Tuesday, March 31, 2009

600K to get food stamps via stimulus

Clout St:
About 600,000 needy Illinoisans will get an increase in food stamps thanks to the federal economic stimulus, the state announced today.

Gov. Pat Quinn said the federal aid will help at this time of recession because "Illinois families are struggling to put food on the table."

The state is getting $890 million to increase food stamp benefits, the administration said. Illinois also expects an additional $11.5 million for food banks. Illinois Illinois already has ordered 3.5 million pounds of food for food banks, the administration said.

Daley discusses Quinn tax hike proposal

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said if income taxes go up under Governor Pat Quinn's proposal, property taxes should go down.

Quinn wants to raise the tax to four-and-a-half percent, but the mayor says if it's going to happen, property owners need some tax relief.

For years, the mayor has advocated what some call a tax swap, wherein the income tax would be raised only if property taxes were lowered a corresponding amount. The mayor said his position on increasing the state income tax has been a long-standing one.

The mayor and other tax swap proponents point out how property taxes have soared in recent years. Daley said he would want an expanded circuit breaker law and cap on property tax increases before he would ever support an increase in the income tax.
You can read more stories about Gov. Quinn's budget plan over at the Capitol Fax!

How we can reach our youth -- FREE event at UIC

Please pre-register for the event described before April 2nd, as a room assignment will be made based on pre-registrations. e-mail JulieHenschel at jhenschel(at)isac.org

You may recall a few days ago a previous post about the Reload Urban Youth Workers conference at North Park University on Saturday, April 4. In it, I had some editorial on the (percevied, by me) the lack of connected effort by community churches to reach out to the youth. Every day, I see some youth in the neighborhood who look like they could be up to no good.

However, we do have resources, whether churches or after shcool clubs, that can help these kids. And we need youth to reach out to youth.

They (the youth) do it all the time, anyway...and they create this thing called "buzz" which promotes different ideas, movements, media, etc. Could be negative, but it the buzz can also be positive.

The author of the book "Anatomy of Buzz" is in town, and providing a special FREE event at UIC this upcoming Monday at UIC. A specific room will be assigned once pre-registration is complete Thursday morning, April 2.

Join ISAC for Free Lecture with Author of The Anatomy of Buzz

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) is pleased to invite our friends and partners in education, social policy, and community economic development to a free lecture with Emanuel Rosen, author of the national best-seller The Anatomy of Buzz. The event, co-hosted with the College ofUrban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Illinois College Access Network, will be held on April 6th from 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

To register for the event, and for location information on campus, please e-mail JulieHenschel(jhenschel(at)isac.org) before April 2nd.

Many of you will recognize The Anatomy of Buzz from ISAC presentations and our professional development series. In our nationally recognized "Guide to Outreach" a number of successful outreach strategies utilizing the principles from Rosen's book are highlighted.

This event is a must attend for anyone involved in college access marketing, community outreach, policy implementation, or any endeavor in which traditional forms of marketing and promotion are impractical or financially out-of-reach.

If you have ever wondered how to get better turnout at your public events, how to reach your target audience, how to launch a new program, how to differentiate your programs and services, or simply how to make more effective use of a limited marketing budget, you are sure to leave this session with more than a few very practical ideas. Emanuel Rosen is the author of the national best-seller The Anatomy of Buzz (Doubleday, 2000) and The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited (Doubleday,2009).

Prior to writing these books, he was VP of Marketing at Niles Software where he was responsible for launching and marketing the company's flagship product EndNote, which spread to a large extent by word of mouth. It was during this time that Rosen became interested in buzz and especially in how it can be accelerated. He started his career as a copywriter in Israel. For his work in advertising he won the Bronze Lionfrom the Cannes International Advertising Festival, as well as several national awards including two gold medals. He holds an MBA from of San Francisco and lives in Menlo Park, California. The Anatomy of Buzz "has managed to generate quite a bit of buzz itself," as BusinessWeek Online noted. The book hit The Wall Street Journal's business best-seller list and is now available in twelve languages.

How much do you know about "word-of-mouth" marketing? Take the Buzz Quiz and find out.

More information about the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs

More information about the Illinois College Access Network

Monday, March 30, 2009

Louis Farrakhan speaks in the neighborhood

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan spoke at Greater Institutional AME Church this past Sunday.

The story is on the Tribune's Chicago Breaking News blog.

They have a photo, and the brief story:

Rev. Louis Farrakhan of The Nation of Islam attended services today at the Greater Institutional Methodist Episcopal Church in Chicago prior to his speech on stopping neighborhood violence.

Farrakhan spoke today about the violence that has taken the lives of several youths in Chicago and surrounding suburbs. He said if young people would see each other as brothers and sisters, they would not feel the need to use a gun against each other.

The minister also called on all communities to work together to end the spike in

Was anyone there? Please comment....

National Block Club University

You know I wanted to post about this for a while. Well not necessarily this, but in fact a video like this made by the founder of this organization:

Syron Smith was running against Andre Thapedi last year in the 32nd District for the seat to be given up by Milt Patterson who retired, but not before voting no on impeaching the recently ousted Rod Blagojevich. In any event Smith was knocked off the ballot and in that video said he was running as a write-in candidate, but the seat was won in November by Thapedi (his General Assembly profile). The 32nd District represents the 6th in the portion that encompasses the northern most portion of this ward.

Anyway Smith's organization mentioned in this post's title, National Block Club University, has this basic history:
NBCU was officially incorporated in summer of 2003 as a not for profit organization designed to teach and develop residents to combat crime and disorder. Founder Syron M. Smith of Chicago, Illinois created NBCU to coincide with the for profit organization Block Club Union; which focused on creating small resident owned convenience stores. The small stores would help stop the exploitation of low income residents from business owners that can careless about the welfare and development of the population they serve. Block Club Union Incorporated fit directly into NBCU's structure because it helped to provide donation dollars from simply buying store products from stores that are committed to "giving back" to the local neighborhood. Block Club Union Incorporated was founded by Syron M. Smith in 2001. Prior to 2001, Syron had created the not for profit called Chicago Block Club Union, this organization was first started in the fall of 1998 and in 2000 the name was changed to Block Club Union Charities. BCUC was granted 501 c 3 status (advance ruling) by the Internal Revenue Service to fulfill it's mission of taking youth on travel trips to help broaden their view and perspectives.
Here's more:
National Block Club University is a daily process structured to create, nurture, and sustain strong safe neighborhoods.

NBCU tracks, monitors, and counters acts of violence throughout 167 of America's most dangerous neighborhoods.
And here is a basic overview
NBCU has 3 guiding principals that we have developed into patterns of thinking or concepts. Our existence is based on people, incidents, and behavior. To ensure success in our mission, we assess every person based on the "3 P's". The 3 P's are: passion, position, and play.
You can go here to look up recent events in their archive. I think they could use a blog for this purpose.

And as a bonus vid Smith interviews 34th district state Rep. Constance Howard.

The middle class, tax hikes and the GOP

Round up over at the Capitol Fax. I'm pulling this quote:
One problem is that the idea of what a middle class family is has so radically changed over the years. People struggled to keep up with the Joneses while their wages stagnated. That led to a credit overextension, which led to some of the current housing-related woes.
I will refer you to this previous post from the weekend.

Transit advocates: state funding not enough

Chi-Town Daily News:
As Illinois legislators consider Gov. Pat Quinn's annual budget proposal, transit advocates say the state is falling far short of what's needed to adequately maintain Chicago's existing bus and rail systems.

