article I found on this subject, however, I have to take some time to look for it. In the meanwhile go read the whole thing.

Englewood Residents Say Cop was Trigger Happy

There's no dispute over the fact that 17-year-old Marvin Williams had a gun when he was shot by a Chicago police officer last week. But neighborhood residents who saw the shooting are convinced the cop was trigger happy. And as Chicago Public Radio's Robert Wildeboer reports, residents are just as sure that the officer won't be punished.

A young woman named Kenyatta was walking from the bus stop near Ashland and 70th on Chicago's South Side last week when she saw the police approach someone a couple short blocks ahead of her.

KENYATTA: So I heard the police officer saying, drop it, drop the gun, drop the gun. So I guess, I think the boy dropped the gun and tried to take off but the police just shot him. Bang bang. Two times.

Best of the South Side 2008: Grand Crossing & Chatham

Chicago Weekly:
In some ways, Grand Crossing and adjacent Chatham are like a case study in urban history. Both were originally settled by European immigrants working on the railroads and, later on, in factories. Both neighborhoods prospered during the first half of the 20th century. And starting in the 1950s, both were integrated; but here is where the two diverge. Grand Crossing saw a typical case of white flight, blockbusting by corrupt realtors, and subsequent economic stagnation. Chatham, on the other hand, integrated slightly later and learned from the mistakes of other neighborhoods. The whites still left, but their institutions and community groups were peacefully turned over to the new black residents. According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, Chatham “has the distinction of being perhaps the only neighborhood in Chicago that developed from a European American middle-class community into one composed of middle-class African Americans.” To this day Chatham is more comfortable, while Grand Crossing is less well-off.
After that long paragraph describing the neighborhood, then there are places you should visit. Have any of you been to these places?

What the heck is going on in Chicago?

The Capitol Fax takes a look at the Policing situation here.

Cook County to start paying awards

A story from the Tribune about how Cook County will have to pay 4 people more than $100,000 for politically motivated hiring and promotions:
Cook County will pay more than $100,000 each to four victims of illegal political patronage as part of 108 awards announced Thursday by a court-appointed hiring monitor.

Julia Nowicki awarded about $3 million to people who lost out on jobs and promotions because of politics between August 2004 and February 2007.

The awards, ranging from $250 to $323,000, will be paid by the county in the next 60 days.

One of the biggest—$130,000—went to Margaret Bageanis, an administrative assistant in the county's Animal Control Department since 1988.

Bageanis said that for years she did the job of her boss, the department's business manager, because it was held by a series of political appointees who weren't doing the work. Bageanis, 62, later went on disability leave for stress.
Some will see this as a Chicago tradition costing taxpayer's money.

Con-Con '88

Well this is a sort of throwback edition. The Champaign County clerk offers a look at how the Con-Con ballot question was worded back in 1988. It was defeated back then, apparently overwhelmingly. You can compare that to what's supposed to be seen on our ballots in November.

You'll need Adobe Acrobat to view the file!

Via The Capitol Fax morning shorts!

Illinois Unemployment Rate Up in All Metro Areas

All 12 metropolitan areas in Illinois are reporting a jump in unemployment rates.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says metro areas recorded their highest unemployment rates since 1990. Rockford had the state's highest unemployment rate at 9.5 in August. That was a 3.1 percent increase from a year ago.

In the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet metro area, the rate was 7.1 percent, up more than 2 percent from last August.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A 4th Option

True Chicago says that there should be a 4th type of Chicago neighborhood that are mixed economically, socially, and racially. However such a neighborhood is not gentrifying. Read the whole thing, hat tip Belmont Heights.

Black students improve on ISAT, scores still lag behind white students

Black elementary school students attending Chicago Public Schools continue to improve on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test each school year.

Black students went from 54.2 percent meeting or exceeding state standards on the ISAT in the 2006-2007 school year, to 58.3 percent in the 2007-2008 school year. And since 2001, when the percentage of Black students meeting or exceeding state standards was 30.5 percent, the percentage has nearly doubled, according to CPS officials.

But they still lag behind their white counterparts.

In the 2006-2007 academic year, 85.3 percent of white students met or exceeded state standards on the ISAT, while 85 percent met or exceeded state standards in 2007- 2008.

Each year, the ISAT is given to public school students in third through eighth grade. Overall, CPS students improved across the board in reading, math and science.
Now the question I want to ask and hopefully parents as well is why are black students lagging as far as the scores on these standardized test?

New Black-owned grocery store offers a fresh market

It's not the Chatham Food Center or even located in the Chatham neighborhood, but there's still a black-owned grocery out there:
After watching a television news special on the availability– or lack thereof–of fresh foods, especially fruits and vegetables, in some of the city’s minority communities, a Black entrepreneur was moved to take action.

Karriem Beyah knew it was time for him to fulfill his lifelong dream of owning his own grocery store.

Beyah, a native Chicagoan, bought the space that is now Farmers Best Market, 1424 W. 47th St., in June. The store is purposely located between a Black neighborhood and a Hispanic one, with Chinatown and Bridgeport nearby, Beyah told the Defender. He chose this location because of the multicultural area.

