Friday, May 31, 2013

WBEZ: As South Side church turned black, one white congregant stayed in pews

[AUDIO] You've probably heard about Crerar Presbyterian Church from time to time here on this blog. Today we hear about an interesting story and it tells the story of Chatham and this church of the last 50 years. And in this story we hear about one final remant of the time when the Chatham neighborhood was mostly white. You can click this link to read or listen to the audio embedded above.

Mariano's, Wal-Mart push into Bronzeville

I had found this article from Chicago Real Estate Daily that shows two grocers looking for property in Bronzeville namely on the site of former CHA housing projects. Within the past five or so years of the publication of this blog we did two posts about Roundy's intending to build a store on the site of the former housing projects along State Street. You check them out below:
Now Roundy's plans to bring a Mariano's to that historic south side neighborhood formerly known as "the Black Metropolis" back in it's heyday which was the early to mid 20th century. Today it's an emerging neighborhood that's sure bet with IIT and close proximity to downtown Chicago.

It should be noted as well that Mariano's has been expanding in Chicago and there is already one open in downtown Chicago at Monroe/Halsted. Another is currently being built in the South Loop neighborhood located at 16th/Clark Streets. Mariano's is aiming for a spot at Pershing Rd. (or 39th Street) & State Street which was once the site of the former Ida B. Wells Homes and the development where the store is located is to be called "Oakwood Shores".

Also the Wal-Mart that's coming to Bronzeville is expected to be located at Pershing Rd (or again 39th Street) and King Drive which is also a site of another former housing project long since razed. It's expected to be a "supercenter" such as the one being built near 111th & Bishop Ford Expressway in Pullman. It'll be just like the stores on 83rd and the one in Austin. The article also reported that in 2012, Wal-Mart had already signed a 20 year lease to anchor a mixed use project at 47th/Cottage Grove with one of their small store formats.

What do you think of these developments?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Capitol Fax: Rush says Kirk idea is “upper-middle-class, elitist white boy solution”

Sen. Mark Kirk and his colleague Sen. Dick Durbin had met with the nominee US Attorney for the Northern District Zachary Fardon to discuss not only his confirmation but also strategy to combat crime by urban street gangs. The Gangster Disciples were especially mentioned.

However, Congressman Bobby Rush responded by throwing around the race card. Some of his quote you see above in the title of this post here.

We're eager for a solution to the crime and violence by urban streetgangs. Was the Congressman's quote over the top? If it was does anyone wish more can be done by our political leaders on this issue?

Burris School of Politics is back in session...

Remember that back in January, West Chesterfield hosted a session for the Roland Burris School of Politics. It was something that caught my interest but sadly work got in the way although knowing about it in advance should've been the signal to request some days off. In any event for those of you like myself who missed out there are other sessions being schedule.

There's a recent article talking about Burris who until 2010 was a US Senator who succeeded President Obama in his US Senate seat - Burris has also been an Illinois state Comptroller and Attorney General - his School of Politics and his political career. The article courtesy of DNA Info:
He's been a trailblazer in Illinois politics. His tombstone, already in place and awaiting his arrival, even has "trailblazer" carved into it.

So, there should be plenty of interesting things for him to teach at his new Burris School of Politics, which he said is needed in the black community.

"There is a lack of knowledge in the black community about how local, state and federal governments were created and how they operate," said Burris, 75, a Chatham resident. "I tried staying retired, but I couldn't see myself sitting home all day doing nothing."

The one-week course, which launched in October, runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays at the Stewart Business Center, 400 W. 76th St.

The next scheduled class, which costs $50, runs from June 18-20, and reconvenes in September.
It's also cool that he's willing to do house calls especially if there are groups of 10 or more. Probably a valuable too for any neighborhood organization such as the West Chesterfield Community Assocation.

While I want to remain respectful of Burris legacy and this education service he seeks to provide for the community, the controversy over the US Senate seat that he was appointed to by one former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was addressed in this article. Blagojevich was eventually impeached and later sent to federal prison for attempting to sell the very Senate seat that Burris sat in for a little over a year. Also speaking of the tombstone, it received an honorable mention over at our local NBC affiliate's Ward Room blog.

