Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Reader: There goes the Englewood neighborhood

Quote from Joravsky's Reader article
Ben Joravsky writes about the rail yard expansion in Englewood:
At the moment, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's most ambitious economic development plan for Englewood is the expansion of an intermodal freight yard, where metal containers will be loaded from trains to trucks and vice versa. It's a loud, smelly operation that will have diesel-spewing locomotives and trucks rolling into the area day and night.

The current freight yard runs from 47th to 55th, roughly between Wallace and Eggleston. The expansion will take it south five blocks to 61st Street.

So the northeast corner of Englewood—a swath of land nearly two miles long and a quarter-mile wide—will be dedicated to a freight yard pumping smoke, soot, and other pollutants into the lungs, blood, and hearts of everyone in the surrounding neighborhood.

Norfolk Southern, the Virginia-based rail company that's developing the project, says the freight yard will be a boon for the city, creating several hundred jobs. Maybe so.

But it's the sort of large-scale, environmentally dubious endeavor you'd hope the city would sign on to only after careful independent analysis. Then we could determine—or at least discuss—whether the jobs are worth the health costs.

But so far the city's health department has commissioned no studies.

Just imagine if this were being proposed for the north side. I know—not in a million years. Still, think about it in relation to the recently completed brouhaha over Wrigley Field. The back-and-forth between the Rickettses and the locals dragged on for months as they wrestled over such monumental issues as how big the left-field sign should be.
This is something you should finish reading.

Greg Hinz: New law makes it twice as hard to run for alderman

Come fall 2014 not long after the general elections next year, it'll be time to circulate petitions for the municipal election of 2015. If you plan to run, you most certainly will need to start working on your petition signature gameplan now!
Do you know that a new law will make it twice as hard to run for alderman in 2015 as it was in the last election?

If you didn't — and almost no one does — welcome to the world of sneaky Springfield politics, in which what some call the new "aldermanic protection plan" gets enacted without anyone really noticing.

The measure involved will double the number of petition signatures from qualified voters that will be needed to run from alderman from 2 percent of the votes cast in the last election to 4 percent. In other words, it'll be twice as hard to dump turkey incumbents.

In most cases, that means a candidate will need something like 300 to 600 signatures, up from roughly 150 to 300 now, according to Chicago Board of Elections spokesman Jim Allen. (The figures vary because voter turnout rates sharply vary from ward to ward.) But since election lawyers tend to pick apart petitions on all sorts of teeny technicalities — i.e. someone signed "Dick" rather than "Richard" — the wise candidate will secure at least twice the minimum number of signatures needed. That means that under the new law a candidate really will need 600 to 1,200 signatures, and getting them is no easy task.
Anyhow, buried on bottom of page 168 of the 194-page S.B. 2418, as amended by Mr. Harmon, is a three-word amendment to current law, changing "two per cent" to "4 percent."

Three words in 194 pages. Perhaps that's why no one noticed it, given that the main feature of the bill — and all of the headlines — centered on how it also makes Illinois the 18th state to allow online voter registration.

Now, Gov. Pat Quinn has a big staff that reviews bills like these to unearth

their mysteries. He or his staff must have known about the aldermanic change.
In mentioning Gov. Quinn who is running for re-election that he used his amendatory veto to deny state legislators their salaries in order to force them into action on pensions. So Hinz notes his lack of any action on this legislation and also noted the recent appointment of Deborah Mell to her father - powerful former Ald. Richard Mell - old city council seat by the Governor and Mayor Emanuel respectively.

This could lead to a conclusion I'm sure many of you have already reached on this story. It just let's us know that we need to pay attention if it's not on the city council it's in Springfield or Washington. Someone had to comb through this law to find the minor details!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Don Rose: Rahm’s two cities

Perhaps you read this op-ed in yesterday's Sun-Times:
“There are no ghettos in Chicago,” proclaimed Mayor Richard J. Daley in the spring of 1963. The next day he was booed off the Grant Park bandshell where he was to address a national NAACP meeting.

