Thursday, December 30, 2010

Friends, colleagues honor fallen firefighter Corey Ankum at visitation

Ankum's story was first brought to light by Worlee at Concerned Citizen's of Chatham. This story from the Tribune was about Ankum's visitation:
On Wednesday, firefighters from throughout the Chicago area marked their third day of commemorating a fallen colleague.

This time, they gathered to honor Corey Ankum, who friends and co-workers called a promising addition to the force since he started about a year ago.

"One is too many. It's very tough on everyone," Chicago Fire Commissioner Bob Hoff said of the strain of planning and attending multiple memorials taking place most of this week for Ankum and fallen fireman Edward Stringer.

Hundreds of firefighters and Ankum's former colleagues with the Chicago police — he had done a short stint with the force — made their way to Apostolic Church of God on the South Side to salute and pray for him at his visitation service.

Ankum and Stringer were killed Dec. 22 after a roof collapsed on them, in what was the deadliest blaze for Chicago firefighters in more than a decade. Seventeen others were injured, including one fireman who on Wednesday returned to a hospital for follow-up care. He is expected to recover, fire officials said.
Read the whole thing!

Coalition calls for an elected school board

Crossposted at Shedd Public School!

The video above is from Chicago Tonight which talks about calls for an elected Chicago School Board.

Below an article from the Chicago Tribune:
Chicago's next mayor shouldn't control the city's public school system, a coalition of teachers, community leaders, parents and students said Wednesday, raising an idea that quickly splintered the major contenders for the office.

The group called for an elected school board that would geographically represent the city instead of the current panel the mayor appoints. The proposed board would dedicate seven of the 13 seats for parents and community members. Two would go to teachers and one each to an administrator, education researcher, paraprofessional and business person.

The push is in its early stages; advocates will need to persuade state legislators to overhaul the landmark 1995 law that put control of Chicago Public Schools into Mayor Richard Daley's hands. To that end, the group is lobbying "key legislators," said Jitu Brown of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, who declined to say which lawmakers the group is targeting as sponsors.
In an open letter to the "citizens of Chicago," the coalition also recommended the board stagger its meetings between weekday mornings in district headquarters and evening sessions in area schools. A student advisory board also would be convened and report to district leaders.

The proposed changes would upend the system that allows Daley to appoint a school CEO and board members. The school board now includes seven members drawn from several top financial and consulting firms in the city.

But Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said that's no substitute for the voices of parents, teachers and students who are in the city's schools every day. The union is one of the main architects of the proposal.

What's more, the union wants the return of an educator to lead the Chicago education system. Daley has favored the CEO model of leadership, picking four school chiefs in 15 years who were not career educators.

"The top-down decisions made by non-educators have not shown the improvement," Lewis said.
Before Mayor Daley took control of CPS back in 1995, I have no idea how one became a member of the School Board. In addition to that, I have no idea who appointed the School's superintendent. Today the schools have a Chief Executive Officer, the last superintendent of the public schools was Argie Johnson.

BTW, I have little problem with a CEO running the schools. Running a major school system will involve more skills than being an educator, especially if one needs to worry about making sure the school get all the necessary resources. But it's not unreasonable to call for an elected school board even if CPS remains a department of the City of Chicago where the Mayor still has a hand in who actually runs the system.

BTW, what about the Mayoral candidates on this issue you saw that in the Chicago Tonight video, but what about reading that article that I had excerpted.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Where Do We Go in 2011

In 2010 some major issues came to light in our community. We saw a rise in serious crime that took the life of Officer Thomas Wortham, an up and coming police officer and community leader. We saw the fall of education where one of our high schools Robeson was called one of the worst in the nation and three of our elementary schools, Deneen, Gillespie and Ruggles showed up on CPS probationary list. Lastly, 79th street one of the longest streets in the city of Chicago and once a mecca for African American business now is a street of empty storefronts.

While we have had our struggles this year, the new year 2011 brings a lot of promise. The election of a new mayor, a real aldermandic election, and a community that has wakened up. What do we need to do in 2011? The first topic we want to discuss is education. We cannot continue to make excuses for our schools. Whether they are elementary, secondary or post secondary we MUST demand excellence from our educational institutions. I suggest that after the election for Alderman, that the winner convene several town hall meetings where we have a serious discussions about the problems and how do we fix them. Also, look at the models that are currently being used whether its the traditional, charter, or a hybrid combining the best of both. What will work best for our community? What ideas do you have to better our schools?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Groupon for Soul Vegtarian East!

As of this posting, this deal is only good for another 9 hours.

Soul Vegetarian East Groupon

This is the restaurant at 75th & Indiana, and has been featured/mentioned several times here.

Let us know if you got this offer, or if you think of any businesses that would benefit from it.

Cornel West at Kennedy-King College

For the Chicago Urban Education forum to take place at Kennedy-King College @ 740 W. 63rd St in the Great Hall - U building on Thursday, January 6, 2011 from 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM. Do you plan to be there?

Hat-tip Ay-Sha!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Unknown Chicago on Englewood

View north on 63rd & Halsted in 1935
I really like this picture above. It was in this morning's post on Englewood from John R. Schmidt's Unknown Chicago. Every Sunday, the Chicago Now blog will quiz you on Chicago Trivia or will present pictures for you to guess where this picture was taken. This picture was from such a post on December 19th.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Chicago News Coop: Another Son of a Mayor Takes a Run at Office

This article is referring to Roderick Sawyer who is the son of Eugene Sawyer, former Mayor and also former 6th Ward Alderman before he became mayor in 1987. That wasn't long after the death of Mayor Harold Washington
Roderick Sawyer, son of Mr. Daley’s predecessor, Eugene Sawyer, has his eye on his father’s old City Council seat in the 6th Ward of the city’s South Side. He said he will need at least $150,000 to beat the incumbent, Alderman Freddrenna Lyle, and six other candidates.