“I would see these businesses flourishing in other communities and wonder why it wasn’t in African American communities. I said when I got the opportunity I will do it myself, and it stopped being a question,” Beyah said.

The store has been open since July 1 but will have its grand opening October 1.

Beyah credits working in his godfather’s grocery store as a child for his passion for the grocery business. He went on to spend 19 years in corporate America, working for Dean Foods, before starting his own distribution company.

Beyah said statistics show that African Americans don’t shop where Hispanics shop, so his goal was to break the barrier and create a place where everyone could come together and feel comfortable.
Now if we could find a grocery store that could replace that Dollar Store on 87th and King Drive.

Illinois’ forgotten middle-skill jobs

Well I'm not going to even try to excerpt this document. You can go read it yourself. All you have to do is use PDF (Download Acrobat Reader here). And at your leisure, especially if you wish to say print this document off, you can read this 24-page document. This is concerning those jobs that require more than a high school dimploma but less than a bachelor's degree. Via The Capitol Fax morning shorts.

Bus Brush with Former Alderman

The Blogmaster at The Rey Eye's Going Public blog talks about her encounter with former Alderman Burton Nataurus.

Comptroller going ahead wth cuts, doesn't trust governor

As Illinoisans wait to see what Gov. Rod Blagojevich does next with the state budget, one state officeholder says he couldn’t take the chance of leaving his budget in the hands of a governor he doesn’t trust.

State lawmakers voted overwhelmingly this week to restore more than $220 million in budget cuts made by Blagojevich. That’s designed to keep state parks and historic sites from closing this fall and prevent or reverse hundreds of layoffs in state government.

But Comptroller Dan Hynes’ office isn’t included in that bill — by his choice. A nearly $3 million reduction for his office, including 15 layoffs that occurred earlier this month, will stand.

Hynes said in an interview with The State Journal-Register on Wednesday that he turned down lawmakers’ offer to be included in the restoration measure because he couldn’t put his employees through more of the unknown and the potential “whiplash” of what Blagojevich could do next.

“I couldn’t run my office under a cloud of uncertainty and make decisions because of the whims of the governor,” Hynes said. “I just don’t trust this governor, and I felt that I had to make my decisions.”
Now that there is news about a possible indictment for the Governor, we have an article talking about one of the main issues many folks in state government has with him. The trust factor. No one trusts him to follow thru or indeed to be trusted not to tinker with budgets just because. This is unfortunate really.

Condemn hospital: alderman

Chicago should condemn the Michael Reese Hospital campus to make way for a $1.1 billion Olympic Village and get around a property owner refusing to assume the rising cost of demolition and environmental cleanup, the local alderman said Wednesday.

"Condemn the property. Use the city's power of eminent domain. We should pursue the property with whatever means are at our disposal. ... I'm going to encourage the city to do that," said Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), whose ward includes the Michael Reese site.

Daley won't pay cleanup tab for Reese site Olympic Village site in limbo Tell us: Should Michael Reese Hospital be condemned? Special section: Chicago 2016

"It'll take us longer to acquire the property. But we'll get it, and there'll be plenty of time to develop the site for the Olympics."

One day after the Chicago Sun-Times reported that City Hall had broken off talks with Medline Industries, owner of the Reese site, Mayor Daley held out hope of breaking the stalemate. In fact, he insisted the city was "still negotiating" with Medline.
Assuming Chicago gets the Summer Olympics in 2016, they'll have to utilize an alternate site for the Olympic Village.

A pair of Con-Con items

Illinois Review discusses the wording of the Con-Con question on the November ballot:
Ralf Seiffe's "Bruno vs clout" that ran in Wednesday's IR demands more attention than it got yesterday.  Ralf observed a hearing Wednesday about the wording on the November ballot's Con-Con question.  The Secretary of State's instructions tell voters if you don't vote, it'll be counted as a no vote and will work against the statewide effort.
With all the controversy over Barack Obama's "present" votes in the IL Senate, how ironic that a whole ballot could define once and for all that a "present" or not voting means a "No" vote!
There are certainly those out there who doesn't want voters to call for a Constitutional Convention.

In any case here is a more critical argument against a con-con by the Illinois State Rifle Association:
The ISRA is urging state hunters, sportsmen and gun owners to vote "NO" this November on a ballot initiative to hold a state constitutional convention. The ISRA believes that holding a constitutional convention would open the door to significant changes in the state constitution and
thus imperil the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

"The delegate count in a constitutional convention would certainly be stacked in Chicago's favor," commented ISRA Executive Director, Richard Pearson. "Consequently, Mayor Daley would have carte blanche to craft the Illinois Constitution to his liking. Daley has said in the past that, if it were up to him, nobody would be allowed to own a gun. You can bet that if Daley is given the opportunity to meddle with the state constitution, he would seek that end."
I would still imagine that if there was to be a provision in the state constitution for gun ownership, as there currently is in the current state constitution, it should still be in line with the DC v. Heller ruling by the US Supreme Court. If anyone decided to use the state constitution to make gun ownership difficult for citizens it's possible that someone could make a case to overturn such a possible provision in the constitution. This is whether or not the state document is either amended or re-written.