How many of you would be willing to check out this course that former US Sen. Burris is offering?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Crain's: Business takes aim at city violence

Action on Cottage Grove last month from Crain's article
Here's the genesis of this:
On Jan. 4, moments before presiding over the graduation of 56 police recruits, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and an aide met in a small room at Navy Pier with three of corporate Chicago's biggest names: Allstate Corp. Chairman and CEO Tom Wilson, Loop Capital Markets LLC Chairman and CEO Jim Reynolds Jr. and mayoral adviser Michael Sacks, CEO of Grosvenor Capital Management LP.

The subject was the city's scandalous street violence. The horrifying murder of Hadiya Pendleton, the teen who performed at an inaugural event for President Barack Obama, would not happen for another three weeks, but a summer of escalating homicide numbers and high-profile incidents on Michigan Avenue had made the city's safety a national topic of concern.

Although it wouldn't be announced for another month, what emerged from that meeting was an unusual corporate effort to combat street violence. The mayor previously had worked with Messrs. Wilson and Reynolds on anti-violence initiatives and issues in the black community, and he asked them to lead a five-year, $50 million project—one of the largest public-private partnerships for at-risk youth in the nation—with the awkward title of “Get In Chicago.”

While no one argues with the goal of reducing violence, the name of the project isn't the only ungainly aspect of the effort. Basic questions remain: How will the organization be managed? Which social service groups will get funding and which will lose out? Is a new group really necessary? And what constitutes success?

The fundraising campaign has been a triumph, with the city announcing last week that the group already has commitments for $40.9 million, including $5 million each from Allstate, Exelon Corp. and Boeing Co. “I've never seen anything like this,” Mr. Reynolds says of the response from the business community. “We continue to get inquiries about it and people asking how they can get involved in ways beyond money.”
Well, the business community has to be as much a part of reducing the violence in this city as any other stakeholder. Safety has to be important especially when it comes to commerce. Ald. Sawyer was quoted in this piece as well:
Ald. Roderick Sawyer, whose 6th Ward encompasses some of the areas that will be targeted by the effort, praises the idea of big business funding to fight neighborhood ills. But he also questions how the participants were selected.

“To exclude me and others who were not approached is a disservice,” he says. “I can't tell people what to do with their money, but I think I could be a resource in a community where I've lived all my life. I think I know a little bit.”
Hmmmm, so there are questions about this initiative as you read in the excerpt. Apparently the usage and the consulting of this fund isn't at all very inclusive.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

When will they fix the slide at Ruggles Playground?

Location: Ruggles Elementary School, Chicago, IL 60619, USA

Tape only lasted a few days
The big red slide at the South Playground of Ruggles Elementary School has been broken since summer of last year -- at least 9 months!

Now that CPS has closed 50 schools, perhaps they could find the funds to repair the slide?

When I called 311 (again), I received the case number via text (from 311311). This number is  13-00586860.  Please call 311 and refer to that number, as well as calling Alderman Sawyer.

 The situation reminds me of the scene in the movie "The Campaign" with  and  , Unfortunately, I can't find a clip online that has a flashback to the characters, where a slide damaged almost as bad hurt Marty and inspired Cam to become a politician.   Let's hope the inspiring comes without injury to a child!
Mia shows the feelings of neighborhood kids in regards to the slide being damaged for at least 9 months

The tape was removed, but in worse shape and new graffiti

Sunday, May 26, 2013

VIDEO: The CTA Red Line Closure

[VIDEO] Guess who's back? Artistmac has a video about the Red Line South project that started last Sunday. He generally talks about the history of the many projects of the CTA L system where major repairs were necessary. I wonder how many of us thinks that the CTA engages in deferred maintenance on projects on this part of town. That's certainly what Artistmac thinks.

He would also state that on other lines which are considered very critical infrastructure on the northside and towards both airports they weren't shut down for one day although certain stretches were at various points in time. Check out the end of the video where he talked about the elevated structure over 18th Street where the Dan Ryan branch - which are currently used by the Midway Orange Line - connects so that trains could go onto the Loop L structure once had cracks in it. The cracks were only repaired when the Orange Line began service in 1993.