To help reach that benchmark, Mr. Sawyer said, he is seeking support from the Illinois Merchants Association and from Roland Burris, the former United States senator, whose legal defense fund included Mr. Sawyer, a lawyer, as a trustee.

“I know that if I called him for advice, he’d give it to me,” Mr. Sawyer said of Mr. Burris, who joined Eugene Sawyer’s ward organization in the late 1970s. “Am I expecting a check from him? Yeah, I’m expecting a check from him. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t want to put him in a situation because I know he has a relationship with the current alderman, but he’s a friend.” 
The former US Senator says this about Sawyer:
“I’m sure there are people who remember his father fondly,” Mr. Burris said. “Some of the old-timers will have an allegiance to Roderick.”
This is what Mr. Sawyer says about his father. Having been too young to understand the political situation after Washington's death I've read that it was pretty tense. That's indicated in this article:
“They turned their backs on him,” he said. “There was a lot of misinformation going on right after Harold Washington died. Because my dad got along with other people on the other side, there was some perception that he was, as they were saying, an ‘Uncle Tom,’ which was the furthest thing from the truth.” 
Mr. Sawyer also says that he used to be a DJ for his father's campaign events and that he learned a lot about Chicago politics from his father.

Read the whole thing!

At least I beat Early and Often in sharing this story. :P

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Concerned Citizens of Chatham: Goodrun Burton remains on the ballot!

Concerned Citizens of Chatham: Updated

Worlee reports that Cassandra Goodrum Burton is on the ballot to run against Ald. Lyle for 6th Ward Alderman. Officially we now have 4 people running for Alderman in this election.

That includes the Incumbent, Roderick Sawyer who will be the first name on the ballot for Alderman, and of course Richard Wooten.

Brian Sleet and Burundi Davis still have recommendations pending against them and more hearings at that! So this objections process is still not over for them.

I would like to refer you to the previous post to learn more about Ms. Goodrum Burton.

Cassandra Goodrum Burton ad

She talks about her plans if she was to win the Aldermanic seat for the 6th Ward.

EDIT: I'm with her on the opportunity for business development on the site of the former Kennedy-King College Campus. That is a great opportunity for commercial development.

It seems she's confident that she has beaten the petition challenges to her in this 32 second clip. Rulings have not been made for her however. And as for her campaign website she plugged in this video, it's time for an update or a redesign. Can't point anyone to a website that doesn't have much on it anyway. If nothing else just set up a blog here at Blogger. Free advice I promise.
That 32 second clip was found via Early & Often.

Are you registered to vote for next year?

Municipal elections are February 22, 2011. The last day to register to vote for the municipal elections is January 25, 2011. If you're uncertain about which ward you reside in refer to this page from the City of Chicago to find out which ward you reside in. This ward abuts the 20th, 5th, 8th, 9th, 21st, 17th, and 16th Wards. I'm sure there are some reading this blog from those particular wards.

Info via Uptown Update.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Chatham Census Demographic NewsBrief

From ChathamNOW
According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the New York Times, Chatham has a 97% African-American, 1% white, and 1% Asian and 1% Hispanic as a community demographic. 
I would like very much to verify these statistics since well ChathamNow failed to offer a link to these findings or at the very least cite the source other than saying this was from the US Census or the NY Times.

YoChicago had a post up last week linking to a NY Times graphic that measures census tracts from around the country looking at race ethnicity, sexual orientation, housing prices, etc. This is based on census data.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Q&A with the Rev. James Meeks

A Sun-Times interview with Meeks, the Mayoral candidate. Here are some of the answers I do like from him:
Q. Do you have business-recruitment techniques you’ve used here that you’d like to take citywide?

A. We have the “Arise’’ program. People come to the church and propose start-up businesses. A panel of judges votes on the best presentation. The winner gets $5,000 to start a business. I’d like to see the city figure out a way to invest in start-up business. I’ve tried to work with the alderman to bring a simple thing to this neighborhood called a supermarket. I would like to use TIF [Tax Increment Financing] funds to make sure there is a grocery store in every neighborhood. I’m working with the general assembly to change the law so that revenues that exceed a certain amount in TIF accounts can be used for blighted communities.
Q. What do you think of Daley declaring parts of downtown “blighted” to start TIFs there?

A. Development downtown is good. Downtown is the crown jewel of our city. We should protect big business at all costs. When big business grows, it creates jobs. Downtown TIFs can also benefit neighborhoods like Austin and Englewood that are blighted. We want people in blighted communities to cheer every time there is a new expansion downtown … because they also know it benefits their community.
Q. You have fought to end the inequities in funding Illinois schools. As mayor would you have more leverage to fix that?

A. As long as we could show the general assembly how these dollars would translate into student improvement, I think the appetite is there right now. If we spend “X’’ number of dollars on full-day kindergarten, you’ll see improvement. We did a survey and 75 percent of people in the state are willing to pay more to education if we could show there was some improvement.
Q. How do you solve the city’s under-funded pension crisis? 

A. One of the biggest problems the new mayor faces is pensions. What real leadership does is put the proposals on the table now so everybody can see them. I think the present employees have to pay more into the pension system. We’re going to have to maybe raise the retirement age from 50 to 55. I think the city is going to have to contribute more. I think we’re going to have to move to a two-tier pension system. This will all be part of negotiations. It depends how many jobs we want to save.