In his budget, submitted earlier this month, the governor acknowledges that "mass transit systems are in dire need of new investment," and he sets aside $1.5 billion for state transit agencies over five years. Under Quinn's proposal, the new money would come from increases in motor-vehicle license fees.

But transit advocates warn that the new funding would not cover the $1 billion annual cost of maintenance and repairs for existing mass transit in Chicago. They say the federal stimulus package, which endowed Chicago transit authorities with more than $414 million this year, is not a replacement for a much-needed capital spending bill from the state.

"The state hasn’t provided a dime of transit capital funding for five years," says Brian Imus, director of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group. "It’s not a surprise to discover commuters struggling with broken down buses and slow train service."

Imus echoed similar calls for more funding from transit officials across the Chicago area. Executives from the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra commuter rail and Pace suburban-bus system have asked legislators for a new spending bill, and the Regional Transportation Authority, which funds those agencies, is also lobbying the state for long-term capital funding.
Update 10:02 AM: Check out this John Hilkevitch column with ideas for 1 billion rides on the CTA!

Honors Students Also Struggle at Robeson High School

Most of the incoming freshman at Robeson High School in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood read below grade level. So resources are directed toward those struggling students, and less attention is given to the motivated ones like freshman Sarah Vance. These honors students get high grades but the curriculum doesn’t adequately prepare them for college. Some do make it but others either get discouraged or are doomed for failure.
Read the whole thing!

Some Popeye's have re-opened...

Update on the Popeye's closings that were reported on this blog.

The one on 111 W. 75th was actually open as of Saturday morning (probably even before then). The one at 346 E. 95th was still closed.

I didn't get a chance to go to the 75th location to find out details...just saw customers coming in & out.

Anyone with any details or experiences at these stores?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Yolan Henry speaks out

Video from CBS2Chicago and related to the fundraiser for Cook County Sheriff candidate Derrick Baker that I had blogged about yesterday.

Are you hosting a block party?

I found these street clousures thru EveryBlock Chicago du to block parties:
333-341 E 78TH ST Block party on March 29
Posted to the City of Chicago Web site on March 29, 2009.

342-399 E 78TH ST Block party on March 29
Posted to the City of Chicago Web site on March 29, 2009.

400-400 E 78TH ST Block party on March 29
Posted to the City of Chicago Web site on March 29, 2009.
 The weather I'm sure is kinda crazy right now. I thought block parties were only held during the warmer weather months.

BTW, if you're hosting a block party in the near future please let the blog know. Drop a comment here or send a quick & brief e-mail.

Saving Chicago's Middle Class

I blog Progress Illinois' post here since the 6th is considered a largely middle class area so this should get some play on the blog:
It's no secret that income inequality has widened dramatically in the last 30 years. Between 1979 and 2005, the top five percent of American families saw their real incomes increase 81 percent while the lowest-income fifth saw their real incomes decline by one percent

The gap is often most stark in urban areas. Chicagoland's middle class population -- defined as those who earn between 80 percent and 150 percent of their metro area’s median income -- declined by 14 percent between 1970 and 2005. The top 10 percent of employees now earn 6.3 times more than the bottom 10 percent of the city’s workforce.

The take-away: Chicago's once-vibrant middle class is slowly vanishing.
Go there with some ideas Progess Illinois offers. My only opposition to some of their ideas is to a city minimum wage. I don't believe that it's a government role to tell a business how much they should pay their workers. At least to set a price ceiling on labor although if one wanted to do that then perhaps instead of setting a minimum price perhaps minimum conditions.

Block Club Sign = 7900 Block of Calumet

Location: 7900 S Calumet Ave, Chicago, IL 60619, USA
A photo of a block club sign not taken by Levois!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Grandmother of Eddy Curry's son speaks at campaign event

This story is relevant for two reasons. Apparently a 6th Ward connection to the story of Eddy Curry's ex-girlfriend was found murdered in her apartment earlier this year. And the grandmother who refused at first to give up her grandson, Curry's son, is present at a political fundraiser:
The maternal grandmother spoke at a campaign kick-off event for Cook County Sheriff candidate Sylvester Baker, who is calling for creation of a domestic violence unit in the sheriff’s office, to be charged with enforcing orders of protection.

Henry’s daughter, Nova, who was killed along with her granddaughter, Ava, in January — allegedly by an abusive ex-boyfriend, Fredrick Goings — had let an order of protection against the man lapse.

“My daughter had filed an order of protection, but because of her fear, she never followed up on it...so [Goings] was allowed to carry a gun,” the mother said. “When you file a restraining order, there’s so much red tape, so many hoops you have to jump through, they often don’t follow it.”

Henry, wearing a sleeveless black dress and pearls, said she has filed an appeal of a judge’s order giving custody to Curry, father of Noah, as well as Ava. Henry said she will plead grandmother’s visitation rights, and will argue her daughter’s abusive attorney boyfriend coerced her to sign the agreement giving Curry full custody.

Referring to grandparents’ visitation rights, Henry said, “That’s all I’m entitled to (even though) I have raised my grandson since birth.”

Neither she nor Baker had any criticism for Sheriff Tom Dart’s handling of her case. Baker instead focused on his proposal, charging that under the current system, orders of protection too often fall through the cracks.

Joining the two at the South Side Captain Hard Times restaurant were Ronald and Annette Holt, whose son Blair was shot to death on a CTA bus two years ago; and Willa Pitts, whose sons Kendrick and Carnell were killed this month.

Three years ago, Baker took about a quarter of the vote against Dart in the Democratic primary for sheriff.
I found this article thru EveryBlock that indicated an address where the actual article seemed to have deleted the address of Capt. Hard Times at 438 E. 79th Street.

Urban League's nextOne program developing minority business dreams

Former Chatham Food owners Leonard & Donna Harris went through this program, as described in the Chicago Sun-Times:

Ti Ron Gibbs has watched his company's profits and revenues more than triple in the last year. Lee Reid has been able to keep his real estate business on track in the midst of recession, and a trio of entrepreneurs, whose businesses had been on different paths a year ago, are teaming up on a new green technology business venture.

They credit a Chicago Urban League program, designed to help accelerate black business growth and economic development in African-American communities, with helping them find new market opportunities and expand.
Eighteen months ago, the League launched its nextOne program to assist a select group of established Chicago companies in partnership with Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management. The intensive six-month program provided industry specific one-on-one business coaching to entrepreneurs.

It targeted businesses with sales from $100,000 to $5 million. Among them was Gibbs' TEFL Institute, which trains college students and others to teach English as a foreign language around the world.

"Customer satisfaction is at an all-time high," said Gibbs. "We're able to measure it. We evaluate the course, the instructors. We get feedback from all our students now. Before we didn't do that."

2 Killed, 4 Injured in Dan Ryan Crashes

Two separate accidents near 73rd and 75th streets on the expressway as reported by FOX Chicago.

Reload: Chicago Urban Youth Workers Conference

Reload is a one day conference. There are 80 churches within 1 mile of 79th & King, but our neighborhood's residents go to 200 (or more) churches! Many of them will be at Reload. (Churches include: Salem Baptist, Apostolic Church of God, Fellowship Missionary Baptist, Canaan Missionary Baptist, Lawndale Community Church, Christ Bible Church (formerly known as South Shore Baptist), Armitage Baptist, New Life Covenant, Oakdale Covenant, La Viitta Commnity, New Life Community, Evangel Assembly)

However, it seems like NONE of the churches in the 6th ward have come.

If you read this on Saturday, when you go to church on Sunday GRAB YOUR YOUTH MINISTER.

If you miss them on Sunday, CALL THEM ON MONDAY.