Exactly 50 years later Mayor Rahm Emanuel told New York Times Magazine writer Ben Austen (June 2) that it was a “false dichotomy” to suggest there is a gulf between the city’s central core and the neighborhoods beyond. Such ideas should be “scrubbed,” quoth Emanuel in a sophisticated echo of Daley’s bloviation.

Sure. There is no gulf between Lincoln Park, where I live or nearby, where Emanuel lives, and all-black Englewood: poverty stricken, plagued with gang and drug violence, murder an everyday affair. No dichotomy here. Daley the First might not even consider Englewood a ghetto.

There was no booing or outcry at Emanuel’s comment, however, perhaps because not enough residents of Englewood and other points south and west of Lincoln Park read the Times Magazine.
In the first decade of this century we finished tearing down those high-rise ghettoes without providing alternative affordable housing. That, coupled with massive home foreclosures, induced black flight to nearby suburbs and even the old South. Chicago lost 181,000 African Americans — a 17 percent drop. Some cynics suggest it was as intentionally engineered as Daley’s segregation.

Now there are said to be too many underpopulated schools so we’re closing 50, mostly in black and Latino communities, purportedly to improve education. The net effect according to urban historians such as Brad Hunt, quoted in Austen’s article, is a “slow death” for those neighborhoods. “No one is talking shrinkage, even though that’s what we’re doing.”

There are many who will silently applaud increased black flight, much as they did Daley’s “holding the color line.” Not that we won’t have ghettos, they’ll just be smaller. We demolished public housing, but we’re building plenty of luxury high-rises in the center now that a shrinking black population won’t encroach on them.

Guess what: though they’re closing 50 schools in the other Chicago, they are apparently going to build us a new school in Lincoln Park.
 What do you think?

Crain's: CTA sets complex schedule for Ventra card

I wrote about this over the weekend and now we know more about the rollout for Ventra. If you attend a Chicago-area university and CPS you will recieve a Ventra card first in the form of the CTA U-Pass, however, if you possess a Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus will be the next group.

If you continue to use those old style transit cards and passes (or magnetic strip cards, such as the 1day, 3day, 7day or 30day passes), they won't be accepted by December although any value left on the cards can be transferred to a Ventra card by March of next year.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Road Construction on 83rd

Location: Chatham, Chicago, IL, USA
From Greater Chatham Alliance (thank you!) :

Hello, Greater Chatham Alliance Members,  Chatham and other 6th Ward Neighbors:

Brian Sleet, Alderman Sawyer's  Chief of Staff, emailed GCA this  morning to say:

"We are having 83rd street repaved;  the  grinding is scheduled to begin  this afternoon (today)."

"Phase 1 should be finished this week.  We don't have full timetable yet. They  are doing some ADA corners."

GCA will keep you posted on any more specific details that the Alderman's office  sends us.

Please inform your neighbors who don't have email, family/friends, block club  members and your church.

Family Wellness Health Fair

Location: 1215 East 83rd Street, Chicago, IL 60619, USA
Family Wellness Health Fair

State Representative Elgie Sims (D-Chicago) in partnership with state Senator Donne E. Trotter, state Representative Marcus C. Evans, Jr., Cook County Commissioner Stanley Moore, Jr. and Wal-Mart is hosting the 17th Legislative District Family Wellness Heath Fair and Back to School rally on Saturday, August 3 at Avalon Park in Chicago.

As we prepare to celebrate the start of a new school year, the Fair will provide students of our area with school supplies as well as the opportunity to receive health information for the entire family, including free child immunizations (shot records required), HIV/AIDS testing and adult wellness checkups (blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes), all screenings will occur free of charge
Sims represents Illinois' 34th House District, which includes portions of the South Side of Chicago, Chicago's south suburbs, and Will and Kankakee counties.  For more information, please contact Penny Tillman at (773) 783-8800.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sun-Times: Urban violence summit held at Chicago State

Recently a summit was held at Chicago State University and the Sun-Times did a report on it:
More than 200 people assembled at Chicago State University Friday to discuss urban violence in Chicago and other areas across the country, and ways to prevent it.