Links to both stories via The Capitol Fax morning shorts!

Chicago Police having trouble hiring more officers

With more violent crimes being committed in Chicago, the police department can't get approval from City Hall to hire enough officers to keep up with the number of officers who are leaving.

Like other city agencies and departments, the police department is caught up in budget problems facing the city. Mayor Richard Daley has said the city must cut personnel costs but hasn't said where those cuts can be made.
Futhermore this AP report says that the Fraternal Order of Police could be down by 400 officers, it is already down by 250 thanks to firings and retirements.

Here's more from the Tribune:
Police Supt. Jody Weis, facing criticism over rising homicide rates, promised aldermen to expand the department by 75 officers as part of an effort to put more officers on the street. But City Hall has not approved department requests to hire enough officers to keep up with retirements and other attrition.

Mayor Richard Daley has said the city must reduce personnel costs in the face of a dismal economy and a gaping budget hole but has not specified where the cuts could be made at this point.

Monique Bond, spokeswoman for the Police Department, said Weis is still committed to hiring as many officers as he can but said the department is not the only agency in the city facing budget challenges.

"The top priority of the Chicago Police Department is to put more officers on the street," Bond said. "But we can look across city departments and see the impact of the economy on all of them. Yes, public-safety agencies are critical components in any city government, but we do have some constraints we have to deal with."

With retirements, firings and resignations, the department is down 250 officers and could be down more than 400 officers by the end of the year, said Mark Donahue, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, the union representing patrol officers. The department has lost about 375 officers and hired only 125 since the beginning of the year, Donahue said.

School ordered to return $1M mistakenly given by state

According to the Sun-Times a dormant private school, Loop Lab School, has 30-days to return state money that was supposed to have gone to Pilgrim Baptist Church in Bronzeville. The governor planned to let the school keep the money because they broke the grant deal agreement:
The state said the school failed to disclose that its director, Chandra Gill, had a felony conviction even the governor later granted her a pardon; didn’t open classes in a high-rise at 318 W. Adams, as promised, because it didn’t obtain necessary city permits; and didn’t disclose a Human Rights Commission sexual harassment judgment against it, as required.
If you didn't already know the school was leasing space at the church.

ADDITION: More from the Tribune...
The school used the money to buy the second floor in a downtown office building near the Sears Tower and renovate the space for classrooms.
This was pointed out by Rich Miller.

Daley To Meeks: Don't Go To Wrigley Field

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is urging state Sen. James Meeks not to bring his protest against the disparity in funding of rich and poor public school districts to the streets outside Wrigley Field.

Meeks, who led a two-day boycott of Chicago Public Schools to highlight the funding disparity, is promising to have 6,000 protesters ringing Wrigley Field during next week's opening playoff game.

Daley, who happens to be a die-hard White Sox fan, says the city has waited a long time for the Cubs to become good enough to contend for a spot in the World Series. He said Meeks shouldn't disturb the team.
Yeah I think Meeks should listen to the Mayor, yes!

Blagojevich Gets Another Shot at Mass Transit Fare Subsidies

More than $37 million to help pay for free rides on Chicago area mass transit is hanging in political limbo. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich cut the money from the state budget this summer. Yesterday, the state senate passed legislation restoring the funds.

Illinois Public Radio's Sean Crawford has been covering the action in Springfield. He says the bill still needs the Governor's approval.

CRAWFORD: The Governor’s office has indicated that there could be some technical issues with the legislation, and they’re also raising concerns about tax revenues declining in the state. They’re not necessarily agreeing at this point to sign this legislation.
Why play with a mandate that you created in the first place? It would be one thing if you gained something from the gamesmanship, but it's certainly another if you've proved nothing.

A possible indictment for the Governor?

Could the Governor finally go down on charges of fraud and conspiracy? This might place a dent in some of what the governor said this past week as legislators prepared to debate some ethics legislation.
"I've followed every rule that exists and no one has said otherwise," Blagojevich said.
I wonder what he would say when they do find that he hasn't followed every rule that exists.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bullet-Riddled Body Found In Chatham Alley

Police found a man dead in a Chatham neighborhood alley with multiple gunshot wounds Tuesday night.

Officers responding to a report of a person shot found the 18-year-old lying at the mouth of the alley at 8837 S. Prairie Ave. at 8:25 p.m., police said.

The man suffered gunshot wounds to the head, chest, right arm and back, Gresham District police said.

Pierre Young, of 2031 S. Clark St., was dead on the scene, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office. An autopsy is planned for later Wednesday.

Two people may have witnessed the shooting, but a description of the gunman was not immediately available, police said.
I will assume they brought his body to the 8800 block of Prairie. I would like to know why?

Chicago Documentary: Where Is Obama?

This video from the McCain campaign takes a look at what Sen. Barack Obama has done for the Latino community in Illinois.

Oh and for those of you who subscribe to the blog's feed, especially thru e-mail you should see a link or at least in bold letters Media Enclosure(s). Next to that is a link to a file, especially a video file. If you can't see the embed for the video and that forces you to click the link, you will at least see a link to the video.