Reload - Chicago
The largest urban youth workers conference in Chicago
One of the largest in the 20 city Reload Tour

$20 Pre-Registration
$25 At the Door

Click here to see the full brochure

RELOAD Chicago
April 4, 2009
North Park University
3225 West Foster Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
map it


Featured Speaker

Princess Kasune Zulu,
World Vision, Chicago, IL

Click here to read more about Princess Zulu

Worship Team


  • 2020 Vision For Schools: Transforming Public Education Within a Single Generation of Students taught by Chris Butler, Vision Nehemiah
  • Discipleship: An Effective Method of Mentoring Urban Youth taught by Nick Rivera, New Life Covenant Church Oakwood
  • Rev Up Your Bible Teaching: How to Counter a Culture that Would Rather Watch TV than Listen to You taught by Phil Jackson, The House Covenant Church
  • Girls & Boys: Adjusting Your Ministry to Be More Gender-Sensitive in an Urban Environment taught by Ginny Olson, North Park University
  • Jump Starting Your Youth Ministry: Planning for Success taught by David Marrero, New Life Covenant Church
  • Core Values of a Youth Worker: Laying a Foundation for Ministry taught by Justine Conley, J. Conley Consulting
  • Teen Leadership Track (for high school students only) Dealing With Life: Let's Get Real taught by Masters Commission

    click here to view above workshop descriptions

Additional Workshops

  • Multi-Generation Communication: Crossing the Cultural Divide taught by Joon Hwang, New Life Chicago & Ramiro Medrano
  • Real Talk About Accountability and Learning Communities taught by Brian Dye, Vision Nehemiah
  • A Church With No Walls: Reaching Youth That Are Turned Off by the Church taught by Amy Williams, The Carpenter's House
  • Social Justice: Theology of Suffering taught by Soong-Chan Rah, North Park Theological Seminary
  • Hip-Hop Curriculum taught by Roberto Rivera, The Good Life Organization
  • Church & Ministry Managment taught by Trevor James, North Park University
    The ABCs of Counseling taught by Daisy Santiago Altiery, North Park University
  • Building Bridges with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community taught by Andrew Marin, The Marin Foundation
  • Entrenuity: Teaching Youth How to Develop For Profit Entrepreneurships taught by Brian Jenkins, Entrenuity
  • Real Steps to Dealing with the Gang Issues in Your Community taught by Robert Rand, New Life Covenant Church
  • Prison Ministry taught by Joe Jones, North Park University
  • Volunteers: Pain or Pathway to God's Vision? taught by Brad Harry, Here's Life Inner City / Agape Center

  • 8:30am Registration, Breakfast & Networking
  • 9:15-10:30am General Session 1 - Welcome, Worship & Speaker Challenge
  • 10:45am-12:00pm Morning Electives
  • 12:00-12:50pm Lunch
  • 1:00 - 2:15pm Afternoon Electives
  • 2:30-3:30pm General Session 2 - Giveaways, Worship, Speaker Challenge
  • 3:30pm RELOAD Ends
Attention RELOAD Alumni: Bring 3 new people and you come for free!click here to sign up for your code<http://uywi.org/284022.ihtml>click here to register for RELOAD<http://uywi.org/334304.ihtml%3E________________________________

Local Sponsors
  • North Park University's Center for Youth Ministry Studies
  • Vision Nehemiah
  • Chicago Urban Youth Network

Friday, March 27, 2009

Illinois Student Assistance Corps now hiring soon-to-be college grads

Disclaimer -- the author of this entry, JP Paulus, works for the Illinois Student Assistance Corporation.

Also, PLEASE read the notes at the bottom of this entry -- they are very important for those applying!
Illinois Student Assistance Commission
Making College Affordable for Illinois Students Since 1957
Friday, March 06, 2009
Media Affairs Contacts:
Paul Palian , 312-814-3679 (Direct), 312-590-7790 (Cell), ppalian@isac.org
Emergency , 312-814-3689 or 312-590-9432

Recent Grad? Graduating Soon? ISAC Has a Job for You!

Agency seeks “a few good grads” to serve students and families throughout the state

Deerfield, Ill.—The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) announces it is hiring 78 positions in conjunction with All-Access Illinois, a college access initiative seeking to unify ISAC’s many valuable outreach services, products, and initiatives into one comprehensive campaign designed to engage students from lower-income families in planning for future post-secondary education.

Funded by the College Access Challenge Grant Program, the initiative builds upon successful outreach strategies including College Access Vertical Teams, Illinois Mentor and KnowHow2GoIllinois with the creation of a 78-member Illinois Student Assistance Corps. The Corps will tremendously bolster ISAC's ability to expand its services and to provide high quality personal service to students in every single community in the state.

The purpose of the College Access Challenge Grant Program (CACGP) is to foster partnerships among federal, state, and local governments and philanthropic organizations through matching challenge grants that are aimed at increasing the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

The Illinois Student Assistance Corps will be made up of recent college graduates recruited from the undergraduate class of 2009 and will be deployed across the state, with two Corps members assigned to each of the 39 community college districts in Illinois.

Corps members will build partnerships with local schools, businesses, and nonprofits in order to deliver free career and college planning and preparation services to students from families with no prior college-going experience. Assistance with career exploration, college selection, test preparation, scholarship searches, application completion and the financial aid process are examples of the services that the corps will provide.

"It’s a case of paying it forward. Many of the prospective Corps members we have met talk passionately about how they needed help navigating through the process as they prepared to go to college,” said ISAC Executive Director Andrew Davis. “Now, they want to help the next generation of college students."

The hiring process has already begun, with applications due on Wednesday, April 15. Interviews will begin approximately three weeks later. The program provides Corps members with a two-year employment contract, beginning in June, 2009, that includes health insurance and ongoing training, plus provides networking opportunities and the opportunity to transform the lives of families throughout the state.

For more information or to apply, contact JP Paulus at 800-899-ISAC (4722), extension 3845, or send a resume and cover letter to corps@isac.org.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission provides students of all ages and backgrounds with the resources and support to obtain financial aid for higher education. A state agency, ISAC has paved the path to post-secondary education with innovative programs for more than 50 years. Last year alone, ISAC continued its mission to make college affordable for Illinois students by issuing 185,000 grants and scholarships totaling more than $448 million.

The Commission coordinates educational funding with student loans, as a loan guarantor and via numerous public programs such as the successful Monetary Award Program (MAP), the Illinois Veteran Grant and College Illinois! sm the Commission’s groundbreaking 529 prepaid college tuition program. Students and families have free access to a wealth of financial aid and college planning information at http://www.knowhow2goillinois.org/.


A couple of notes --
  • We have at least 110 people who would like a position in the Chicago & neighboring college districts. So the odds of you getting a position locally are very slim-to-none.
  • We could use people are willing to move to downstate Illinois (such as the farming counties). It will be cross cultural, and you can choose to stay after 2 years, or move back to Chicago, armed with experience and networking skills.
  • We are accepting resumes now. Once a resume has been received, we can go on to the next stage. That closes on April 15.

Aldermen convince Chicago 2016 to up contracts for minorities, women

Dissatisfied black aldermen threatening to derail City Council approval of a community benefits ordinance persuaded Chicago 2016 to up the ante on Olympic construction set-asides — to 30 percent for black contractors and 10 percent for women.
The decision to raise the bar — from an original proposal of 25 percent and 5 percent respectively for minorities and women — was a pragmatic one.

Aldermen Ed Smith (28th) and Isaac Carothers (29th) said they had "at least 14" aldermen who were prepared to vote against the agreement. At the very least, it would have gotten ugly.

"We were going to be as vigilant as we possibly could have been to make sure it didn’t pass," Smith said, shortly before the Finance Committee signed off.