The gathering, billed as the “Emergency Summit on Urban Violence,” was attended by Rush, and other Illinois Democratic Reps. Danny Davis and Robin Kelly; Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; the Rev. Jesse Jackson and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“With all due respect to Newtown and Arizona and the mass murders, we need to have voices for the urban areas and for urban violence,” Kelly said.

Officials said they know it’s a complex issue.

“There are so many things that impact the presence of violence in our society,” Davis said. “It’s poverty, it’s school closings, its a lack of good education opportunities, it’s a lack of jobs and opportunity to work, it’s the need for parenting, it’s need to rebuild the infrastructure and so all of these things become a part of the comprehensiveness of violence.”

The gathering not only allowed concerned residents hear the politicians speak, but also offered them an opportunity to share their own ideas. It’s what the organizers wanted.

“The people themselves are gathering around tables and in rooms and they are discussing not just the problems, but they are coming up with solutions and I fully expect that when we gather [later] ... that we’re going to have some creative and insightful solutions — a ways out of this violent dilemma and violent episode that we are witnessing throughout our nation and every urban center in America,” Rush said.

Rush said he and the other members of Congress at the summit intend to follow up on the ideas offered.
Here's another report from the Chicago Tribune.

Was anyone else able to attend? Feel free to share your thoughts on this issue. Hit the comment line or send us an e-mail accessible in the sidebar to the right.

311 call - 19 days and counting

Location: Chicago, IL 60619, USA
Here's another 311 problem: neighbors (2 sets of them) cut down branches form their tree.

I didn't think I could trust them to call 311, so I did, on July 5, to pick up the branches in front of my garage. The number was 13-00887639

After 19 days, nothing happened. So I called 311 again. The new number, called on 7/24 is now 13-01016686

Please consider calling 311 to help this problem get solved.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

About those wasps

Last year, I noticed some wasps next door.
I also was a bit confused by what I saw...I wasn't sure if a cicada had captured a wasp and was bringing it down to eat, or if the wasp had caught the cicada.

After seeing this sign at a UIC facility -- now I know what I saw.

Has anyone else seen these wasps around? 

Tribune: Low-income CTA Ventra customers likely to resist registering card, lose benefits

We've been hearing a lot about this new Ventra system over the past few months. This will be the new way to collect fares on the CTA and if you currently use either a Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus they will be replace by Ventra next year. You should've recieved an e-mail from CTA with regards to recieving your Ventra cards.

Either way recently John Hilkevitch wrote about a study that illustrates how low-income riders may lose money if they elect not to register their Ventra cards.
The transit agency's officials have said it's an especially good deal for low-income commuters who sign up for an optional prepaid debit MasterCard account, because those people typically "operate outside the financial mainstream and have no relationship with a banking institution,'' according to the CTA.

But low-income riders who now use cash to pay fares are unlikely to register their Ventra transit cards, under assumptions made by the CTA fare equity analysis, which was conducted as a test of Title VI requirements of the Civil Rights Act.

As the result of not registering their cards, those customers, who constitute about 11 percent of CTA rail riders, would be ineligible to receive the $5 credit toward future transit rides. The credit is intended as a refund of the $5 that customers pay for the Ventra transit cards.

Failing or refusing to register the Ventra transit card has another drawback. If the card is lost or stolen, no refund will be issued for the remaining value on the card, officials said.