BTW, another issue he has. There is no bus service on 47th for the night owl customers. The buses that normally operate along the expressways the Wentworth & State buses stop operating after a certain time in addition to the 47th bus. He illustrations the point by driving along 47th Street from the Green Line L stop to the now closed station on the Red Line. He states that every stop on the Dan Ryan branch was covered except for 47th Street during the night owl period.

This is something I can related to because at time I may have to ride the train late at night from time to time. While thankfully my availability is where getting off work would still allow me to catch one of the express Dan Ryan Shuttles back home, I would be certainly up the creek if that timely service wasn't available. In fact,my concerned would be over how my longer it would be for me to commute back home from work late at night with hopes that it wouldn't take too long.

In any event, how has this project been for you? Any positive reports or anything you think the CTA has missed in it's planning since they announced this project last year?

ALSO, feel free to get into touch with CTA via social media as they can be reached via twitter @cta or the Red Line South Project twitter @redlinesouth. Also there is a FB page for CTA as well.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

What would you like to see happen around the Metra station on 95th/Cottage Grove?

This is more than appropriate given that now the Red Line is finally closed for repairs. One can only wonder how many more passengers this Metra Electric Station at 95th/Cottage Grove will get. Metra is already positioning themselves as an alternative to the alternatives provided by the CTA for those who are affected by the reconstruction of the Dan Ryan branch of the L.

If you regularly use this stop on the Metra Electric it's only a flag stop and a train will only stop there at designated times. The pictures below shows how busy this station is and it's safe to say not very. Alas what I neglected to depict were all the passengers who are boarding, getting off, or waiting for a bus. Sometimes it seems there are a lot of people who are here to wait for a bus whether they are going further east, south, west, or even north.

Of course this doesn't mean that this intersection doesn't deserve attention. Perhaps there should be more action on this corner than vacant buildings, vacant lot and a gas station. Let's also remember that there is a university nearby at Chicago State. This intersection could have more activity here.

The pic above is of a building that's adjacent to the entrance to the Metra station under the viaduct. Let's not forget that in winter 2012 this was the site of an armed robbery while some passengers were waiting for a train. If this building remains it would be a great idea if there was a way to allow for passengers to enter the station through this building instead of having to walk under this viaduct.
This is the northwest corner of 95th/Cottage and it contains a service station. It had been a vacant lot for many years and I'm not certain when this had been built but certainly it's progress. Also there is a food store inside in case you want grab a bite while you wait for a bus.

This is the northeast corner where a building that remains vacant is located. Surely a use could be found for this building especially for the commuters who utilize the bus stops at this intersection everyday. North of the building as you can see is a lot that remains vacant waiting for a developer to come up with a use for that property.

The photos below is from the 95th Metra platform. The first is looking towards the campus of Chicago State University and the other is looking towards the building at 95th Street.

In light of the robbery at that station last year there were many in the community who were seeking ways to make this area safer for commuters. The question here is what would you like to see happen here? Does this Metra station have the ability to generate more traffic to this area even after the reconstruction of the Dan Ryan branch is complete? Also could this station be an asset to the students at Chicago State University?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

School closings vote

Yesterday the Chicago Board of Education voted to close 49 schools down from the initial 53 to be closed. Here's a listing of schools that the board voted to close for next year. Is a school near you on that list?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Capitol Fax: Senators call for Hamos ouster

Our state Senator Donne Trotter has attached his name to a letter posted to the Capitol Fax blog that express the lack of confident in the leadership of  the state Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) Director Julie Hamos. His name is attached along with his colleague Sen. Martin Sandoval in speaking for the "unified sentiment of our respective caucuses". The respective caucuses being the Black and Latino Caucuses of the IL state Senate. The letter mainly cites the budget cutting that has claimed many healthcare and mental health services and their affect on the Black and Latino communities of this state.

Monday, May 20, 2013

How was your experience with the Red Line Reconstruction?

So how was your ride on the Red Line this morning (and/or this afternoon)?