"Why … come in here with the same old 25 and 5? ... We can’t go back and tell our community we didn’t fight for more. We could have been really kicked in our community. We didn’t want that. Why not push for something better?"

Without the last-minute concession, Carothers said, "I doubt it would have passed."

Asked why it took an 11th-hour threat to get Chicago 2016 to cave, Carothers said, "People brought this issue up all during these two months, and they kept saying `no.’ ... Today was the day when the rubber meets the road. A lot of things happen on vote day."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

CTA plan would avoid service cuts, fare hikes

Well I almost would have thought "DOOMSDAY" talk was back in style!

Greg Hinz:
The Chicago Transit Authority is floating a plan to close a $155-million budget hole without raising fares, cutting service or boosting the size of its public subsidy.

But the proposal faces a very tough sales job in Springfield, where lawmakers would have to agree to allow the CTA to at least temporarily reduce contributions to its employee pension plan.

Under the proposal from CTA Board Chairwoman Carole Brown, about half of the projected $155-million hole in the CTA's $1.3 billion annual budget would be filled by using federal economic-stimulus funds. Some of that money would be switched from capital to maintenance, a switch allowed under federal law, and some is anticipated savings as the agency reaps the benefits of new buses, track work and other projects that stimulus funds are providing.

Another $18 million would come from internal savings, with about $30 million borrowed from the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), which has talked about temporary loans to the CTA, Pace and Metra to tide them through a deep recession.

But the key to the plan is $40 million Ms. Brown would like to save by reducing mandatory CTA contributions to its pension fund.
Why is it the CTA is always having their hands out? Seems to me they need some house cleaning and that means balancing their books. I hope that the last think they would do is to raise fares, however.

Is there a parking meter rebellion?

Carol Marin and Mike from The Expired Meter talking about the growing pains of privatizing the city's parking meters on Chicago Tonight

You can also watch the video at the Chicago Tonight video archives.

WTTW needs to work on the coding for video embedding!

UPDATE: From the Tribune today!
Chicago is sending out its own mechanics—and billing the private company now responsible for operating parking meters in the city—in a belated effort to catch up on a torrent of problems that include broken meters and inaccurate signs about parking rates and enforcement, officials said Wednesday.

Indications of a more urgent approach to fixing the problems became apparent Monday morning when the Tribune observed meter inspectors and repair personnel working downtown.

It followed a Tribune story on Friday that exposed the broad scope of the problems and how drivers and business owners are angry at the city, which watched rates quadruple this year as part of a 75-year deal to lease 36,000 meters to Chicago Parking Meters LLC for almost $1.2 billion.
Anyone have an issues with these parking meters that they want to share?

Strolling along 87th

WVON-AM studios on East 87th Street two weeks ago!

Business Leaders Tempted to Leave Illinois Over Proposed Tax Hike

WGIL news:
Mike Nobis, president of Creative Printers and Mailing in Quincy, which is right along the Illinois-Missouri border, says the business climate in Illinois isn't that good right now, and border towns in Missouri in Iowa notice. Nobis says towns like Palmyra, Mo. would love to have more jobs, and with Missouri's lower corporate tax rates, he has been tempted to pack up and move across the river. But he says he stays because Illinois' economy is more powerful and diverse than that of surrounding states.

Nobis says in his company's 101-year history, he has never had to lay off employees, but if the governor's proposed tax hikes take effect, that probably will happen. He says if Quinn truly wanted to stimulate the economy, he'd lower the business tax and let the business sector stimulate itself.

VIDEO: Atlanta city councilman talk about his plans

Kwame Hall talks about his plans for his district in Atlanta, GA while he hosts a fundraiser.

Via MyUrbanReport!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Recent comment

On an almost year old post regarding successors to Bobby Rush although this person got the congressional district wrong:
I would support Ald. Lyle for the 2nd congressional seat if she'd only fix the pot holes on the side streets,have the drug dealers removed from our ward,enforce marshall law on 79th street,not rant against Daley then flip flop voting on suppresive traffic issues in council.
Hmmm! To who ever posted this comment you should know that the Alderman actually reads the blog.

Also, I've called for people to report what's happening on the side streets. Especially during the controversy regarding plowing the side streets. This blog will always been open to those who want to talk about issues on the side streets whatever they may be. That will include potholes, loitering, snowplowing, or anything like that.

As for removing drug dealers well, what does that mean? Do you mean arrest them and prosecute them? I hope you know that surely that takes a lot of effort especially using the legal system. Of course I would also hope she doesn't go the Frank Melton route and go strictly on emotion and then force their way into a place without a warrant and with little or no substantive evidence. Of course in combating the issue of drug dealing there are probably other strategies worth noting here.

Enforce martial law well I'm not so sure she has the authority to do that. Actually I'm not sure any of our officials have that authority to declare martial law let alone enforce it. Even if it was just a street we're talking about. I would like to invite you to explain why there should be martial law on 79th Street. This blog is all about dialog, no one will go after you if you wish to state your case.

Heh to the last point. OK well it lets me know that the ones complaining about Mayor Daley aren't all on the north side of town or anything like that. On top of that there are those in the ward who would like to see the Alderman stand up to the mayor. Indeed there are many around the city who would like to see their Alderman stand up to the mayor. Some of those individual read this blog so I hope that when I blog about citywide issues that you comment and you get connected with other concerned individuals around the city.

Let me just itierate that this blog is here for the purposes of dialogue. We can talk about these various issues and like I said the Alderman reads the blog. I hope that you subscribe via e-mail or in feed reader in addition to bookmarking this blog keep checking us. Hopefully you might lead this blog into issues that we should be talking about.

Ill. unemployment at 17-year high

Unemployment in Illinois hit its highest level in February in over 17 years, the Illinois Department of Employment Security said Wednesday.

The unemployment rate soared to 8.6% last month, up from a revised 7.8% in January, reaching a level the state has not seen since December 1991, according to the department, which publishes state figures on a delayed basis compared to national jobs data. The total number of unemployed in Illinois grew to 570,100, the highest since November 1983.

“A national and local effort is needed to lift our country and our state from the depths of this recession,” IDES Director Maureen O’Donnell said in a statement.

Unemployment in Illinois exceeded the national rate, which climbed to a 25-year high of 8.1% in February. During the month, the economy lost 651,000 jobs nationwide. That was the 14th straight month of job losses, bringing the national total to 4.4 million jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007.
Well don't let that discourage you since just below this post is a business in the ward hiring. There are surely jobs out there. Hopefully we have some luck in finding them. ;)

Time to give up fight, OK Chatham Wal-Mart

Sun-Times commentary on Wal-Mart in Chatham and Ald. Brookins:
Chicago -- specifically, the jobs- and grocery-starved South Side -- has always needed Wal-Mart. And now, with unemployment among African Americans approaching 14 percent, the South Side needs Wal-Mart like never before.

Chicago opened its first Wal-Mart, in Austin neighborhood on the West Side in 2006. In that store's first two years, it generated $10.3 million in new sales tax revenue and created more than 400 permanent jobs. The average hourly wage, excluding managers, is $11.30.

For five years, Wal-Mart has been contemplating a second, larger store, with a full grocery, at 83rd and Stewart in Chatham, but it has been thwarted at every turn.

The Chatham store would create up to 650 permanent jobs, plus 1,500 construction jobs. It would give South Siders who live in "food deserts" a close and convenient place to buy groceries, including fresh fruits and vegetables, at good prices.

Chatham Ald. Howard Brookins plans to introduce an ordinance, probably next month, to pave the way for the long-awaited Wal-Mart in his ward. We urge the City Council to back Brookins.