If you're having any problems I don't mind if you shoot an e-mail in my direction. Posting this video is just my excuse to see if this works for anyone.

Facts about Illinois dropouts

Parents and taxpayers can find dropout rates for school districts and high schools at the Illinois State Board of Education's Web site, http://www.isbe.state.il.us/. Click on "Report Cards" and search by school or district name.
If you follow the AP link you will find some stats as far as dropouts in this state.

Nix tabbed for CTA Board

Well the Governor has made good on his promise to appoint people to the CTA board:
Gov. Rod Blagojevich has named former Deputy Governor Sheila Nix to the Chicago Transit Authority Board.

The 46-year-old Oak Park resident left the Blagojevich administration in June, saying she wanted to spend more time with her family.

Nix served as deputy governor from December 2006 to June 2008.

Before working for the state, Nix served as chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida from 2000 to 2003. From 1992 to 1999, she served in U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey's administration as chief of staff and legislative director.
Here's more from Clout St.:
Nix, who left her $135,000-a-year post with the administration in June, will replace Nicholas Zagotta, who was appointed by Blagojevich in 2004 to complete a term that ended in 2007. The board consists of seven members, with three appointed by the governor, and four by the mayor.

Members serve seven-year terms, draw a $25,000-a-year salary and get health and pension benefits.

Nix's appointment must be approved by the Illinois Senate and the mayor.
If you want to know more about the CTA board go here.

Article links are via The Capitol Fax!

Save money and futures: Get dropouts into school

Sun-Times editorial:
Whether Illinois teenagers graduate public high school or drop out, taxpayers foot the bill.

When teens stay in school, tax dollars pay for their education.

When teens drop out, taxpayers save money today but often pay, and pay heavily, for the rest of that student's life -- for jail, for the welfare check, for the lost income tax revenue.

Consider these two jaw-dropping stats from the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University: A high school dropout will earn $355,000 less over his or her lifetime than a graduate and is 3½ times more likely to be arrested.

So here's the question: Do we pay now or later?

We say pay now.

Today, a state task force will release a report calling for a statewide system for re-enrolling dropouts that would return an additional 25,000 teens each year to comprehensive alternative high school programs by 2013.
My point-of-view is that we should force those who want to be in school to go back. Surely there are those who do drop out who want to be in school. Also for a second there when they cited some stats on what would happen to a high school drop-out it almost reeked of fear-mongering. That's just how it looked to me.

Via The Capitol Fax morning shorts.

Chicago Argus on the "con-con"

Gregory Tejada is indicating his opposition to voting yes on the November proposition on holding a state constitutional convention. He has the belief it's embarrassing when a state has gone thru several constitutions over it's history and his belief that we shouldn't revise of foundational document frequently. Also there always the reason why people support a con-con, because they don't like the current political situation in the state.

I've blogged about it frequently here and I'm sure you saw the link to Rich Miller's syndicated column. What do you guys think about a con-con? Are you for it, against it, or not sure?

Cozying up to Stroger

A Tribune editorial:
This is moving fast! Eighty-six days after the Cook County Board's much-hated sales tax hike took effect, taxpayers now need to wait just 496 more days to fire Board President Todd Stroger and the 10 other Democrats who continue to impose this increase. Tough economic times? Not at Cook County government! There's money galore!

But with voters so angry about the sales tax increase, why would four of the County Board's five suburban Republicans volunteer to join Stroger's funny-money gang? GreggGoslin, Elizabeth Doody Gorman, Tim Schneider and Peter Silvestri: What's this? You didn't learn from the very tax increase you opposed that voters loathe board members who cave to Stroger's demands for ever more public money? You also didn't learn from Wall Street's meltdown that debt can be a terrible millstone?
Since we know about that real-state transfer tax of the city and how that's working out, how about that sales-tax increase from earlier this year? It is too early to know if the revenue from that tax is reaching whatever projections are made at the county? And is it good that they're borrowing money for county operations?

I should also add that the editorial mentions that most of the county board Republicans were on board for this borrowing. This editorial almost sounds like they want these Republicans out of office for their "complicity".

Illinois Senate approves Blagojevich-endorsed package that restricts lawmakers

Less than 24 hours after approving major ethics legislation aimed at Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the Illinois Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a package backed by the governor that would put some of the same restrictions on lawmakers.

Blagojevich and his chief legislative ally, Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago), said the legislation would close loopholes in the just-approved law that bans campaign donations to statewide officeholders from those who have or are seeking state contracts totaling more than $50,000. The Senate measure would extend the campaign-donation ban to lawmakers.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. James DeLeo (D-Chicago), includes a proposed ban on lawmakers holding other government jobs. Another provision would require lawmakers to vote on pay raises based on a yes-or-no vote. Currently lawmakers in both chambers must vote to reject a pay raise or it takes effect automatically.

Blagojevich immediately issued a statement urging the House to take up the legislation before the Nov. 4 election. "Members of the Senate have made it clear that they are ready to change the business-as-usual policies of state government and put the interests of the people first," he said.
I briefly followed the proceedings online in the state Senate. There were some great speeches to be had on the floor of the Senate. Of course some were humorous.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Shopkeepers clean it up

A reader from the 6th Ward neighborhood of West Chesterfield submits this for the blog.
The new mayor of Detroit, Ken Cockrel Jr., was sworn in Friday and he told  citizens there that "It's our time to breathe life back into the city.”