CTA officials said they plan to waive the $5 acquisition fee on an undetermined number of Ventra cards that will be handed out at promotional events this year. Consequently, the impact on low-income and minority riders "could be mitigated by this action,'' the CTA said.
BTW, Ventra has been in the news this past winter because many were concerned about all the fees that were attached. Some of this controversy had some resolution, however you can check this page for all the fees associated with this system. If you don't use cash to ride CTA, I would encourage you to continue to research how this system works for you.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Corner Side Yard: More Chicago Crime, Isolation and the Rust Belt Formula, and Black Middle Class Flight

I had been reading the blog The Corner Side Yard looking for more analysis of what's going on in Detroit with their bankruptcy and I found this posting that discusses black middle class flight. It connects the incidents of crime occurring this summer with the flight of the middle-class. This is what's said about Chicago:
I believe Chicago’s current experience to be rather unique and particularly perplexing. To understand this one has to take a historical viewpoint. Like many other major cities in the U.S., Chicago did improve its economy during the 1990s, and had a resulting population increase and crime rate decrease. However, the economic gains of the decade did little to change the physical and social structure of the city. Areas that had already been doing well, like the North Side, were doing better. Other areas that had been on the cusp of change but needed that last little bit of catalyst, like the West Loop or South Loop, started to improve. But for the most part, Chicago’s legacy as one of the most segregated cities in America remained intact.

But starting in the last decade, shifts began to occur in Chicago’s socioeconomic dynamic. The Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation, an ambitious plan to dismantle the public housing high-rises and create new public housing and mixed income communities, began in earnest in 1999. The high-rise projects that many were familiar with – Robert Taylor Homes, Stateway Gardens, Cabrini-Green – all came down. Thousands of public housing families were given a choice: they could receive new homes in new developments, or they could receive vouchers and select housing where they liked. Unfortunately for the CHA, the pace of new development construction did not meet the pace of dismantling, so most tenants opted for the vouchers and selected the voucher option.

This changed the dynamics in many Chicago neighborhoods. Former public housing residents generally moved to areas closest to where they came from, on the South and West sides of the city. They moved into working-class neighborhoods like Austin, Auburn-Gresham and Roseland. This caused neighborhood allegiances to shift, and caused strife in communities dealing with the influx. This in turn led to more black middle class flight from those working-class neighborhoods. And then the economic collapse of the late 2000s. And that’s how we get to the spike in murders and shootings in Chicago today.

The formula seems pretty clear to me. In Chicago’s case, public housing resident dispersion (in a notoriously segregated city), plus middle class black flight, plus economic distress, equals a higher murder rate. In other cities with rising murder rates, you could take out the public housing variable but the rest is constant.

To me this is fundamentally a problem of isolation. The inner-city inhabitants of our Rust Belt cities have become the “left behind”, and have been so for at least three generations. Just yesterday I saw an article on Atlantic Cities about a study that suggests that poor, inner-city residents may care more deeply about urban neighborhoods because they have fewer relocation options available to them. Is it any coincidence that so many of the Rust Belt’s major cities – Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee, St. Louis, among others – lead the way on segregation indices?
As we want to bring the communities of "The Sixth Ward" back into prominence here's something to consider:
A last point about middle class black flight.  Thousands of blacks are doing now what millions of other Americans did before them – move to the suburbs when they had the means.  Unfortunately, they may be moving to live out yesterday’s dreams.  Recent studies have shown that there is an emerging and possibly enduring  trend of city populations growing at rates faster than that of suburban areas, in contrast to the typical city-decline, suburban-growth meme of the last 60 years.  If this truly is the case, I fear that the black middle class that is currently moving to the edge of metro areas will find themselves stuck in declining areas, just as cities complete their turnaround.  If this continues, blacks will find themselves perpetuating the cycle of isolation that has limited their economic fortunes since the 1960s.
The whole article is worth a thorough read.

Ruggles playground slide -- still NOT fixed!

Location: Ruggles Elementary School, Chicago, IL 60619, USA
On May 28, I reported how Ruggles playground has had a slide that has been broken for several months (possibly as early as last summer),

That 311 case number was 13-00586860, and it was left on May 15.

I called on Wednesday, July 24 (2 months later). No action has been done, but I have a new case number  = 13-01016700.