Q. What do you think of leasing out city assets like parking meters, the Skyway and Midway Airport?

A. People who talk about reversing the parking meter deal, I don’t know how you can talk about reversing it when the billion dollars has already been spent. We’re stuck. I am not in favor of mortgaging our future, especially when we don’t have any assets left that would be revenue-generating. [Midway Airport] would be another short-term solution. I am not a fan of privatizing city assets. There are some worth looking at, like garbage collection. But Midway? After the parking meters, I think there is not an appetite from the citizens to privatize anything big like that.

Q. You think we could privatize garbage collection?

A. That could work, privatizing garbage collection, looking at a different grid, reducing the amount of men that are on the trucks now could work. We have three because of union rules. The one that drives it can only drive. But our situation is dire — we might not be able to do all the things that we used to do.
You know I've been wanting to write a post here saying that I'm having a tough time getting worked up about this mayoral race. Emanuel is the one who many expect to win, but the others in this race aren't people I would be crazy about voting for. Meeks could win my vote, but I feel as if he should stay in the state Senate to continue to advocate for public school changes in Springfield. He would have a tough time as Mayor, surely.

Update: Dismissed Deneen Teachers Get Bonus Pay

District 299:
Deneen staffers who lost their jobs when CPS decided to do a turnaround of their school still got TAP funding in amounts ranging from $200 to $1400 per person. "KUDOS! To an outstanding staff who continued to persevere even after losing their battle against C.P.S. to stop the "turn around " of their school," writes Mary Stack.
Been a while since we heard anything about Deneen since CPS decided to rid the school of most of its faculty. The image about is the full statement from Ms. Stack.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Concerned Citizens of Chatham: Another One Bites the Dust

Concerned Citizens of Chatham reported that Bobby Joe Johnson has been removed from the ballot this morning.

It has been ruled that Johnson has been removed from the ballot to run for Alderman of the 6th Ward. The ruling was that he failed to obtain a sufficient number of valid signatures to his petition. Almost the same situation he faced running for State Representative in the Democratic primary against the incument Andre Thapedi in 2010.

Refer to this document at the Board of Elections. Other objections to other 6th Ward Aldermanic candidates are still pending.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Petition challenges for 6th ward challengers

I'm copying this from the Board of Elections. I have only allowed the case number, objector, candidate and either dates for next hearing or some type of ruling that has either occurred or eminent.
  • 11-EB-ALD-059 | Denise Smith Cassandra | Goodrum Burton | 400 pm 12/15/10
  • 11-EB-ALD-060 | Vinona Summers |  Bobby Joe Johnson | Recommendation pending
  • 11-EB-ALD-067 | Vinona Summers | Sekum Walker | 400 pm 12/16/10
  • 11-EB-ALD-068 | Denise Smith | Burundi Davis | 12:00 pm 12/20/10
  • 11-EB-ALD-069 | Denise Smith | Brian E. Sleet | 12:00 pm 12/17/10
  • 11-EB-ALD-298 | Delton J. Pierce | Burundi Davis | 12:00 pm 12/20/10
  • 11-EB-ALD-299 | Delton Pierce | Sekum Walker | Recommendation pending
  • 11-EB-ALD-303 | Delton J. Pierce | Cassandra Goodrum-Burton | Recommendation Pending
  • 11-EB-ALD-307 | Delton Pierce | Bobby Joe Johnson | Recommendation pending
Those cases that are dated will take place at the Conference Room on the Lower Level 69 E. Washington Blvd in the building where the Chicago Board of Elections is located. It's right across the street from Daley Plaze.

I would like to know more about the "recommendation pending" I wonder what that means. Although for other Aldermanic candidates around the city decisions are pending. So what's the recommendation. No candidate in the 6th ward has defaulted either (whatever that means :P)

Does anyone know anything out there?

Monday, December 13, 2010

The myths of ShoreBank’s failure

Curtis Black:
The conservative contention that ShoreBank was politically favored, with connections to Presidents Clinton and Obama among others, might have been rendered moot when the FDIC closed the bank in August.  But Fernholz notes “a new conservative conspiracy theory” – “regulators were letting the FDIC’s insurance fund absorb losses so that the social experiment could start anew.”

In fact the consoritum of investors who formed Urban Partnership Bank was tagged to purchase the bank’s assets only after hundreds of banks passed on the same opportunity.  And the new operation will share ShoreBank’s losses with the FDIC, which would have been on the hook for the entire bill otherwise.

Now “ShoreBank’s experience is being taken as a call to end government support for community lenders, as though encouraging credit access in underserved communities is the moral equivalent of bailing out Wall Street’s megabanks,” says Fernholz.  (This echoes the contention that the Community Reinvestment Act caused the crash by requiring investment in low-income communities; but the bulk of subprime loans came from unregulated mortgage companies and investment banks, and their securitization was a project of the higest rollers.)

Fernholz argues instead that ShoreBank’s experience is emblematic of the challenges facing small banks.  And he cites bankers who say “ShoreBank’s failure was less because of its mission and more because of its busienss practices” – it “tried to accomplish too much, too fast.”
Read the whole thing.

BTW, I noticed that the Chatham facility of the new Urban Partnership Bank was finally adorned with the name of the new entity instead of ShoreBank at least a week ago.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Should the city council be reduced in size?

Consider this a bit of an open blog open to many different ranges of opinion on this. I can understand the more fiscal angle to this as many believe that Aldermen get a lot of money in terms of salary (especially if this elected office is considered a part-time job), also they get money to hire staff in addition to an allowance to run their offices. Also consider this in terms of other major cities in this nation courtesy of the Better Government Association (BGA):
According to the US Census Bureau, Chicago’s population reached 2.8 million in 2009. The City is broken down into 50 districts, or wards, each with its own alderman to represent it in City Council. That gives each alderman roughly 57,000 constituents to represent.