The Associated Press said "He received loud applause from the standing-room-only crowd when he implored residents and business owners to improve the city’s cleanliness by sweeping storefronts and clearing trash from parking lots.

“I call on all Detroiters to do what we were taught to do as children: That is to pick up after ourselves.”

Why can't we demand that shopkeepers do just that in the 6th Ward? Residents take such pride in keeping their homes and lawns up, and then when we hit the commercial streets ... disaster.

This should not be. Let's demand that the commercial areas look as good as the residential neighborhoods.
Anyone notice a trash problem around neighborhood businesses? There are those areas of the ward that might certainly need a clean-up. Especially if you walk along 95th street.

Officials to unveil bus rapid transit plan

One of the ward's local buses, the 79 figures into this plan:
The plan calls for an infrastructural overhaul on portions of four routes: #8 Halsted, #66 Chicago, #79 79th, #14 Jeffery Express and #15 Jeffery Local. Bus rapid transit includes the creation of bus-only lanes, fewer stops and installation of technology that can alter the timing of traffic lights to keep buses moving.

CDOT and CTA officials will present details of the plan and take public comments and questions during two evening public hearings. They are scheduled to be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow at the Gary Comer Youth Center, 7200 Ingleside and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday at the Near North branch of the Chicago Public Library, 310 W. Division.

The city is poised to receive $153 million in federal dollars to implement the bus rapid transit plan, which would start with about 10 miles of bus-only lanes. Mayor Richard M. Daley has said the plan could expand to more than 100 miles if the program proves successful.
I just have to wonder what the streetscape of 79th is going to look like with bus rapid transit. Or I would wonder if the rapid transit will go the length of the entire route.

More DNC & RNC action from Public Affairs

Berkowitz talk a lot about the area Congressional candidates in the first segment. Then we see more from both the Republican and Democratic conventions. We see the rounds of hugging amongst the Democrats. Mayor Daley, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Speaker of the state House Michael Madigan, and Governor Rod Blagojevich caught on camera hugging at the Democratic convention. Then an interview with state Treasurer Alexis Giannoulis and another round with President of the state Senate Emil Jones. There's another round of questioning with former Gov. Jim Edgar at the Republican convention.

Check out the post about this particular episode here!

Schools reform group launches $30M fund

A business-backed group that Chicago school officials say has provided “seed capital” to spark reform here is about to launch a drive to raise up to $30 million more for local schools, its biggest such effort to date.

At a reception Tuesday evening, the Chicago Public Education Fund, headed by business leaders including private-equity magnate Bruce V. Rauner and Hyatt Hotel scion Penny S. Pritzker, is to outline plans to continue its focus on attracting better teachers and principals to Chicago.

But the group also is shifting to a wider and potentially more controversial model, aimed at reconstituting some failing schools and remaking the way educators get paid.

“To my knowledge, we’re the only local (schools) group that offers to go out of business every four years,” said fund founding President and CEO Janet Knupp, noting that each of its fundraising cycles last four years. “It’s not just about giving money away. It’s about investing in (continuing) improvements, and we have to prove we’re achieving that.”
Instead of organizing protests up in Wrigleyville perhaps what Rev. Meeks (and also a State Senator) should do is get with a group like this to improve schools in his part of the city. It's a start and a smart move, yes?

Think about it at least.

CloutWiki on Ald. Lyle

Well I like the part where the ward is said not to be reliant city and the fact that the ward is considered a black middle-class ward.

The CTA Bill of Rights

Perhaps the CTA might want to read this laundry list from The Beachwood Report.

Could we get this?

There is a Secretary of State facility on 99th and King Drive, but I wonder if we could get what Uptown got. Could the Secretary of State have a day where we can get our drivers' services at a local bank? Perhaps there's no need if we don't have to go very far for that.

The con-con push is on

Rich Miller's syndicated column this morning as well as other items involving a possible Constitutional Convention in Illinois. It's been stated here several times that we will be voting for a con-con this year as we elect a new President of the United States. Just a reminder.

McCain's campaign ad too technical?

The recent TV ad by the McCain campaign is analyzed by Chicago Argus. His analysis doesn't bode too well for this ad. Watch the ad here!

Chicago Business Yesterday

This was Monday's installment but I didn't get to it until today. Main thing to watch is WaMu is up for sale and how the Wall Street crisis affects Chicago.

Stress not all bad

Stella Foster's column in exactly the first portion:
DR. MEHMET OZ, OPRAH's favorite doctor and a regular on her show, has landed on the cover of Success magazine. And I just loved this quote from him on how NOT all stress is bad: "We are designed to withstand stress; it's a natural part of life. When you have no stress, you're almost certainly dead already." Ha! This was right on time, especially since Forbes magazine just called us the most stressed city in America.
That's not to say we can work on what stressed us out, eh?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Black successor for Jones not guaranteed

Do blacks in the State Senate really believe that they "own" the position of state Senate President? That appears to be the thesis of this Russ Stewart column. As has been covered on this blog the current Senate President Emil Jones will step down next year. So now there's a lot of intrigue as to who will replace him.