I won't go over the whole post (we have more photos there as well), but hundreds of SMALL CHILDREN use that park every day over the course of this summer, and especially during the school year.  How long will this problem stay a problem?

Please call 311 to get updates, as well as Alderman Rod Sawyer's office.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sun-Times: Former state Rep. Howard to plead guilty

The longtime representative of the 34th District Constance "Connie" Howard is expected to plead guilty to mail fraud.
Howard is expected to admit skimming roughly $28,000 out of about $76,700 raised between 2003 and 2007 from the Tee Off For Technology charity golf outing, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Springfield.

The money that she took went for her “personal and political use, including expenses associated with the promotion of her campaign,” and also was used to provide financial help to an unnamed “legislative aide” who worked for her.

The golf event was designed to raise scholarship funds for needy students pursuing college degrees in computer science and related fields. But of the nearly $77,000 raised, Howard is expected to admit awarding only five $2,500 scholarships.

A court document alleging the fraud was filed July 17. The U.S. Attorney’s office released a statement Wednesday morning that Howard was expected to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Byron G. Cudmore at 1:30 p.m. and plead guilty.

Howard, 70, was first seated in the House in 1995. She abruptly resigned in July 2012, citing “personal reasons,” after federal investigators subpoenaed records from two state agencies about a state-funded AIDS awareness group she founded called the Let’s Talk, Let’s Test Foundation.
Hat-tip Capitol Fax!

CBSChicago: There’s More To Englewood Than Violence

[VIDEO] CBS Chicago's Dorothy Tucker visits Englewood and notes the antique housing and the activism in Englewood. You will see an appearance by RAGE's Aysha Butler. It just lets you know that there are positive things to know about this city's many neighborhoods. Englewood doesn't have the best reputation, but still it has quite a few things going for themselves. That's what you see in the video above.

Also this is a good message.
Community issues consume much of the meeting, but this is also where they plan “Peaceful Projects” like last month’s fun festival in Sherwood Park, the scene of a recent shooting.

The community group in Englewood is called Residents Association of Greater Englewood, or RAGE.

“We call it positive disruption. People aren’t coming by to rob folks if you have a ton of people out with music and fun,” said Butler. “The issue of violence will probably never go away. I mean I don’t know what going to happen with violence but what it does for us is we keep creating more peace.
Ah Englewood's version of "positive loitering". This should go for everywhere in the city even in places where safety is taken for granted. We must continue to create peace.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Sun-Times: Rush calls for federal funds to create more trauma centers

Let's hope Rush is able to get this bill through Congress and is able to get some of this money into his district:
In an effort to fix what he called a “dire” need for a South Side Level 1 trauma center, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) has introduced a bill to provide $100 million to create more trauma centers.

Rush said he recognizes that $100 million isn’t enough to sustain the many areas that need trauma centers. But he said that it’s a start.

The bill, called the Trauma Act, was introduced in the U.S. House two weeks ago. A vote has not yet been called.

If the bill is passed, the money would be allocated to trauma deserts around the country, including Chicago. Trauma deserts are those that do not have a trauma center within a reasonable distance, such as five miles.

A Level 1 trauma center provides the highest level of surgical care to trauma patients. Lower-level trauma centers and other hospitals may not have the doctors they need to treat more serious injuries, such as car accidents or gunshot wounds.

Chicago has four Level 1 trauma centers: John H. Stroger Jr Hospital of Cook County and Mount Sinai Hospital on the West Side and Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center and Northwestern Memorial Hospital on the North Side.

The withdrawal of the now-closed Michael Reese Hospital from Illinois’ trauma network in 1990 — two years after the University of Chicago Medical Center did the same — has left Chicago’s South Side without a Level 1 trauma center for adults south of 15th Street or east of Western.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Chatham's Newest Business: Flecks Coffee

Location: 343 East 79th Street, Chicago, IL 60619, USA
IMG_0731_32831Several years ago a long time business, Creative Florist, in Chatham closed its doors for good at 343 E 79th. Many felt it would be difficult to find a quality business to take the place of the florist. While the pessimist saw doom and gloom mother and daughter team Mrs. Olga Turner and daughter Zuli saw potential.