In contrast, New York City has 51 City Council members, and each of those represent over 164,000 constituents. Los Angeles City Council members are only 15 in number, representing over 250,000 constituents each.
Below the remainder of this quote is a chart showing how many constituents city council members in other cities size up. Only Philadelphia comes close with 17 members of the city council representing 91,017 constituents. Of course it should be noted that 10 are elected by district and the other 7 are elected by the city at-large.

BGA further discusses potential savings in cutting the Chicago City Council in half:
If Chicago reduced the city council’s size in half, from 50 to 25, there would be savings for the city. The city would save $2.7 million in alderman salaries on top of another $4.4 million that would be saved by eliminating the salaries of the three staffers per alderman.

Nonetheless, a reduction in the number of wards would not necessarily lead to the elimination of all ward staff because each ward office would have to double the number of constituents it serves.

But there can certainly be some reduction in duplicative roles when Aldermen staffs are combined.
Currently, a ward superintendent who receives an average of $90,000 a year runs each ward.  They manage garbage collection, snow removal, and the blue cart recycling program within their wards, and only within their wards.  Even if it would make more sense for a garbage truck to continue its pick up down, say, a one way street, ward boundaries—not common sense or efficiency—dictate the route.
That last paragraph makes sense to me. Should ward boundaries determine whether or not a garbage pick up crew should continue their route? Could one make a case for more efficient garbage pick-up?

Also Greg Hinz at Crain's took up this issue speaking with attorney Rafael Vargas,Aldermanic candidate in the 43rd Ward, who argues in favor of cutting Chicago's city council:
Just because Chicago has had 50 council members "for as long as any of us can remember" is no reason to keep that system, he added. "With a $700-million (budget) deficit, we no longer can afford not to engage in honest dialogue about restructuring."

In an e-mail, Mr. Vargas, a civil rights attorney in his day job, didn't answer the question about whether the number should be cut and, if so, by how much. He agreed that reducing the number could make it more difficult for average folks to reach aldermen who now represent only about 58,000 constituents.
Either way, "50 is kind of an arbitrary number," Mr. Vargas said. "No one has been able to give me an answer as to 'why 50?' "
There are a couple of comments in that piece that are worth noting:
In that same vein, Cook County has 17 commissioners who run a county of 950 sq. miles & about 5 million people.

Los Angeles County has 5 commissioners for over 4,000 sq. miles & 10 million people!
Combine Chicago and Cook County into one government...
Any request for city services requires two calls - one to 311, and again to the alderman; and that is still no guarantee things will get done. I can't get a phantom bus stop removed 3 years after the Brown Line was reconstructed. They installed a weekend stop for shuttle busses at Kedzie and Wilson - three years after the project is done, signs still say "Bus Stop - No Parking." We could eliminate half the alderman if we made them function as a legislative body instead of micromanagers of city services.
Think outside the box!! Illinois has 102 counties because when they were created in the 19th century the goal was: every citizen should be able to travel from the county seat to their home in just one day--by horse back!!

It's not just Chicago that has too many government officials!! Do we need Townships? Who has ever looked at this issue?

Every major corporation has consolidated or merged since technology has made that feasilble. But, none of our over 3,000 governmental bodies in Illinois-- the most in the United States!!. WHY NOT??
There are some good points made by the BGA, and by Vargas in addition to those commenters. I don't necessarily have a problem with the fact that city has such a high number of Alderman with a low number of constituents. I could look at it in terms of being more responsive to citizen concerns in a particular area.

Of course that's not to say all of these Alderman are responsible to those constituents who are concerned abotu what's going on in their communities. We should address the salaries Aldermen makes in light of the current economy. We should also address any concerns as far as micromanaging city services in a particular ward.

What do you think of this issue?

Do you plan to shovel your sidewalks?

I got some work to do now, since I never shoveled up the recent snowfall and we're being pelted with snow today as well. I share this article from Active Transport Alliance. To shovel up the snow on your sidewalk makes you a good neighbor. So I will do my part to be a good neighbor.

Also flashback to 2007, a message from Craig Gernhardt, The Broken Heart of Roger's Park.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Aldermanic Objection list

Here are the the upcoming objections for 6th ward aldermanic candidates. It can be found here from the Chicago Board of Elections.

The list includes the following info:
  1. Case Number (Links do not include recapitulation sheets)
  2. Objector(s)
  3. Candidate
  4. Office
  5. Ward/City
  6. Hearing Time
  7. Location
  8. Hearing Officer

11-EB-ALD-059 Denise Smith Cassandra

Goodrum Burton

Alderman 6th Ward 400 pm


Building’s Lower

Level Conf. Room

Frank A. Tedesso


11-EB-ALD-060 Vinona Summers Bobby Joe Johnson Alderman 6th Ward 500 pm


Building’s Lower

Level Conf. Room

Frank A. Tedesso


11-EB-ALD-067 Vinona Summers Sekum Walker Alderman 6th Ward 400 pm


Building’s Lower

Level Conf. Room

Frank A. Tedesso


11-EB-ALD-068 Denise Smith Burundi Davis Alderman 6th Ward 400 pm


Building’s Lower

Level Conf. Room

Frank A. Tedesso

11-EB-ALD-069 Denise Smith Brian E. Sleet Alderman 6th Ward 200 pm


Building’s Lower

Level Conf. Room

Frank A. Tedesso

Friday, December 10, 2010

Did you know there's a potential landmark in our community

Chatham Center at 79th and Cottage Grove
Chatham Center pictured above you might have seen a couple of posts on this building during the time this blog has been publishing. This Archived News post from June 2009 takes an old news article about its re-opening back in 1986. You may have also seen a post that mentioned this building in a scan from the book Hands on Chicago.