I've heard a lot about the political calculus that goes on here in Chicago or Cook County. In Chicago, a member of the Polish community was expected to take the City Clerk spot, a black should take the City Treasurer spot, and the mayoralty. Well you know where I'm going with that although let's be honest here no one race or ethnicity should "own" a political office.

The State Senate is a whole different story. State government is largely seen in the press and other political observers as dysfunctional. They might also have pointed fingers at the leadership of this state. Namely Rod Blagojevich, Michael Madigan, & Emil Jones. And they all have one main similarity, they are all Chicago Democrats.

According to this column Sen. Rickey Hendon has said that Jones must be succeeded by another black Chicago Senator. Another black Senate Democrat James Clayborne, who's from East St. Louis was seen by Hendon as too concilliatory. In light of what's going on it's a good thing that Clayborne is both black and a downstater.

I think Hendon has been in the game long enough to know better. Is it politically a good idea to place another Chicago Democrat as the Presiding officer in the state senate? It could be argued that if the General Assembly isn't basking in the glow of popularity what could change that is to place a downstater as the presiding officer of the state Senate.

Why place a political calculus that might be seen as working in Cook County to the rest of the state where it's more likely that geography will trump race every time?

The downstate personality clash continues

The Sun-Times quotes Speaker Madigan on Blagojevich's apparent refusal to return some money from a former chairman of the state finance authority:
"I would think what motivates him not to give the money back is that he probably needs the money to pay his criminal defense costs. That's what drives him," Madigan said. "His method for quite a while has been to attempt to tie me into anything he can think of. And most of it is up in the outer reaches of his mind. I don't think he's going to change. What are you going to do?"
Whatever happened to that hug that he and the Governor had at the Democratic convention last month? Has the good will subsided so quickly?

Tracking clout

Clout City:
Independent political consultant Mike Fourcher and attorney Jay Paul Deratany actually think the relationships and decisions of local politicians should be open and clear for the public to see.

“We’d like to bring some light to the back room deals,” says Deratany, who last winter lost an insurgent bid for the Cook County Board of Review. “So many times people don't have the information they need—they just have the spin put on by a politician or advocacy group.”

Sounds like the pleasant dreams of reformer types—except that these guys are serious enough about it to have logged hundreds of hours producing cloutwiki.org, a new reference site that offers political bios and connecting links for dozens of local politicians.
I think I'll check out the website myself if you click the hyperlink for CloutWiki.org. I might write about it later.

Cook makes Will the land of milk, honey

Kristen McQuery makes a comparison between Cook County and our neighbor to the south, Will County:
John Gerl, chairman of Will County's finance committee and a CPA, explained that despite being the third-largest county in Illinois and the fastest growing, Will County has not borrowed money to pay for operating expenses.

The county is carrying about $100 million in general obligation bond debt, mostly from a new jail.

Will County's pension budget is 99 percent funded, unlike Cook County, which will use some of the $3.75 billion in borrowed money to pay pension costs.

Gerl earns about $22,000 as a county board member. Cook County commissioners earn more than $80,000.

Sure, Will County is smaller, but it has a jail, a nursing home, a court system and a health department. It doesn't have many of Cook County's problems, but it also doesn't have Cook County's 5 million residents paying property taxes and sky-high sales taxes to fund it.

Will County has not issued a tax anticipation warrant in 15 years, unlike Cook County, which approved a $150 million note this summer in anticipation of the sales tax revenue.

"Once you create that monster, which they've done in Cook County, it takes a collaborative effort by the board and the president to set their mind to reducing the size of government. They let it get away from them. That's something we have not done," Gerl said.
Contrast that earlier in the column where McQuery was having trouble getting in touch with the county finance director and the county comptroller. She called the folks at Will County and she was able to get more information from them.

Read the whole column!

Could the Cubs Bring School Funding Reform?

This is old news, but I wonder what this is going to prove. Wrigleyville has a party atmosphere and they may not want to be amongst drunken Cubs fans who are happy that the Cubs are in the playoffs this year!!!

Illinois State Senator James Meeks wants to turn Chicago baseball fever into school funding reform.

Senator Meeks says the education issue needs the biggest possible audience.

MEEKS: The Cubs playoff game, I plan to have about 6,000 kids wrap themselves around Wrigley Field and bring more attention to the disparity in school funding.
This news came out last week. Check out this post at The Capitol Fax on Friday.

McCain's new TV ad

Via The Capitol Fax!

New poll: Blagojevich job rating falls

Quad City Times:
A new poll conducted for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Quad-City Times and Lee Enterprises’ Illinois newspapers finds Blagojevich facing a dismal 34 percent “favorable” rating among likely Illinois voters, halfway through his contentious second term.

That’s a significant drop from the 42 percent rating he received in a similar poll in January. Almost two out of three poll respondents now rate him “unfavorable.”