Reader Melanie Payne shared with us (on our Facebook page) her experience this morning. (Included are our questions):

Melanie Payne It worked, i got to work 40 minutes early. As long as they keep the shuttles coming and the trains are running no more than 3 minutes apart then people should be good.
  • The Sixth Ward That's great to know. Can we post your comments on a blog post? Also -- my wife is concerned about safety at Garfield (as well as the potential chaos there). How was it this morning? And how does it work for the ride home? (Also, feel free to e-mail us or give us a link to any photo you would like us to use, if any. THANKS (jp)
  • Melanie Payne I have to get back to you for the ride home part. As far as chaos not going to say she is right or wrong but there was ALOT of security over there. Now maybe long term thinking she maybe correct. Im not one for being on that side town either. They have the red line running on the same track as the green line. So its the same type of redline people as before. The redline goes in the tunnel if you she/you need to get off downtown (like me) or even go up north. Sure you can use my quote. Now I might come back to you all a month later and say whether not its the same.
  • The Sixth Ward So you're saying you don't have to change at Roosevelt (where the Green Line and Red Line link up)? You can hop on at Garfield, and stay in your seat, until, say, Washington or even up to Howard? (jp)

    And if you come back with a very different opinion about the reconstruction, we will have no problem with that (well, we WILL have a problem, but no problem to post about it ). We wonder if the effort will be maintained, or like Wal-Mart, once the hype has died down, the quality sinks.

    Thanks so much -- and feel free to send anything (or even your very own guest post) to
  • Melanie Payne Yes at Garfield they have the Red/Howard and the green line running on the same track. So if you need to head underground and get off at LAKE or JACKSON you can stay seated.
  • Melanie Payne On the Red/Howard train
  • The Sixth Ward So far no big bens on King drive or Cottage Grove. As far as security, now that UC owns a building over there (Washington Park Arts Incubator), you have the transit detail and UC patrolling. wg

We will update this entry when Melanie reports back this evening!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Progress IL: Englewood Renters Left Without Electricity, Gas Due To Foreclosure: 'We Were Left In The Dark'

This is a very unfortunate story. Unless you follow real estate you may not realize that foreclosures is still affecting people almost five or so years after they really became headline news. We can talk about people who own homes that they couldn't afford, but let's bear in mind there are foreclosed properties involving renters. We take a look at the couple above Shantisha & Ezekiel Shaw whose family are exactly in that situation.
The Shaw’s landlord was foreclosed upon last year and Freedom Mortgage Corp. took over the deed for the building on December 14, as indicated by the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court.

But neither Shantisha, nor her husband, Ezekiel Shaw, said they were notified the building was being foreclosed upon. They said they were not given a 90-day notice to vacate, nor were they provided any instructions indicating where they should send their monthly $550 rent — which includes utilities — following the foreclosure.

The Shaws say they were not provided with any landlord or contact information pertaining to who would be responsible for maintaining the property after the foreclosure.

“We’ve been left in the dark, literally,” said Ezekiel, 45. “What are we supposed to do?”
In February the Shaws received an eviction notice from Pierce & Associates, a leading Chicago-based foreclosure law firm.

“Demand is hereby made upon you for immediate surrender of possession of the above premises,” the February 4 letter, identifying Pierce & Associates as attorneys for Freedom Mortgage, states.

“But we don’t have any money, I don’t know what they expect us to do,” said Shantisha.
I don't want to excerpt more from this article, but you should read the whole thing. We should bear in mind one thing when it comes to foreclosures. Banks do not want to be landlords, they have to maintain the properties they have to take.

I'm not sure of the entire situation involving the Shaws, but there's a problem if they're making this family leave their building because they don't want to be landlords and therefore responsible for maintaining this property. The Shaws had also reported that their utilities were shut off who knows if it's because the company that took over their property did it to make them move. Also recognize that if true shutting off utilities or other actions to make people leave a property is called "constructive eviction" and it's an illegal practice.

Anyway, I'm curious what everyone thinks of this story.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Black-owned banks faces challenges...