Thanks to Lee Bey he alerts us to "an overlooked but dazzling collection of terra cotta-clad buildings on and around 79th & Cottage Grove and 75th & Cottage Grove." He provides us with a document from the City of Chicago on the Chatham Greater Grand Crossing Commercial District. The pic of the Chatham Center comes from that document which is provided here on the blog near the end of this post.

New rail, bus schedules go into effect next week

News from the CTA Tattler and at that some of these routes are those that run through the 6th Ward.
  • 3 King Drive
  • 4 Cottage Grove
  • 34 South Michigan 
  • 67 67th/69th/71st
  • 79 79th 
  • 87 87th  
  • 95E 93rd/95th
  • 103 West 103rd
  • 111 Pullman/111th/115th 
  • 119 Michigan/119th  
You can find more information about these schedule changes at the CTA's website!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Update on the Nov. 30th Abbott Park meeting

Just provided to the blog by Roseland Heights Parks and Recreation Committee Chairman C. Tucker:
The Chicago Park District has plans to renovate the track behind Harlan High School by replacing the center area grass with artificial turf.

There was an Abbott Park Artificial Turf Meeting on Nov. 30 at 6:00pm in Abbott Park.

Community residents, RHCA Parks Committee members, Abbott Park Advisory Council members, Harlan's Principle Evens, Alderman Lyle, 6th ward candidate Sawyer & campaign workers met with spoke person (Mr. Lang...I think) about The Chicago Park District plans to renovate the track behind Harlan High School.

NO CPD officials were there.

Here is what we found out:

1. According to the spoke person who headed the hearing on artificial grass, the Council and residents need to say Yes to what is being proposed – the speaker said if we say no the artificial grass will not be used.

2. There is NO public money being used for this project! It is all being done with private money, and we will NOT be told from where the money came!

3. There are 10 parks being considered for the project. We are the 4th presentation and one park has already said "Hell no".

4. Along with the plan for an artificial turf field bleachers and lights may also be requested. The field will be maintained with private money from these unknown companies also.

Well I must say community members did a great job of asking the right questioins.. They wanted to know will CPD make any other improvements to the park? They also talked about the need for a complete study (undertaken) by the City or CPD to evaluate the negative impact this will have on the neighborhood.

Residents felt, there were "negative impacts" to plans for track. Mainly, more organized sports events planned for area would influence how and who would be using the park.

The plans to have more sporting events permits at Abbott Park would disturb the neighborhood with
increased noise, traffic and parking issues.

The heightened use of the track would have a detrimental effect upon the Park and the neighborhood where the park is located in terms of extended hours, of noise, dedicated use, traffic, and more trespassing on private property.
*Most of all the Residents felt in a park that is not maintained and has many unresolved problems already the development of new activities for the track would only add to the problems the Chicago Park Distict has not addressed and would be the end of this community as we know it.

No vote was taken. Synthetic turf was not the issue it was what came with it and CPD's inability to maintain Abbott Park. Three Advisory Council members committed to plan, but not one community resident would commit!

Note: Candidate Sawyer discussed some negative environmental impacts and requirements of significant capital investment for maintenance costs of synthetic turf; it is being said now (by spoke person) that private funds will do this) He also had some very good questions about in-depth, independent analysis that would examine the financial and environmental costs of natural vs. synthetic turf, as well as the implications for usage, maintenance, health and safety.

We need to hear from representatives from the Parks District since no information was given to us on this.
Finally, the community needs more research on synthetic turf and plans for track to assess better and to aid the current community input processes.

C. Tucker, Chairman for RHCA Parks Committee
As for the 98th & Michigan which almost two decades ago used to be a playlot, C. Tucker also recently posted this comment in that two-year-old post about the former playlot:
The RHCA Parks Committee would also like to know what CPD plans are for this area. They met with Park Supervisor Johnson and South Area Manager Hopkins to disscus 2009 requests.

1.A Covenant: binding agreement that 98th Street Park will not be sold, *Note: The area West of playlot use to be park land. The land on which Harlan's parking lot is located was sold by CPD to CPS in 1961!

2.Swing gate for 98th Street park opening along with Bollards or iron fence positioned along areas of 96th Michigan & 98th & State to stop driving and parking on grass in park.

3. A Abbott Park sign with rules at Michigan & 98th Street.Records show this is Abbott Park not just a playlot.

4.10:00 pm closing signs posted.Residents can verify latenight "grown folk hanging and getting drunk" in the park.
These concerns are not just RHCA committee concerns But community concerns. Violations of rules and illegal activities should be reported. Disruptive non-permit groups on school grounds & park, soliciting on 95th Street and consuming of alcoholic beverages cannot be curbed or stopped by one or two people! The Community NEEDS your help. Send an email, write a letter, Call CPD for rule violations and Police for illegal activities.
At the very least the loitering in this neglected part of the Abbott Park lot is verifiable as people have been know to either sleep on the benchs or sit in that former playlot and drink.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Roderick Sawyer on PCC Community Network Forum

In this video Sawyer, candidate for 6th Ward Alderman in 2011, is talking more about issues affecting the whole city. He does talk a little about the religious institutions in our ward. In addition he talks about serving with the Chatham/Avalon Park Community Council, Park Manor Neighbors, and the LSC at McDade Classical School. Other than that not enough quotes on what is going on in our neighborhoods. Although I'm sure many people appreciate his thoughts on the issues facing the city as a whole.

Petition challenge hearings today

Courtesy of Concerned Citizens of Chatham. What you see listed area the case numbers, the objector, and the candidate. Below those are the hearing time and the reason for the objection.