In 2004, the council first voted down the Chatham Wal-Mart. Then, in 2006, the council passed a big-box ordinance requiring large stores to pay at least $13 an hour in wages and benefits. It was vetoed by Mayor Daley, but the push stalled big-box development. Last year, Wal-Mart and Brookins tried once again, but the city planning department turned them down.

This time around, Brookins will ask the City Council to alter a redevelopment agreement for the 83rd and Stewart site to allow for a Wal-Mart.
Typical reasons Wal-Mart has faced opposition in Chicago is due to unions who don't want to see established unionized stores undercut by Wal-Mart's wages. Also Wal-Mart has faced opposition due to how they are said to pay little to their workers. Although Wal-Mart jobs are likely to be the first jobs of young people in high school or college. In addition to health care benefits which this commentary say have improved but is far from perfect. If you remember that's one of the things that was a part of the vetoed big box ordinance.

Via CapFax morning shorts!

Ald. Brookins on Good Day Chicago

Hey we were just talking about our neighboring alderman to the west who hopes to build a Wal-Mart in his ward right across the Dan Ryan on 83rd Street. This in spite of heavy opposition from members of the city council and the unions. And this is what dominated that discussion in this brief video.

Will this store be built and operational in the near future? We'll see!

You can also watch this segment here!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Creative Floral and Gifts is hiring

Creative Floral and Gifts is hiring!

In this recession, it's good to know there is still hope. Now would be an especially exciting time, as Easter, and even more so, weddings and Mother's Day are coming up.

Creative Floral is located at the corner of 79th & Calumet (1 block west of Martin Luther King Drive). (343 E. 79th, to be exact).

I’ve been there several times, and the service has been wonderful. Check our previous entries for more information.

Pictured here is my daughter with the sign.

For more information about the position, please contact them at 773-846-2929

Alderman's push for 2nd Wal-Mart could renew big box fight

Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) said Monday he plans to introduce an amended redevelopment agreement at the April 22 Council meeting that would allow Wal-Mart to build its second Chicago store at a former Chatham industrial site.

"There's no other way to get this moving. The [Daley] administration is not willing to do it themselves. The only way is to force their hand is by spelling out that Wal-Mart shall be permitted to come," Brookins said.

"I think there are 30 folks who will vote with me on it. It may open the door to bringing back another type of big box type ordinance."
Some activity on the vacant land at Chatham Market could be of some use right now generating revenue instead of continuing a fight that would only serve to block some economic development right now. Especially if no one else is coming around the corner to build there and provide jobs and such.

Via CapFax morning shorts.

9th Ald. Anthony Beale on Good Day Chicago

He talks about Special Service Areas (SSAs) that are helping to fund private security firms and private street cleaners along 103rd Street and Michigan Avenue in his ward. His wish to have private security firms to issue minor citations has become a news item as of late.

He also tackles the issue of foreclosure which is said to be an issue down that way. Beale urges those under the gun to seek help immediately and not wait until the last minute.

BTW, I wish that FOX Chicago would update their list of Aldermanic interviews.

Sen. Link backs school mergers to save money

Clout St.:
Democratic state Sen. Terry Link of Waukegan says he would support legislative efforts to streamline all levels of government, including consolidation of school districts, as a method of achieving savings for taxpayers before backing Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposal to hike income taxes.
“We’ve got to look at ways that we can help people save money, directly and indirectly, and if we could do things like consolidation of schools, do other things that are going to save people money, we’ve got to do that so when they put their hand in their pocket, there’s money there,” Link said on WGN-AM (720).

Link cited a need to achieve “efficiencies in government,” including the always controversial issue of consolidating the number of school districts and perhaps eliminating other units of government, to achieve savings for taxpayers.
Not sure if it's still true, but Illinois was said to have the largest number of local governments in the nation!

Trent steps down as ISP director

In The Telegraph he answers the charges against him regarding the state police's refusal to obey expungement orders:
He acknowledged the issues raised by the Chicago Reporter and Madigan may have concerned Quinn "to a degree," but he defended the State Police's stance on the matter.

"I don't believe that child molesters should have their records expunged," Trent said. "Contrary to (Madigan's) numbers, ISP expunged 32,000 criminal records in the last four years. There are 2,700 outstanding in a particular court in Chicago that she believes we are delinquent on.

"We notified the petitioner on those expungements; we notified the state's attorney. Our bureau that handles that failed to notify the court that we disagreed with the decisions on those.

"There are some things that can't be expunged, by law," Trent said. "If a judge issues a court order for expungement of one of those things, that's invalid. We believe all 2,700 of these are invalid. Many of them are child molesters. I don't believe that some of those records should be expunged."
Via Capitol Fax!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Burger King is re-opening!

Burger King re-opening on Tuesday, March 24. OK, we've got a couple of them here in Chatham. Which one are we talking about? Hint: It is not the one Jennifer Hudson used to work at (that one is on 87th, near the Dan Ryan).

This one is at 418 E. 79th.

From this photo (and others) Burger King remodeling is almost done

From the looks of things, it looks like it might be a more café-style design (see Mather’s More Than a Café at 153 E. 83rd Street).

Let us know how you like the new interior!

And more important -- how is the service? Does it match the physical re-make?

When I saw the sign that they were remodeling, I thought that meant they were closing. With most restaurants, “remodeling” is a codeword for closing. Such is the case with Captain Smith’s Seafood, just down the block at 353 E. 79th.

Food deserts will bring Daley back into Wal-Mart battle with unions

Laura Washington:
It's called kicking the can down the road. In 2006, Mayor Richard M. Daley took a political hit that still reverberates today. The Service Employee International Union rammed a "big box" ordinance down the throats of the City Council. Its goal: To keep Wal-Mart mega stores out of underserved neighborhoods.

The ordinance would have required wage and work rules for businesses with more than $1 billion in annual sales in stores of 90,000 square feet or more. The Council passed it. Daley vetoed it, arguing it would hurt economically depressed neighborhoods.

The SEIU, which has long crucified Wal-Mart as anti-labor, targeted aldermen who didn't back the measure and neatly knee-capped them, knocking off six incumbents in the February 2007 aldermanic primary.
The economy is strangling the economic life out of the neighborhoods -- particularly the South Side, proposed site of the Daley-Olympics. Hundreds of new jobs in Chicago's depressed neighborhoods? That should be golden to our mayor.

Especially in Chicago's food deserts -- vast swaths of the city's South and West Side that are bereft of full-service grocery stores but chock-full of greasy chicken shacks and overpriced "convenience" marts. About 500,000 Chicagoans live in food deserts, according to Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting Group, which studies the food desert calamity.

Not long ago, Wal-Mart was scouting prime food desert locations and pitching to build new stores with grocery offerings. Last fall, the Daley administration pushed six sites in dire need of a grocery store. Some Daley allies, like 21st Ward Ald. Howard Brookins, hunger to revive the Wal-Mart push.
Daley and his City Council should be feeling the heat from denizens of the food deserts, where decent food options, jobs and economic development dried up decades ago. Communities like Chatham, Washington Park and Roseland, where some folks trek for miles to get affordable, fresh food. I am not talking about hifalutin' fare like arugula, our president's favorite. How about some cucumbers, broccoli, an orange or two?

Obesity, diabetes and heart disease are ravishing African-American communities. Jobs are vital, but so is our health.

The SEIU boasts 100,000 members in Chicago; 70 percent are African American, Morrison says. There are 5,000 union members in Brookins' ward alone.

Those neighborhoods are fertile ground for some innovative union organizing. Perhaps opening more Wal-Marts there is the Trojan Horse that opens the door to unionizing the company.
Via CapFax morning shorts!