When you read this article you note this paragraph:
In the past few years, several Black-owned banks, including the $2 billion-asset ShoreBank, one of the most active lenders on Chicago’s South Side, Covenant Bank and Highland Community Bank have closed or been absorbed into another institution.
Covenant Bank has been absored into the New Orleans, LA based black-owned Liberty Bank earlier this year. However ShoreBank and it's successor Urban Partnership Bank weren't/aren't considered Black-owned. Highland Community Bank well they're not yet closed although I understand that they've been on the brink of closure for a while. In fact, Highland is being courted for purchase by an investment group and I meant to share this article from DNA Info earlier.

Now that we got those qualifiers out of the way, this article is more than appropriate since Chatham at least is home to two Black-owned financial institutions namely Seaway Bank which is headquartered in Chathan and Illinois Service Federal which is headquartered in Bronzeville. In mentioning Seaway here's another thing to note:
“It’s going to be nonbanking-related services that’s going to help them to survive,” he said, citing Chicago’s Seaway Bank & Trust Co., which provides currency exchange services at the airport.
Seaway Bank provides FOREIGN currency exchange services at both O'Hare & Midway airports. Makes sense right? If you're traveling to a foreign nation more than likely you would need to exchange American money for the money of the nations you're traveling to. Whereas a currency exchange, well many of us have different ideas of services offered.

Anyway, we see the history of Black banks their general mission and how they've had to adapt to many changes. Also what can Black banks do to continue to survive and whether or not the idea of a Black-owned bank is considered obsolete. I'm curious to know what you all think.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Sun-Times: Red Line rehab will affect 98,000 CPS students’ commute to school

Visit Red Line South for more info
This article sort of puts these proposed school closings into perspective although it doesn't mention that. The Red Line will be closed down from May to October and right now parents are concerned about how their children will be able to at the very least travel from school to home. I wonder if this article gives parents even little ease.
The CTA said 98,000 students at 370 CPS schools will be affected by the Red Line construction, including elementary and secondary schools, spokeswoman Tammy Chase said. Students from 12 Catholic schools also take the Red Line to and from school.

Outreach to students began in April, when an alernative service flier was sent out along with report cards, Chase said. And robocalls to homes of CPS students began May 1. Another round of robocalls will begin Friday.

Reader: Mayor Rahm's Chicago—in black and white

Ben Joravsky is looking at how Chicagoans view the job performance of Mayor Emanuel. This look is broken down according to race, ethnicity, or even class. How do you think the Mayor is doing as he's halfway through his term as Mayor of Chicago?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Did Liberation Christian Center Disrespect The Park Manor Community

Location: 7400 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60619, USA

Talking about religion or more specifically a church is consider taboo but in this case it's necessary. This past Monday evening I attended the Park Manor Neighbors Community Council (PMNCC) monthly meeting. There was a full agenda, but most of the 100+ attendees came out for one issue. Only through communication through PMNCC were they notified that an organization Unity Parenting and CounselingIMG_0051_2279 had approach the Alderman about signing off on a special use permit. The need for the permit was to establish a shelter for homeless teens. In most cases the PMNCC meeting attendees are even tempered but this subject angered the attendees. The shelter wanted to open inside what was once a small elementary school operated by St. Peter Lutheran Church. The building is being leased by a Liberation Christian Center.7400 s michigan The church is new to the community and little was known or communicated about the church to the community. As the representatives of Unity attempted to make their case, the temperature in the room was going to start to boil over and both representatives from Unity and attendees became upset. No answer that Unity gave was or would have persuaded the members of the 74th,73rd Wabash and Michigan block club members who were in attendance. The bottom line was and is that 7400 S Michigan is the wrong location and YES, this is definitely the wrong time. On May 19th, the Red Line train line will shut down for 6-9 months and limit transportation options including several bus lines to the community and require possible walking through the community to get to alternative routes. So to state that the shelter would have no impact on the community is a very shortsighted and somewhat delusional.  Per Unity, if someone is expelled for not following the rules they are not allowed to loiter around the building . This would lead the individuals to walk up to 75th street where there are stores and several nightclubs. 75th Street is the dividing line for the Chicago Police Department 3rd and 6th districts. Both districts already have their hands full and having homeless teens loitering is just a problem the y do not need. While it became very apparent that the community was not going to support the special use permit, what did become apparent the church and pastor attempted to pimp both groups. During the presentation, Unity stated the pastor Bishop James E. Dukes offered the space to them, and never mentioned he had any conversations with the community. The church and pastor certainly didn't make any friends by blowing off this meeting or ever coming out to introduce themselves to the community. Sources characterize the pastor as "Shady". Per Unity representatives, the pastor was out of town. I and many others question the timing of this proposal. In a time when our city and state government are suppose to be broke, where is the money coming from to pay for this shelter? In a time when city services such as Mental health facilities that serve this community are being eliminated or consolidated to other areas why is there such an urgency to open this facility? Lastly, why did this group not notify any of the other social service agencies that service the community of their intentions to open this facility? So the bottom line is the Liberation Church feels that they can do what they want and not answer to anyone, such as engage in construction work without obtaining permits. So is this what churches are suppose to do? Is this what men of god suppose to do? So it will be interesting to see if the pastor steps up and apologizes to the community and work with community.