11-EB-ALD 303 Delton Pierce Cassandra Goodrum Burton
Hearing Time 12/6/2010 11:00am - Discrepant Signatures
    11-EB-ALD 307 Delton Pierce Bobby Joe Johnson
    Hearing Time 12/6/2010 11:30am - Discrepant Signatures

    11-EB-ALD 299 Delton Pierce Sekum Walker
    Hearing Time- 12/6/2010 12:00pm - Voter Registration address does not match petition address

    11-EB-ALD 068 Delton Pierce Burundi Davis
    Hearing Time-12/6/2010 12:30pm- Delinquent Parking Fines

    11-EB_ALD 309 Delton Pierce Brian E. Sleet
    Hearing Time-12/6/2010 1:45pm- Discrepant Signatures

    When there are rulings, be sure to check back here. And if there are future hearings we will inform you here as well.

    You can check out this schedule courtesy of the Chicago Board of Elections. You can also check out this document from the Board of Elections with regards to petition objections.

    Sunday, December 5, 2010

    CTA Bus Tracker in School - Nov. 2010

    I posted this video on the FB page and mentioned in passing in a post Saturday night. This video not only shows how Harlan Community Academy utilize CTA Bus Tracker for the benefit of their students. There are quite a few shots of the outside community as well of course with shots of arriving and departing CTA

    Also this is just an excuse to post links to a pair of related posts about a 2001 article from Catalyst: "From excellence to exodus, Harlan strives for rebirth". Links posted below are crossposts from my other blog:

    From excellence to exodus, Harlan strives for rebirth Part 1
    From excellence to exodus, Harlan strives for rebirth Part 2 

    BTW, part two was noticed by YoChicago on their Weekend feed where they share interesting articles from the bloggosphere and the media.

    Saturday, December 4, 2010

    From excellence to exodus, Harlan strives for rebirth Part 2

    I had posted part one to this back in September, so expect me to bump that post up in case you have yet to see it. I figured this was an appropriate time since this morning I saw that Harlan was featured in an episode of Connections, a TV program that talks about what goes on at CTA. Basically it was about Harlan utilizing CTA Bus Tracker for the benefit of their students. I should post it alone as it provides shots of what many who live along South Michigan Avenue are very familiar with especially when school is in session and when school is out for the day. In any event enjoy the rest of this article. It was originally posted at It's My Mind last year as well.

    So Part 2 is supposed to be about leadership. I mentioned that one of my classmates had his two cents about our principal during our time there. Of course let me preferace that by saying he doesn't blame her for everything and nor would I for that matter. Although in that position well the turnaround either didn't take or she was in over her head.

    So we take you back to December 2001 when that Catalyst article was written and the excerpts will focus on the school's leadership:
    Achievement continued to decline, the building to decay. Harlan’s principals may have felt too overwhelmed to fight for the school or were simply resigned to their circumstances, Foster speculates. “Somebody should have been over at the board beating on the table, ‘We’re dying out here.’”

    By the mid-‘90s, only 7 percent of Harlan students scored at grade level in reading on the Tests of Achievement and Proficiency. Oehmen recalls that era as a low point for student morale. “Most had been sent here and didn’t want to be here. Somehow, Harlan had become the school of last resort.”

    In September 1996, the mayor’s new school team placed low-scoring schools like Harlan on academic probation. Schools were to select a university or non-profit organization from an approved list to help them improve instruction and school management.
    My algebra teacher went off on us one day. He was a temperamental guy, but he wasn't always. I think he may have brought it up. The school being on probation was likely the first time I had ever heard that. I don't know if we were supposed to know about that. If we were then just as easily the parents should have known about this. I would imagine that many would have shrugged it off, parents or students wouldn't have had any interest in either transferring or turning that school around or whatever.

    To the first paragraph of the excerpt, I wonder how overwhelming the problem at that time. Prior to the takeover of the schools by the City of Chicago, I remember there was always talk of budget deficits. Something amazingly enough we still don't hear much about. Even though before former CPS CEO Arne Duncan became the Secretary of Education he was talking about more money for schools.

    I remember this concept suffered a quiet death. We had small schools then the next year there were no more small schools...
    Harlan went through a revolving door of external partners. The school dropped the University of Illinois’ Small Schools Workshop, reasoning that dividing staff into smaller “schools-within-schools” was impractical given the small student body, an administrator recalls.
    There were other partners, but for some reason these partners didn't fit very well with the school. The article doesn't explain but all this switching was taking its toll on the school's faculty:
    “Each time, it’s all new paperwork, all new routines,” one veteran teacher says of the constant switching. “You learn to use new materials and next year, start all over again.”

    Teachers say they were inundated with paperwork. Under probation, staff are required to document their efforts to improve achievement, such as contacting parents and planning curriculum.

    “Each year it became more and more insane,” one teacher recalls. “There were 1,000 things to do.” Between the spring of 1997 and the spring of 1999, Harlan had the fourth highest teacher-turnover rate of any high school in the district, according to data provided by the Consortium on Chicago School Research. Over 20 teachers left.

    “It got to the point of ‘Why are we doing this?’” another teacher explains. “We get paid the same as people who don’t have to put up with this.”
    This is when I found out that my classmate was telling the truth about our former principal. Not that I didn't believe him but this next excerpt brought what he said home:
    Some describe their principal at the time, Barbara Edwards, as likable but ineffective. She failed to clamp down on teachers who were repeatedly late to work or neglected paperwork, one veteran recalls.