At the same time, the Democrat-controlled state Legislature has seen a slight improvement in its own still-low favorable rating. The body’s 37 percent rating from January now stands at 41 — this after a year of open rebellion against fellow Democrat Blagojevich on budgetary, ethics and constitutional issues.

“He’s losing that war,” pollster Del Ali said.

The poll was conducted from Sept. 15 to 18 by Research 2000, a Maryland-based polling firm. A total of 800 likely Illinois voters who vote regularly in state elections were interviewed statewide by telephone.

The numbers are generally consistent with other polls in the past two years which show an Illinois public restless with Blagojevich for what critics say are numerous reasons. Among them: a federal corruption probe that has already convicted his top political fundraiser, Antoin “Tony” Rezko, fractious budget battles that have nearly shut down state government and a reputation for political gimmickry and grandstanding while serious state problems go unresolved.

The poll shows that even among Democratic respondents, almost half rank Blagojevich’s job performance as “fair” or “poor.” That may reflect the highly publicized party in-fighting swirling around him in Springfield, where Democratic lawmakers openly mock him from the House and Senate floors and in some cases have called for his impeachment.
Is there anyone who reads this blog who cares to contest this poll?

Ill. lawmakers consider ethics bill

Governor Rod Blagojevich has called both the Senate and the House back.

Senate President Emil Jones agreed to pursue the ethics legislation now rather than waiting until the next scheduled legislative session in November.

The ethics bill would restrict campaign donations from people who do business with the state.

Gov pushes ethics, keeps tainted funds

Besides the multiple federal investigations he's facing, Gov. Blagojevich has 65,000 other reasons he might have trouble persuading state lawmakers this week to "follow my lead" on ethics reform.

The governor has kept $65,000 in campaign contributions from one of his administration's former top employees, Ali D. Ata, even though Ata pleaded guilty to felony charges earlier this year.

After cutting a deal with federal prosecutors in April, Ata testified against former top Blagojevich adviser and fund-raiser Tony Rezko, who was convicted in June of wide-ranging corruption involving state deals.

After a Sun-Times reporter asked about the Ata contributions, Blagojevich campaign spokesman Doug Scofield said Sunday he was not aware of Ata's money being dumped.

Blagojevich's keeping the Ata money has given ammunition to his critics, even as the governor is calling legislators back to Springfield today to consider his ethics proposal. "This is a hypocritical move by him, especially at a time when he refuses to give back the ill-gotten gains of a felon," said state Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock), one of Blagojevich's harshest critics.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Experience with Tech 37 at Robeson High School

This is a program that no longer operates anymore, but IBC34 offers his thoughts on the last year of this program funded by After School Matters. He said that his worst experience in this program was at Robeson:
The one thing that sealed the end of the program was the last assignment at Robeson High.

The profanity was horrible and it was coming from the staff directed towards the students.
These actions were reported but never acted on.

I came to the conclusion that the faculty was responsible for the negative attitude that existed in that particular school.

It was embarrassing to listen the staff blurt out profanity at the students and the students had become preconditioned to accept it as normal behavior.

When reassigned to Robeson for another program, I decided to move on and that was the end of After School Matters Tech Tours

Working with After School Matters Showed me that Its the adults as much as it is the Youth that need instruction in how to behave in public.

Bad teachers, and staff only serve to break our children down to their level.

I suggest that all parents take time to visit their child's school and observe the staff interaction with the students.

It could be an eye opening experience.
I emailed IBC34 for a time frame he says this was back in 2005. This isn't much different that what I experienced in high school although this was a few years before that. I've surmised that some of these students know nothing else. This is probably how their parents have always talked to them.

That's not to excuse the teachers, they shouldn't talk to these students like that anyway. Parents shouldn't either but what can we do about that. IBC34 might be right though in a way you get back what you dish out.

The Bench: Obama campaign HQ disappointment

If you believe The Bench this is definitely bad news. A phone bank that consists of volunteer's cell phones, stuck in a hot basement with little or no air conditioning, or donut holes and bottled water for subsistence. And they played with the address The Bench visits 566 W. Lake Street instead of 233 N. Michigan Avenue. This post sounds very disheartening.

Dr. Blago's botched surgery

Tribune editorial:
Last spring, the Illinois legislature tried to narrow the gap. Lawmakers unanimously passed a law that would have guaranteed hundreds of thousands of uninsured Illinois consumers the most generous hospital discounts in the U.S. The law also would have capped what these patients spend annually on hospital care.

But if you're uninsured and counting on that big discount for your next hospital stay, here's a word of advice: Don't.

Instead of signing the bill, Gov. Rod Blagojevich decided to "improve" it with an amendatory veto. Note the word improve is in quote marks. That's because the governor's changes are like performing heart surgery with a chain saw. Not a good idea.

His changes may scuttle efforts to pass anybill.
Well there goes his platform since he was returned to office last year. He wants to fix the health care system but may have harmed a bill that probably would have helped the health care system.

Pilgrim Baptist unveils rebuilding plans

This church has been seen in the news a lot. Especially with a grant they were supposed to get from the state, that instead went to a school that was housed in the church. Also a lawsuit was filed to prevent state money from being given to a church.