Ward Room: Are Casinos "City Ruiners"?

This issue has come up in the city from time to time. It's often viewed as a way to gain more revenue for the city especially for the public schools. This opinion from Ward Room argues that a casino could be a "city ruiner" and cites an urbanist who's fighting a casino in the other second city: Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

To be sure, the only reason I would support a casino is if it went to a struggling city neighborhood so they could reap any potential benefits although current proposals I've seen seeks a casino in downtown Chicago. Certainly it's understandable to keep tax dollars in the city as residents who do visit the casinos are likely to go to Indiana or nearby cities such as Aurora or Joliet.

All the same I'm curious how people would view a Chicago casino. Do you think a casino in this city could be a "ruiner"?

DNAinfo: Izola's Replaced by New Soul Food Restaurant

Location: 522 East 79th Street, Chicago, IL 60619, USA
Izola's as seen in April 2011
It appears the space formerly occupied by Izola's has a new tenant that recognizes the legacy of the previous establishment:
Brothers Anthony and Michael Cherry opened a soul food restaurant Saturday in the former home of the legendary Izola's.

Occupying 20,000 square feet at 522 E. 79th St. is Luversia's, a family restaurant that Anthony Cherry said was named after his late mother, Luversia Faye-Cherry, who died in 2008.

"She was a good person who taught us a lot about life," recalled Anthony Cherry, who grew up in Englewood but now lives in South Shore. "Five years from now I want to expand the restaurant to have a location on the West Side, North Side and downtown. I know those are ambitious goals, but I am an ambitious person."

Izola's, named after Izola White, opened in 1940 and closed in 2011. Luversia's has continued in part to use the former restaurant's identity by offering an "Izola's Ole-Skool Burger" for $6.99.
BTW, let's not forget not long after announcing for Mayor in 2010 Rahm Emanuel paid a visit to Izola's.

Who plans to pay a visit in the near future? And who has paid a visit and what are your thoughts on your experience there?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Are you planning your alternatives to the Red Line starting May 19th?

If you check out the Red Line South project website, you will see that there will be "ambassadors" who will be at the affected locations through May 16th. You may want to talk to them about all the details regarding the alternatives as the Dan Ryan line is shut down for five months. As a matter of fact on May 1, you may have had the chance to talk to an ambassador at 95th Street who just so happens to be Forrest Claypool President of the CTA which is what you see in the photo below.
Courtesy of @RedLineSouth
Anyway, in spite of that brief intro, we're here to discuss this recent article from the Sun-Times about how Red Line riders are planning to cope with this project. Some apparently are still unaware of the alternatives, discounts, and service levels that will be provided by CTA during the next 5 months. Also add to that the shuttles that will be used in lieu of the trains are free!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Crain's: Why Sears sees salvation in servers

Location: 1134 East 79th Street, Chicago, IL 60619, USA
Photo by ZOL87
 It seems Sears has an idea for the store that they plan to close on 79th Street:
Parent Sears Holdings Corp. has formed a subsidiary, Ubiquity Critical Environments LLC, tasked with converting some of the more than 2,500 Sears and Kmart properties to data storage facilities with servers, chillers and backup generators. It also plans to top all of its buildings with telecommunications towers that would serve a wide range of needs, including, ironically, those of the e-commerce rivals that Sears is struggling to match.