    The school’s test scores remained stagnant. In the spring of 2000, the board ousted Edwards, and scrambled to find Harlan a new leader.
    Then it came time to find a new Principal for Harlan, the one selected used to be a principal at a grammar school. The students weren't very happy:
    Students were less receptive. Grissett introduced herself at an assembly and laid down some new rules. “Everyone booed,” recalls Anthony Ellis, a junior. “We liked our old principal—she let us do whatever we wanted.”

    Several honors students say they viewed arriving at class on time as optional and, the day before vacations, routinely cut out after 3rd period— right in front of the security guards. “National ditch day,” they called it.
    You know, it wasn't until senior year when I started cutting. Of course it was only on days before vacations or when I knew there was no class. Perhaps there was no excuse for doing it, but then there was a reason why students ditched. Perhaps student morale was low as well as the staff no one wanted to do anything.

    But with a new regime things have changed, it's a wonder what leadership would do!
    Now, with consequences like Saturday detention, tardies are down 50 percent, one girl estimates. The same security guards are more alert, too, the kids say. “They’re going to chase you,” another girl reports.
    Since 1996, the School Board has sunk billions into school renovation and construction, and Grissett got Harlan its share.

    “She wrote letters, she called people. ‘How can we not have basic things?’ She just stayed on top of it,” says Associate Principal Gertrude Hill, who is Grissett’s second-in-command.

    Foster observes that in this system, principals must squeak to get grease. “She squeaked loud and hard down at central office about her needs.”
    Joyce Woldemariam, who has a master’s degree in mathematics, decided to switch schools this year. She says she chose Harlan for its small size and because it was her first interview. She reports she has a cabinet full of supplies and easy access to administrators. “They tend to ask a lot—what do you need? And I like that.”
    You may want to know where Harlan is today. Well they have a new principal and are poised for new success in the future. They have an academic center (AC), if I recall before I went to Harlan I had this 8th teacher who claimed that he opposed sending 7th & 8th graders to Harlan. Although since ACs are touted as advanced for 7th & 8th graders it might be one way of changing the student culture of a school. I think my former 8th Grade teacher lost that battle but I can't tell you how he viewed this development.

    [Fall 2009] a magnet program in engineering is starting up there. If only there was ROTC when I was there, because I would have been involved, I was already interested in the military at that time. It's possible that there was a lot Harlan missed out on back then that now today's students will take advantage of.

    You know if Harlan's reputation was for violence or lack of academic rigor, it takes time to change that reputation. I hope that Harlan can become as well known as Whitney Young for it's reputation as a school that can send students to the top schools in the nation. I want to see that happen. It doesn't have to be a selective enrollment/magnet high school neither.

    From excellence to exodus, Harlan strives for rebirth Part 1

    This post was actually posted at my blog It's My Mind on July 5, 2009. Since I've had to bump up a post from last month twice because people were continuing to comment in that thread, I decided this post was appropriate. Especially since school starts at Harlan today! The article excerpted here is from December of 2001. Also note this article was linked in a post here once before. I think you would like that post! :)

    Yesterday, I decided to peruse the home page of my high school alma mater, Harlan Community Academy. For the most part I keep it vague about where I went to school perhaps save for one time. I blogged a story in 2005 about a shooting that took place within the school. It caused me to post a couple of blogs at The Sixth Ward about Harlan as they have a NING group, a blog, and even a Twitter account.

    Awesome news I thought, as I found those thru their compilation of links, more specifically their "in the news" links, an article from the Dec. 2001 issue of Catalyst Chicago. That website's beat is Chicago's public schools.

    Anyway this article, gives a good time line of events which brings you to roughly the time I started to attend the school. First in excerpting this article let's look at some background these numbers are from 2001:
    Harlan High School stands on a tree-lined street across from a row of tidy bungalows in Roseland. With its clean brick walls and park-side location, it hardly fits the image of an urban school of last resort.

    Yet that’s what it has become. Last year, Harlan lost 77 percent of Chicago public high school students in its attendance area—a total of 1,529—to other Chicago public high schools. That’s the highest “defection rate” in the city.

    An 8th-grader at a nearby elementary school puts it bluntly: “Most people who come out of here, if they don’t make the score, they go to Harlan,” she says, meaning grade-level scores on standardized tests. “If they made the score, they go to CVS or Simeon or Hyde Park—any other high school.”
    Then what happened that took Harlan from a premier school with an incredible faculty to one which may be considered a school of last resort?
    Harlan’s decline was gradual and, by most accounts, began in the mid-1970s. Middle-class Roseland was growing poorer, and the once integrated neighborhood was rapidly losing white residents. Still, the school attracted its share of good students, veteran teachers recall.

    At the time, the alternatives were several vocational schools and two elite technical schools. “Permissive transfers” also allowed students to attend schools where they would improve racial balance. For the most part, though, Chicago public high school students of the ‘70s stayed in their own neighborhoods.

    Like many South Side high schools, Harlan was desperately overcrowded. The building was designed to house about 1,300 but enrolled some 3,500 students. Twenty-six mobile units stood out back, teachers recall.