Public vs. private education students at UI

Daily Illini:
A recent study by two University professors is challenging the assumption that private schools offer a better education than public schools.

Sarah Lubienski and her husband Chris Lubienski, both professors in Education, released a follow-up study to research performed several years ago. In the original study, researchers found that public school fourth- and eighth-graders scored higher on math standardized testing than their counterparts in private schools.

Chris Lubienski said the study looked at math scores because math is considered the best measure of what one learns in school. Children learn to read at home, he added. The study accounted for demographics and compared students of similar economic backgrounds. The research was compiled using federal government data.

"The assumptions that people should choose private schools because they're academically superior doesn't really hold up," Chris Lubienski said.
Via Illinipundit!

Here's another article:
Sarah Lubienski, a professor of curriculum and instruction in the U. of I. College of Education, says teacher certification and reform-oriented teaching practices correlated positively with higher achievement on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam for public-school students.

“According to our results, schools that hired more certified teachers and had a curriculum that de-emphasized learning by rote tended to do better on standardized math tests,” Lubienski said. “And public schools had more of both.”

To account for the difference in test scores, Lubienski and her co-authors, education professor Christopher Lubienski (her husband) and doctoral student Corinna Crane, looked at five critical factors: school size, class size, parental involvement, teacher certification and instructional practices.

In previous research, the Lubienskis discovered that after holding demographic factors constant, public school students performed just as well if not better than private schools students on standardized math tests.

“There are so many reasons why you would think that the results should be reversed – that private schools would outscore public schools in standardized math test scores,” she said. “This study looks at the underlying reasons why that’s not necessarily the case.”

Of the five factors, school size and parental involvement “didn’t seem to matter all that much,” Lubienski said, citing a weak correlation between the two factors as “mixed or marginally significant predictors” of student achievement.
Very interesting!

DePaul, Roosevelt draw transfers with instant acceptance letters

Chi-Town Daily News:
The interminably long wait between applying to a new school and getting accepted is something of a rite of passage for many transfer students.

But a growing number of schools, including at least two in the Chicago area, have found ways to cut down that wait and sometimes get rid of it completely.

In recent years, DePaul University and Roosevelt University have created fast-track open houses that let prospective students drop off all their transcripts, forms and recommendations at once and get a yes or no answer on the spot.

“We wanted to give an opportunity for transfer students to have a smoother transition and take away a little bit of the fear of applying,” says Pamela Lee, who helps oversee transfer student admissions at DePaul.

Last month alone, DePaul had 300 students come to eight events in the city the suburbs. And about 78 percent of those get admitted, Lee says. DePaul's program is in its third year.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Chatham Food Legacy contnues -- outside of our neighborhood!

Illinois still has one African-American grocery store…

Unfortunately, it’s not in Chatham anymore. The former owners of Chatham Food, Leonard and Donna Harris, sold it because their children were not interested in continuing the family business. So at least for a short while, there were NO black-owned full line grocery stores in Illinois. (No, Moo and Oink don't count)

However, John and Maggie Anderson of the Ebony Experiment (where they are attempting to buy from only black-owned businesses) are going to Farmers Best Market.

The Taxin' Illini

Wall Street Journal:
Over the last six years, Illinois has ranked 45th out of 50 states in job creation, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council. In 2008, 175,000 jobs vanished -- a medium-sized city of lost jobs. Mr. Quinn's tax increase will mean 50% higher taxes for nearly every small business, subchapter S company and corporation in the state.

This is a state that does almost everything wrong economically. It is not a right-to-work state and is thus heavily unionized, repelling new business investment. It has the fifth highest minimum wage among the states, the fifth most trial-lawyer friendly legal code, the sixth highest workers' compensation costs, and the 11th highest property taxes. It has one of the highest inheritance taxes, at 16%, so retirees flee to states with no death tax, such as Florida and Arizona. A rare Illinois advantage has been its relatively low income-tax rate, but that will shrink or vanish under Mr. Quinn's increase.

Over the last six years the state's revenues climbed by $7 billion, but the flush times led to flush spending. Per capita state expenditures after inflation have climbed to $4,700 in 2008 from $3,200 in 1998. The state now spends roughly $13,000 per public-school student in Chicago, but the money has done little to reverse a dismal high school graduation rate of 51%. The charter schools in Chicago take a demographically similar group of students and achieve 77% graduation rates, but Democrats have put a cap on more charters.
Read the whole thing!

Via Illinois Review!

Unfortunately what a person with a camera can do

Hmmm, good case of gotcha journalism. A politician forcefully and vulgarily pushing a constituent out of his office. Wow! This certainly isn't good for constituent services.


Is the Alderman truly pushing out a constituent because this is a concerned citizen who cares about the job his elected official is doing? Or perhaps this is an attempt to provoke a response that was ready made for a camera?

This vid has circulated on Newsalert or even The Bench. Even seen on the conservative blog MichelleMalkin.com.

However, The Bench questions the story as portrayed on this vid. Even goes so far as to call the activists who produced or edited this video as "lying activists". This vid may not present the whole story. Also note that this vid may have been posted late last month but was made last year.

Charge it to my account once more

I missed this post at Clout City, but consider this a follow-up to the WLS-TV I-Team report on Aldermanic finances that I blogged on Friday. Please note this was posted at Clout City one month before the I-Team report.

Daley, Weis intrigued by security guard proposal

Both Mayor Daley and Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis said Saturday they were intrigued by a proposal to allow private security guards to issue citations for minor offenses including moving violations and littering.

“In an economic crisis, it’s not a bad idea,” Daley said of the idea, floated last week by two South Side aldermen. Daley said the idea would need to be refined and the guards may need additional training, but he likes the concept and “sometimes you have to think outside of the box.”

Weis said he hasn’t met many police officers who love to write tickets. “In these times, let’s be creative,” said Weis. “If we can have police officers focusing on higher priority crimes, I think it’s worth looking at.”

Tickets currently are issued only by Chicago Police officers. Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) and Ald. John Pope (10th) want armed security guards already patrolling three commercial districts on the South Side to be able to write tickets for everything from parking and moving violations to loitering and littering.

Officials with the police officers union vowed to fight the plan.

Previous post
Rent-a-cops could write tickets on South Side

Pension fund for CPS axes 2 managers

The pension fund for Chicago Public Schools teachers terminated two Chicago-based investment managers for underperformance.

Ariel Investments LLC and Chicago Equity Partners LLC were axed by the Public School Teachers’ Pension and Retirement Fund of Chicago at a board meeting Thursday, according to Kevin Huber, the fund’s executive director.

The timing of the decision was a surprise to the firms.

The two managers, which handled nearly $200 million of the fund’s $9 billion in assets, had been put on notice after three-year returns lagged market indexes. They were scheduled to meet with the fund’s trustees in May to argue their case for retention.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Video: Urban policy ideas

We listen in on Antonio French who is the Alderman-elect from St. Louis' 21st who is visiting a conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin talking about different ideas to revitalize urban areas. From taxes to starting some urban farms

You can see more of the Alderman-elect at his blog, PubDef. Or check out his campaign website as well.

Added bonus video of an urban farm in Milwaukee.

Illinois House pledges $250M Olympics backstop

The Illinois House has voted to pledge up to $250 million to Chicago for any potential losses it may incur if the city hosts the 2016 Olympic Games.

Supporters of the state-backed insurance program say it is a must for Chicago to secure the games. The Illinois Senate is expected to take up the bill next week.

Democratic Rep. William Burns of Chicago said Thursday the insurance is a low-risk deal for the state, adding the Olympics could have $22 billion economic impact for Illinois. Burns pointed out that the last three Summer Olympics in North America have averaged a $733 million surplus.