Last month the Turner's opened Fleck's Coffee in the location. The coffeehouse was born from both ladies love of coffee and the fact that they own another business in the community and when they wanted a great cup of coffee they had to travel a great distance.

IMG_0727_32791So far the response from the Chatham community has been overwhelmingly supportive and feel that this is the type of business that will ignite an economic development boom along 79th street.  Alderman Roderick Sawyer states he is very happy they chose to open in Chatham and wants more businesses like this. The cafe is a spacious , bright and airy spot at the corner of 79th and Calumet and when you enter be prepared to be greeted by the Turner's or one of their friendly staff members.

There is something for everyone at Flecks. The owners have created a socially conscious business from hiring employees from the community to the coffee they use. Coffee is the central menu item. You can get your a great cup of coffee as well as coffee frappe, latte's, macchiatos, etc. The barista's can satisfy the most persnickety coffee drinker to those who want to learn more about coffee. The cafe purchases Counter Culture certified fair trade coffee produced from various regions of Africa. If all the coffee drinks sound foreign to you don't be put off, they carry great frappes, smoothies and ice tea drinks. If you are hungry they can get cook to order breakfast items, sandwiches and some tasty pastries. If you are having an event you can host it at the cafe or you can have them cater the event for you. For all you social media butterflies, they offer free WI-FI.

The grand opening is this weekend July 19-21, 2013 and the community is invited. You can find out more about Fleck's Coffee by "like' on Facebook(Flecks.Coffee or follow them at Twitter(@Fleckscoffee).
flecks coffee grand opening

Friday, July 12, 2013

Red Eye: 90 percent of southern Red Line riders still use CTA

While I'm going to quote Red Eye in this posting here, there is an alternate headline provided by the Chicago Sun-Times: "CTA: Red Line south’s ridership down 10 percent". This is what Red Eye had to say:
The CTA has retained about 90 percent of its South Side Red Line riders during the shutdown of the southern section of the Red Line, which began in mid May.

These riders have opted to use free shuttle service, Red Line trains rerouted to Green Line tracks, Orange and Green Line trains and bus routes that parallel the Red Line during the construction project, which shuttered nine stations south of Roosevelt Road beginning May 19 and is expected to run through Oct. 19.

"The additional alternative service options out there are working," CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said. "We knew that ridership would be affected."

The CTA estimates 9.8 percent of its southern Red Line riders have opted to use Metra, Pace or their cars instead of the CTA. Metra saw an average increase of about 1,000 riders a day on the Rock Island Line since the project began, Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said. There were about 100 extra riders on the Metra Electric line.

The CTA said 46,700 riders entered the Red Line between the Cermak-Chinatown and 95th Street stops in April. The agency counted 42,100 riders using alternative CTA service in May and June.
In addition many have opted to use the buses such as either the No. 3 or the No. 29 that roughly parallel the CTA Red Line South. Are you using alternative routes on your public transit commute? Have you switched to driving as a result of this temporary disruption?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

AP: Black caucus members focus on Chicago gun violence

Will the Congressional Black Caucus provide leadership on this issue? What do you think?
Provoked by continued gun deaths and shootings in Chicago, several members of the Congressional Black Caucus said Thursday they would gather in the city for an "emergency" summit on urban violence.

Illinois Democrat Bobby Rush said in a news conference at the Capitol that the intent is to bring together national and local minds to address the causes of shootings that have become a focus of the national gun debate.

But Rush said participants also will look beyond Chicago to other urban centers besieged by gun violence. The announcement comes after a Fourth of July weekend in which 11 people were shot to death in Chicago and several dozen more were wounded.

The members say they will hold the summit on the Chicago State University campus on July 25 and 26 and the event is open to the public.