    The first blow to Harlan’s reputation came disguised as a blessing. To relieve overcrowding, the district opened two new high schools on the Far South Side, Corliss in 1974 and Julian in 1975. Harlan students were given the option of attending either. They left in droves.
    Now we go back to perhaps how Harlan became the school to go to in the first place and then when Corliss and Julian opened, they were new and people wanted to be a part of those schools. Although these days Corliss or even Julian probably aren't considered premier schools themselves. Then again this might have something to do with the sudden exodus of bright students from Harlan in the mid 1970s:
    Albert Foster, the district’s recently retired director of school intervention, attended Harlan in its glory days (Class of 1962). A March 1999 visit to the school left him deeply discouraged. For one, the building was in terrible disrepair: missing hall tiles, beat-up desks, plexiglass windows that had grown opaque, broken heating ducts that left classrooms cold.
    Former Harlan teacher and school alum Janice Ollarvia, now principal of Fenger High School, thinks students were attracted by superior facilities at the new schools. “Harlan was built when they were tossing schools up, and the quality of the construction wasn’t that good,” she explains. “It soon started to show.”
    If you thought "community academy" would you think private school? In fact when I talk about where I went to school that's exactly the response I get, but the reality is:
    Magnet schools came next. Whitney Young opened in 1975, became a selective magnet school in 1980 and drew top students from across the city. Then in the early 1980s, the district launched magnet programs to attract students of different races to segregated high schools. Harlan’s neighboring high schools got programs in computer science or communications or literature and history, but Harlan was designated a “community academy” that would stress basic skills.

    As fewer top students opted for Harlan during the ‘80s, the school’s Advanced Placement offerings in English, math, history, biology and chemistry dwindled to none, [computer teacher Jack] Oehmen recalls.
    Would low-achievers make for students who might do sports teams?
    Sports teams suffered, too. “You might think: Give me a school of low-achievers, and I’ll have a heck of a sports team,” Foster remarks. “No you won’t. Those kids don’t go out for sports … don’t go out for clubs. Then your school doesn’t have much in offerings.”

    You know I thought about a classmate's comments on our former principal. The article touched upon this in fact an update on the fate of our former principal, but this article is starting to get long winded so therefore I shall continue this. Don't let me forget now!

    We might look at more on the leadership at the school because perhaps in our day it sure needed it. The next question is what's happening at the school now. I explore that more tomorrow!

    The Harlan logo was lifted directly from the Harlan website.

    Friday, December 3, 2010

    VIDEO: Richard Wooten on PCC Community Network Forum

    Watch live streaming video from pccnet at

    This PCC Community Newtork Forum video via Concerned Citizens of Chatham is of 6th Ward Aldermanic candidate Richard Wooten who talks a lot about his background as not only a Chicago Police Officer, but as a minister as well. He makes quite a few comments about what he sees in our community.

    Some quotes of note:

    "If we continue to be afraid of our young people, they will never learn how to be responsible or how to be respectful"

    "The incumbent has been in office for a little over 10 years. And in 10 years our community has remained pretty much the same. And we understand that we need to grow as a community. We're not Lincoln Park, OK, but we should have the same resources as Lincoln Park. We should be able to function the same as Lincoln Park."

    "We have a park in our community, Abbott Park, that been deteriorated. Bottomed out almost, you know, but we don't have the resources that have been generated or redirected to that park."

    "We're (Chicago Police) one of the only [police departments] in the United States that still has to respond to every call for service. Someone calls and says there's a possum in my backyard, guess what? The police has to go, you know. Why not divert these calls to other departments like animal control?"

    "The 6th ward is a very huge ward. It runs from Englewood to Roseland Heights. One person can not run this ward. This is where the power of the people comes in."

    What do you think of Wooten's comments in this almost half hour interview?

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    Community Policing Meeting Frequency Cut

    Chicago News Coop:
    The frequency of beat community meetings—a staple of Chicago’s community policing program since it was launched in 1993 to improve communication between police and residents—will be cut in many areas of the city from every month to every other month starting the first of the year, Ron Holt, the director of the CAPS program, told the Chicago News Cooperative Tuesday.

    Holt said most of the city’s police districts simply don’t have enough officers available to hold monthly meetings in each of their beats. The scheduling will vary by district depending on available staffing, he said. Holt said he was in a meeting and would provide more information later but did not respond to follow-up calls.

    City budget constraints have limited police hiring in recent years, leading to a major reduction in the number of officers and a fierce political debate about how they should be deployed. To help cope with the drop, Holt and Mayor Richard M. Daley announced in September that most of the roughly 300 officers assigned to the CAPS program would be redeployed to street duty. They promised that the CAPS program would remain intact and the officers would be replaced by civilians.
    Read the whole thing!

    Also has anyone been involved with CAPS programs in most of our local police districts? Let us know your experiences.

    Spoke too soon on petition challenges...

    To 6th Ward Aldermanic challengers. Worlee had posted over at Concerned Citizens of Chatham the names of the challengers to the petitions of five Aldermanic candidates. Apparently the Chicago Board of Elections updated their master list not long after I posted the most recent blog article late last night.

    I would like to have this information on our 2011 page, however, here are those 6th Ward candidates who have objections to their petitions. Listed below are case numbers, objector, and the candidate.
    • 11-EB-ALD 059 | Denise Smith | Cassandra Goodrum Burton
    • 11-EB-ALD 303 | Delton Pierce | Cassandra Goodrum Burton
    • 11-EB-ALD 060 | Vinona Summers | Bobby Joe Johnson
    • 11-EB-ALD 307 | Delton Pierce | Bobby Joe Johnson
    •  11-EB-ALD 067 | Vinona Summers | Sekum Walker
    •  11-EB-ALD 299 | Delton Pierce | Sekum Walker
    •  11-EB-ALD 068 | Denise Smith | Burundi Davis
    •  11-EB-ALD 068 | Delton Pierce | Burundi Davis
    • 11-EB-ALD 069 | Denise Smith | Brian E. Sleet
    • 11-EB_ALD 309 | Delton Pierce | Brian E. Sleet
    The hearings on these objections are to start on December 6th.
    Worlee further opines:
    I think its self explanatory who is filing the objections and this is where the lack of money and volunteers is becoming apparent. If all objection are granted this will bring this to a 3 person race with the possibility of candidates officially withdrawing before the withdrawal date .
    Stay tuned for more info.