First up: a Sears store along the Chicago Skyway that will close in July.
If you'd like to read the whole article, there may be registration required. Hopefully there will still be some room for another business or businesses to move in. We recently got an email about another business who could utilize this building if they were interesting in expansion: Mariano's.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sears on 79th is now closing. What would YOU like to see happen here?

Photo by ZOL87
Recently we learned on Lee Bey's blog that the Sears store located @ 1134 E. 79th Street is closing. That's not the only store also the store located at 62nd/Western and the store at River Oaks Mall will also close. For the purposes of this post we will focus on the stores on Western and 79th Street.

For a while I had been thinking about writing a post about vacant lots and buildings that should be developed and what should be placed there. I figure this would be a good place to start let's find a use for these soon to be vacant stores on both 79th & 62nd/Western.

My first idea for both stores is this. Perhaps we could fit a Whole Foods Market in both of those stores. In fact 62nd/Western would be more likely than 79th street because a Whole Foods is already expected to be built in Hyde Park and I'm uncertain how much expansion they're going to do on this part of town. But 62nd/Western would be a good location on the Southwest part of town.

Also by possibly Worlee on our FB page it was suggested that the 79th Street Sears building could be used as a shopping center. He already has written about turning the area along Stony Island into a retail corridor almost like North/Clybourn for example. East 79th would be a great start in that direction.

BTW, if anyone has any areas they would like to add to what they would like to see developed, please feel free to share. Send an e-mail, post to our FB page, or send a tweet @thesixthward. Feel free to send pics as well.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Red Line South Project will commence on May 19th

May 19th is the date and the surrounding neighborhoods are still talking about the project. The May 18th meeting of the Greater Chatham Alliance will be discussing the coming project. In their May newsletter they noted some rumors and facts about the project:
  • Starting May 18th, both State Street and Lafayette will be closed during the length of the project (approx. 5 months): No cars or trucks will be allowed to park on these streets. FACT!
  • Vehicles on the above streets will be towed by the city and fined. During the first two weeks, you will only be towed! FACT!
  • No vehicles will be allowed to drive down State Street and Lafayette during the entire Reconstruction Project. RUMORED!
  • CTA will be running dual lanes of buses down the closed streets of State and Lafayette. RUMORED!
  • 79th, 83rd and 87th arterial streets will be closed down during this project to accommodate construction equipment. RUMORED!
  • CTA plans to add additional security to protect citizens boarding these express buses and in the areas affected. RUMORED!
Also concerned about crime, traffic, with the additional issue of parking if residents on Lafayette and State Streets aren't able to park in front of their residences.

If you want to learn more about this project and additional information to adjust your communtes for the next 5 months then visit the special page for this project @

In the meanwhile here are some articles that will keep you aprised of this project. Found most of them courtesy of

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sun-Times: CTA replacing outside security by hiring customer-service workers

During the past two or so months you may have seen posts advertising about the part-time Customer Service Assistant positions that the CTA had held job fairs for. Well this story will concern those of you who have pursued this opportunity!
Spurred by a deal with a key labor union, the transit agency has begun replacing hundreds of contract security guards it now uses to patrol L and subway stops with full- and part-time CTA customer-service employees. CTA officials say the move will make stations safer by putting security responsibilities in the hands of workers trained especially to do the CTA work.

The customer-service workers “will have roughly the same amount of training as the private security personnel, but that training will be specific to the CTA,” agency spokesman Brian Steele says.

The new workers will perform the same duties as the private security guards, according to Steele, and will be able to do other things, too — like retrieve items dropped on L tracks and help customers who are unfamiliar with ticket machines.

One difference: The CTA isn’t requiring its customer-service workers to get state security licenses — something the agency now requires under its private security guard contract with Securitas Security Services USA, and its minority subcontractor, Star Detective & Security Agency. The more than 450 full-time CTA rail guards employed by those companies all are licensed through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, so they’re trained and screened under rules set by state law.