State Police director has reportedly resigned

Capitol Fax

One reason to care about who he, Larry Trent, is, for all the expungement orders that were ignored by the state police. It may not necessarily be of his doing, but one should consider who appointed him.

Maps for the 34th state house district

From the Tutor Mentor Connection and Mapping for Justice.

These maps mainly look at mentoring/tutoring programs in relationship to failing schools, poverty, hospitals/clinics, college/universities, places of worship, banks, and pharmacies.

Using the data on these maps an elected official or a very concerned leader could determine what programs are needed where for the benefits of these failing schools. In addition to that these maps seek out where such programs can find sponsors especially from their neighborhood churches, banks, or pharmacies. Indeed even potential tutors or mentors for these students in struggling schools.

Are there any mentoring/tutoring programs that need attention in the 6th Ward? Leave a comment or send an e-mail if you know of any.

1,500 Simeon students told: We must stop the killing

More than 1,500 Simeon High School students were told Thursday that the fight against the kind of senseless gun violence that claimed 14-year-old classmate Gregory Robinson III must begin with them.

"Stand up. Be responsible. Help us fight this fight to get these guns off the streets,'' an impassioned Annette Nance-Holt, mother of slain Julian student Blair Holt, told a sea of students during a third-period tribute to Robinson on the street outside Simeon.

"Our people came from slavery to this?'' Nance-Holt said. "We came all this way to have nothing except funerals we can't afford to pay for?''

Nance-Holt and others urged kids to alert police, pastors or school staff if they hear of trouble on the streets or know of gang-bangers packing guns.

"Who has these guns? Who's killing these innocent people? You know who they are. You know who the gang-bangers are. You are just as responsible as we are for letting this happen in our communities,'' Nance-Holt said.

Some students choked back tears as they heard their freshman classmate described as a "hero'' who was shot to death in the back seat of a car last Friday as he protected his cousin's 10-month-old son and 4-year-old goddaughter from a hail of bullets.

Robinson was shot in the back, and no one else was injured, as he and two older cousins were traveling home from a Simeon basketball game. Police think Robinson was not the intended target.

Simeon class president Ronnie Mosley urged students to honor Robinson, one of 29 CPS students killed so far this school year, by launching a peace campaign.

"From now on Simeon, we need to be an example,'' Mosley told the hushed crowd outside the school at 8147 S. Vincennes.

"Can we at least have 29 days of nonviolence and peace? Can we at least do that?'' Mosley asked. "Let's go out and be that solution.''
What can be done to cut that number in half or even cut it down to zero, if at all possible?

Friday, March 20, 2009

CSU press conference location change

From a recently send press release from Chicago State:
The location for the previously announced news conference has been moved to the legislative assembly rooms of the Academic Library, third floor.
Previous post
Proposed scholarship offers free year of college tuition to eighth grade students

State court: Pardon doesn't mean clean slate

Daily Herald:
The Illinois Supreme Court ruled Thursday that gubernatorial pardons based on convicts' innocence do not automatically clear their criminal record -- a decision some attorneys said would cause their clients undue anguish.

The ruling involves pardons that declared two men, Stanley Howard and Dana Holland, innocent of violent crimes and could have been the first step to officially wiping away their convictions. But when the men took steps to expunge their records, judges said no.
Thursday's ruling applies only to pardons where a convict is declared innocent -- not to pardons issued on other grounds, like failing health. In recent decades, there have been only several dozen pardons that explicitly declared a convict's innocence.

A key issue the Illinois Supreme Court grappled with was whether lawmakers meant to give courts discretion over whether to wipe clear the record of someone wrongly convicted. In its ruling, the court found they did have that discretion.

"But our position is that the language intended that once the governor issued a pardon, then expungement would be automatically carried out by the court," said Holland's attorney, Karen Daniel. "The Supreme Court didn't see it that way."

In Howard's case, attorneys representing Illinois argued in circuit court that he shouldn't have his record regarding the wrongful conviction cleared because he had other criminal convictions that were not in doubt.
Via CapFax morning shorts!

Rent-a-cops could write tickets on South Side

Back in December I blogged about some police action investigating a burglary and one of the cars weren't a Chicago Police car but that of a private security service. I would have easily thought that they were deployed by a private burglar alarm service although I don't know if that's common in the city. I get the feeling we might see more of them.

I saw a nice post about the use of private security patrolling the Roseland neighborhood over at 2nd City Cop. This morning an article in the Sun-Times:
Private security guards patrolling three Far South Side commercial strips would be empowered to write tickets -- for everything from parking and moving violations to loitering, littering and graffiti -- under a groundbreaking plan that faces strong resistance from rank-and-file Chicago Police officers.

The controversial idea comes at a time when City Hall is slowing police hiring and violent crime is up.

Aldermen Anthony Beale (9th) and John Pope (10th) said they're putting the finishing touches on an ordinance that would mark a precedent-setting expansion of the powers of private security officers hired by local property owners.

"I'm adding to the safety and security of residents of the 9th Ward. That's what I'm doing," Beale said.
Inspired by a 1995 crime-fighting experiment in Marquette Park, several Chicago neighborhoods have established special service areas in which property owners pay higher taxes to augment police protection.

Until now, the armed and uniformed private security officers in those areas have been allowed to detain suspects and summon Chicago Police officers. They cannot make arrests or write tickets.
They want to empower Total Security Management of Oakbrook Terrace to write parking tickets, moving violations and citations for offenses including loitering, littering and graffiti.

The firm was hired last year to patrol three crime-plagued commercial strips: Michigan Avenue from 100th to 116th; Commercial Avenue from 83rd to 92nd, and 103rd Street from State to Corliss.

"It gives the community more control over illegal activity,'' Beale said. "Police are there to serve and protect. If we can give them some extra help to serve and protect, that's a win-win for everybody."
Should we contract out the ability to arrest, patrol, or writing tickets to private companies?

WLS-TV - Unaccounted aldermanic allowances

I-Team report:
What happens when Chicago aldermen get their hands on generous expense accounts? And why isn't anyone watching?

The economy may be in the tank but Chicago aldermen are now flush with spending money. Their expense allotment more than doubled last year.

Each of the fifty members of Chicago's City Council now receives $73,280 a year for expenses.
Chicago overlooks part of the largest fresh water body in the world which provides drinking water for millions of us.

But according to city expense records obtained by the I-Team, Lake Michigan water isn't good enough for most Chicago alderman. They pay thousands of dollars a year from their city expense accounts to have bottled water delivered to their ward offices.

Among them is South Side alderman Anthony Beale who also paid more than $16,000 in tax money last year to a public relations firm that helps prepare ward newsletters sent out a few times a year, screens press calls, and sets up media interviews such as ours.

Goudie: "Nobody else in the city council has a public relations agency handling their calls from the media.

Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th Ward: I do know that the mayor has a very large media staff, um, and ya know, we're basically the mayor of a small ward."

City council rules allow the $73,000 in expense money to be spent on anything that aldermen consider "ordinary and necessary."

In some cases, purchases and payments are first made by the aldermen themselves or their election campaigns, meaning that the city many times reimburses alderman personally or their political organizations.
Read the whole thing!

Via Uptown Update!

RTA director talks CTA, ridership and budget crisis

Chi-Town Daily News:
RTA Executive Director Stephen E. Schlickman began the year with several challenges: new leadership at the Chicago Transit Authority, a call for more minorities and women at transit agencies, and a multimillion-dollar disagreement over the extent of the CTA's 2008 budget deficit.