It's great to see that the home to gospel music is finally going to be rebuilt:

Storied Pilgrim Baptist Church will be rebuilt as part of a new $41 million campus in Bronzeville that will include a cultural center and social services building, church leaders said Saturday.

The sanctuary of the church at 3301 S. Indiana, an architectural gem designed in 1890 by Louis Sullivan, will be replicated as close to the original building as possible.

While the vaulted wood ceiling will be replaced with steel in the new building, the acoustics -- a major feature of the church, the birthplace of gospel music -- will be the same, church leaders said.

A fund-raising campaign will kick off in January, the third anniversary of the 2006 fire that gutted the landmark.

I hope they learned not to depend on the government to offer any more for their landmark church home!

Illinois Constitutional Convention

Crazy Politico talks about the pros & cons of having a state constitutional convention.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ten commandments for good neighbors

From this months ward newsletter...

I. Call 911 when you see a crime being committed in your area. (Call 311 for non-emergencies).
II. Attend Beat and Block Club Meetings.
III. Be alert and report any suspicious activity.
IV. Participate in neighborhood activities.
V. Share information.
VI. Start a block or neighborhood newsletter.
VII. Create a phone tree (list of your neighbor’s names, phone numbers, and emergency contacts.)
VIII. Maintain contact with your Community PolicingOffice.
IX. Keep windows secured and all door locked.
X. Obey curfew laws; when parents and kids obey curfew families and communities are safer.
(Youth under 17 years of age, 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday & Saturday).
If not a neighborhood newsletter, perhaps a neighborhood blog. And same for the block.

How Chicago's property tax increase smacks you


Property tax bills are about to hit Chicago mailboxes -- and it's gonna hurt.

Poor, heavily minority neighborhoods trying to make a rebound will get the worst of it. Homeowners in Fuller Park, West Garfield Park and Englewood -- where property assessments started to rebound before the housing market tanked -- will see their taxes soar as much as 71 percent.

People living in gentrifying hot-spots -- New City, North Lawndale, Humboldt Park and the Lower West Side -- will see their property-tax bills rise from 24 percent to 33 percent over last year.

Not quite as bad: Tax bills for homeowners in Belmont Cragin, Jefferson Park, Dunning, Bridgeport, East Garfield Park, Brighton Park, Portage Park, Montclare and Woodlawn are up between 18 percent and 20 percent.

Here's PDF file from the Sun-Times as well. Median taxes in Chatham will go up about 1.4%, Greater Grand Crossing goes up 6.5% and Roseland goes up .9%. This is between what the median taxes were in 2006 and 2007.

I do wonder why poor neighborhoods have higher property tax rates than more affluent areas?

Here's more:
Citywide, the median property-tax increase will be about 8 percent, according to Cook County assessor's office projections.
Cook County Assessor James Houlihan blames state lawmakers for adding to the pain by not acting to keep in place a 7 percent cap on yearly increases in assessed property values. The cap had been imposed in 2004 in the face of complaints that followed soaring assessments in Chicago.

A new version, passed last year with support from House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), phases out the 7 percent cap over three years, offering new deductions to homeowners who have lived in their homes at least 10 years and have household income under $75,000.
Via Uptown Update!

State officials roll out Web site with financial tips

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional is offering tips called "Financial Literacy 101" online.

The Web address is http://www.idfpr.com.

The site has basic guidance on saving and credit reports and also offers advice on buying a home and retirement.

Digging for dirt

Clout City talks about the City Clerk website posting city council business going back to about 1980.

New budgeting process for the CTA based on performance management

The CTA Tattler discusses a new budget process and reminds you about "Ask Ron" next Saturday.

Friday, September 19, 2008

You can now follow the Sixth Ward

Of course this assumes that you have a Google Account. 0 people are following this blog as of yet but if you'd like the option is available. Just go to the widget just under the FeedJit Live Feed. Let's see how many fans this blog has. Thank you!

Governor: Obama will regret supporting ethics bills

Story from WBBM-TV. Could this be a threat?

Local WaMu branches at mercy of buyer’s Chicago hopes

If Washington Mutual Inc. finds a buyer, the fate of its 117 Chicago-area branches would depend on which bank does the deal.

Mounting losses on subprime mortgages have forced the Seattle-based bank to seek a buyer five years after it entered Chicago with a flurry of branch openings across the city and suburbs. Possible suitors include New York-based J. P. Morgan Chase & Co. and San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co., according to people familiar with the matter. Others reportedly interested include Citigroup Inc. and some foreign banks.

J. P. Morgan, already the biggest bank in Chicago with 340 branches, would be expected to close most of WaMu’s locations here and move the deposits into its existing network, banking industry sources say.

On the other hand, Wells Fargo, the nation’s fourth-largest bank, would likely keep most of WaMu’s branches and use them as a launching pad into Chicago’s retail market. Wells Fargo has a commercial lending presence and a wealth management unit in Chicago but has been interested in a retail beachhead here for years.
It seemed one while there was a branch on every corner. Only exaggerating on that, but it safe to say that their aggressive expansion may not have helped them. Although perhaps there's a profit in selling these branches.