Not requiring that poses “a safety concern,” says James Huckabee, vice president of Star Detective, especially in light of so-called wilding incidents in which groups of teenagers get off the L and attack or harass people, and the Boston Marathon bombings, in which bombs were placed in backpacks.
The CTA plans to keep hiring outside security companies to provide guards working with dogs at train stops and has no plans to change that staffing. Securitas is in the final year of a five-year contract that paid it $1.7 million last year for that work, also with Star as its subcontractor. The contract is up in July.

Besides keeping the canine cops, the CTA has installed $26 million worth of high-definition video cameras at L and subway stations — a tool it didn’t have when Securitas was first hired in the late 1990s.

In February, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis found that crime at L stops was up 21 percent in 2012, but violent crime was down 30 percent. The most common offense — turnstile-jumping or other forms of fare evasion — soared by 41 percent, the analysis found.

The move to replace the 450-plus private security guards with CTA employees follows a Dec. 7 deal the agency reached with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308. The agreement calls for the CTA to employ a total of 240 full-time “customer-service representatives,” and nearly 700 new, part-time “customer-service assistants,” each who can work up to 32 hours a week.

The CTA plans to have the new hires in place this summer. More than 280 have been hired so far. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Capitol Fax: She'd better be ready for a fight

Anita Alvarez
Rich Miller takes a look at next year's election line-up. If Lisa Madigan leaves her position at Attorney General who might line-up to take her place? Could it be Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez?

On State's Attorney Alvarez, Miller states: "If she runs, African-American politicians are gonna be up in arms. Guaranteed."

Why is that you may ask? Well, last December I posted a video from CBS 60 Minutes and she was interviewed on that program to discuss Chicago as a "false confession capital". Miller stated back then amounted her performance of her interview on the newsmagazine as "what could amount to political suicide". 

[VIDEO] Here's a video of then State's Attorney candidate Alvarez in 2010 for those of you who are concerned about your rights to own a gun via Newsalert!

[VIDEO] Also a video of State's Attorney Alvarez last year for those of you concerned about the many young Black men who has been railroaded by the office of the Cook County State's Attorney.

Progress IL: Englewood Residents Question TIF Program, Call For More Community Mobilization At Town Hall Meeting

You might have seen an image such as the one to the left on our FB page recently. On Saturday, the Resident Association of Greater Englewood hosted a town hall meeting on Englewood area tax increment financing (TIF) districts. Progress Illinois covered this event:
Property taxpayers in Englewood were furious upon learning at a town hall meeting Saturday that their tax dollars had contributed at least $44 million to the Englewood Neighborhood Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District since it rolled out in 2001. According to data from the CivicLab's TIF Illumination Project, some $44 million of taxpayer dollars had funneled to the TIF district between 2001 and 2011.

In 2011 alone, the TIF district siphoned $5 million from property taxpayers in the area, which would have normally gone to local units of government such as schools and parks, according to the CivicLab.

“The original concept is that (TIFs are) designed to have an impact on blighted areas, and just looking out the window, we know that a blighted area is all around us,” CivicLab's Bill Drew said at the TIF discussion, held at the Chicago Public Library's Hiram Kelly Branch.

Members of the volunteer-based TIF Illumination Project are traveling across the city in order to promote TIF transparency at the ward level.

There are 163 TIF districts across Chicago and an additional 280 in suburban Cook County.
A little more than $24 million was left sitting in the bank account of the Englewood Neighborhood TIF district at the end of 2011, according to the CivicLab’s analysis.

And that news didn’t sit well with some of the residents.

“We need an attorney,” said Etta Davis, a 50-year Englewood resident. “We know we are being had. We’re being messed over. We are being stolen from.”

Some Englewood homeowners who live in the district did receive some TIF money as part of the Neighborhood Improvement Program to make repairs to their homes, according to the CivicLab’s analysis.

But overall, TIF money was spent on little, if any, commercial developments within the district since its creation, the CivicLab found.
It seems as if the controversy over TIFs aren't going away and this article is well worth your time.