The RTA and the CTA are waiting on last year's final quarterly results to reconcile their figures next month.

But there are also bright spots for the leader of the Regional Transportation Authority.

The American Public Transportation Association released figures that show a four percent climb in mass-transit ridership nationwide in 2008, and the RTA's ridership growth was even larger than the national average. The agency also received more than $400 million in federal stimulus funds.

Meanwhile, transit officials say they're hopeful that the Illinois Legislature will adopt a new capital-spending bill for their agencies this year.
Read the whole Q & A!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

FOX Chicago: Aldermen From All 50 Wards

I got wind of this series via Progress Illinois. I remember in 2006 ago I blogged a few profiles of Chicago Aldermen that were courtesy of Rick Kogan from the Tribune. All of the 50 Aldermen who were profiled. I blogged about two who were actually retired next year such as Ted Thomas who retired and Shirley Coleman who lost her re-election bid.

I look forward to seeing Alderman Lyle's edition of this series, but let's show one from close to home with Sandi Jackson from the 7th Ward. You can watch her vid. here as well.

What the series seeks to cover is what issues are important to Chicago's Wards. Perhaps you might have some issues in mind and share them here. Write a comment or send an email.

I have a few ideas economic development (especially job creation or the creation and development of businesses), education (especially for elementary and secondary school students),  and crime (especially discussing prevention in addition to the investigation and prosecution of crimes).

I just know these aren't the only ones so let the world know about your ideas!

Auto bailout may help Illinois-based suppliers

A $5-billion lending program by the U.S. Treasury could help struggling Chicago-area auto parts makers who have suffered steep drops in orders as car companies pull back on production.

The funds would be made available from the government's Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, said members of the Obama administration's auto task force. It would create a financial entity similar to a revolving credit to provide financing for auto parts that large suppliers have shipped to the Big Three automakers but have not yet been paid for.

U.S. automakers — General Motors Corp., Chrysler LLC and Ford Motor Co. — would have the option of using the program and would be required to pay a 5 percent fee of up to $250 million to join. The car makers would designate the parts suppliers who need financing and the suppliers would have to agree to terms of the government-backed protection and pay a small fee for the right to participate.

The money would provide some relief to Illinois-based auto parts suppliers such as Tenneco Inc. of Lake Forest and Illinois Tool Works Inc. of Glenview that have been battered by the sharp downturn in the automotive industry.

Ray LaHood denies disparaging Illinois work ethic

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is disputing claims by the president of an energy company that the former Illinois congressman is the source of comments claiming Illinois workers have an "awful" work ethic.

Globe Energy LLC president David Jones said LaHood told him a few years ago that Illinois has a bad reputation when it comes to work ethic. Jones said he has found it true that Illinoisans' have a questionable work ethic.

LaHood said Wednesday that Jones' claim he made the comment was "baloney."

LaHood said he met with Jones several years ago when Jones was attempting to establish Globe Energy, an English company, in Peoria. The company provides energy saving technology to commercial firms.
Not good, especially since he used to be a Congressman from Illinois. Well we can't prove whether he said what he said to that man. Indeed it's more plausible that this Jones character probably said what he said. People from Illinois are being dumped on good right now!

Is the income tax hike too small

Well according to James Meeks it is if you read this Mark Brown column:
Case in point: Sen. James Meeks, the South Side minister who has been the state's most outspoken advocate of an income tax increase for the past seven years.

Meeks supports raising the income tax so that the state will adequately fund education. In particular, he wants to end the over-reliance on property taxes for school funding that shortchanges students in poorer communities such as some of those he represents in the south suburbs.

In the process, Meeks had also hoped to use a big chunk of the money from an income tax increase to provide direct property tax relief.
But Quinn's proposal does little to address the education funding problem, at least for the short term. Of the $2.8 billion in new state revenue that Quinn says his income tax plan would generate, he would direct only $174 million to schools and $40 million for colleges. And there's nothing in there for property tax relief.

"If there is anything that's going to be a deal breaker, that's going to be it," Meeks told me by telephone Wednesday from Springfield after Quinn finished his speech to the Legislature. "We have to get one of the two. We've always wanted both."
Well I'm sure many of us don't like tax increases in general, but the state's financial picture well it seems to make sense that we should consider everything from fees and tax hikes to making some cuts. The other guy who was outed from office in January wouldn't hike taxes no matter what. Of course some will blame him for the current financial picture of this state. We're supposed to have an $11.5 billion deficit.

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Block club sign

I took this picture on New Years Eve on the corner of 95th and Indiana.

Ah so this is the magnet engineering program?

The Alderman e-mailed me a while back to let me know that Harlan has a magnet program in engineering. I didn't think to really check it out until I saw this link for this on Harlan's official website. Well one of their official websites. I'm very curious to know what kind of students would be attracted to such a program.

Also check out this description of Harlan on the CPS website:
Harlan offers a college prep and Education To Careers (ETC) program. Harlans Math, Science and Technology Academy (MSTA) boasts state-of-the-art science laboratories, math mini-labs and three computer labs. Through College Bridge and Excel, students can take classes at Chicago State University and other colleges. ETC programs are offered in carpentry, information technology, software applications, web design, Tech Prep, Occupational Prep, Licensed Practical Nursing, and Police and Firefighters Academy. Honors classes are offered in all core subjects. Advanced Placement (AP) classes are offered in English, history, science and math. Harlan is the only high school in Illinois with the prestigious NASA Explorer School program. Initiatives include an interdisciplinary curriculum, teleconferencing, and hands-on, engaging activities.
Very cool!

Proposed scholarship offers free year of college tuition to eighth grade students

A press release from Chicago State:
Illinois Rep. Mike Boland plans to unveil a proposal for free college tuition for eighth grade students at a news conference next Monday, March 23 at 1 p.m. at Chicago State University. The plan will offer scholarships to eighth grade students in exchange for a pledge from the students to avoid drug or alcohol abuse, have no arrest record with law enforcement, as well as remain suspension free for the rest of their high school careers. The scholarships will be equivalent in value to a year’s tuition at a community college, which could also be applied to a state university such as CSU, as well as any other public or private college or university in the state of Illinois.

Boland, who chairs the higher education committee, calls the grants “Challenge Scholarships.” His proposal is modeled after a similar concept in Indiana called the 21st Century Scholars Program, established in 1990, which has awarded in excess of 15,000 scholarships.
If you want to attend this press conference go to the third floor of the Cook Administration Building in the President's Gallery.

State fee hikes and other budget items

Gov. Pat Quinn is asking Illinois drivers to pay higher fees for renewing their driver's license and vehicle stickers.

He says the increases will help fix crumbling roads and bridges.

Quinn wants a $26 billion construction program, supporting 340,000 jobs.

State officials have argued for years over how to pay for such a construction plan.

Quinn's answer is to raise the cost of license plate stickers by $20, bringing their cost to $99. A driver's license that now costs $10 would climb to $20.

Neither of those fees have changed in at least a decade.
Of course in addition to this in light of the financial condition of the state...

Paying More to Work In Illinois - MSNBC

Quinn to call for sales tax holiday - The Southern

Higher taxes, fees in plan to balance state budget - RRStar

Big Tax Increases Could Be On The Way From The State - mystateline.com

Illinois Governor Gives More Details on Budget - CPR

Illinois Politicians Disagree on Tax Hike Option - CPR

Daley Refuses to Weigh-in On Tax Hike - CPR

House Speaker Madigan Open to Tax Hike - CPR

Former Governors Offer Quinn Budget Advice - CPR

State employee furloughs part of Quinn budget plan - sj-r.com

Share the wealth and spread the pain - Illinoize