"We must not stand silent in the wake of all this this violence that occurs not only in Chicago, but in every major urban area in this nation," Rush said.

Sarah Hamilton, spokeswoman for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, did not know if an invitation had been extended yet to Emanuel to participate.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tribune: Charges in July 4 shooting of boy, 7, in park

Marshan D. Bradley
We heard about the shooting at Cole Park during the course of the recently holiday. Now there's a suspect charged in that shooting which hit a 7-year-old boy - Christian Lyles - who was the unintended target.
A man on probation for a drug charge is accused of firing into a South Side park on July 4 and wounding a 7-year-old boy.

Marshan D. Bradley, 21, of the 10900 block of South Vincennes Avenue, is charged with one count of aggravated battery, discharge of a firearm.

Police believe Bradley fired a bullet that struck a 7-year-old boy in the neck last Thursday night in Cole Park in the 300 block of East 85th Street in the Chatham neighborhood.

The boy, who police said was not the intended target, was taken in critical condition to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, according to fire officials.

He has since been released from the hospital, according to Police News Affairs Officer John Mirabelli.

"Thankfully, he's okay," Mirabelli said. He declined to elaborate on the boy's injuries, citing privacy restrictions.
I'm glad to here that the boy has been released from the hospital, hopefully his wounds in spite of being hit in the neck wasn't serious.

Pressure continues on Black legislators on gay marriage

Back in April, I did a post asking if anyone believes that Black religious leaders are chasing the wrong issue as far as gay marriage. Two months later we see that gay marriage is still an issue to consider for Black state legislators. Before the recent legislative session ended in May, legislation that would've allowed for gay marriage failed to come up for a vote.

A group of Black religious leaders led by former state Senator James Meeks - who also just so happen to be the Pastor at Salem Baptist Church located in the Pullman neighborhood - has been targeting Black state legislators on this issue. Reportedly Rev. Meeks himself provides the voice to the new round of robocalls produced by Family Pac that are opposed to gay marriage.

After these robocalls started again, a south side state legislator - state Rep. Monique Davis - who appeared to be leaning towards the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act has now come out as a no vote on this legislation. She claimed that the calls to her office on this issue has been 15-1 in opposition.

Two of our local state Representatives - Andre Thapedi & Elgie Sims - are being targeted by these opposition robocalls. I'm curious as to how much opposition or support they're running into on this issue at least from their constituents.

In the meanwhile, check out this robocall you can hear over at the Capitol Fax airing on "Black-oriented" radio stations that feature President & First Lady Obama that is in support of gay marriage. The President has already come out in favor, although, it apparently hasn't moved the pending legislation past either chamber of the General Assembly as of yet.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sun-Times: CPS cuts into schools’ cellphone tower cash deals

My old elementary school, Bennett-Shedd, were beneficiaries of such an arrangement. Now I wonder how many other schools have such arrangements and if there are any concerns over this move by CPS:
It was a way for a number of cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools to generate a little extra income on their own: leasing roof space to cellular phone companies looking for a place to erect their towers.

But now CPS is putting the arm on the schools, allowing them to keep only a third of the money they raise.

The change was quietly slipped through, surprising school administrators in an already tumultuous budget year.

The district told them, via their new budgets for the year, that the schools could have just a third of that money and the other two-thirds would be distributed to the rest of CPS schools.

In a $5 billion budget for the district of about 400,000 children, the $4.2 million generated by about 140 cellphone leases at some 95 schools could run a CPS elementary school.
There are other revenue streams for a school to exploit. For example:
Other kinds of leases have not been touched — fields and auditoriums and parking spaces leased to Zipcar — according to the district and several LSCs.

Not yet, anyway, said Tony Porfirio, LSC chair of Blaine Elementary School in Lake View, which abuts a particularly congested segment of Southport Avenue near the Music Box Theater and half a mile west of Wrigley Field.

The Lake View school doesn’t have a cell tower agreement anymore, but it does lease its auditorium and some classrooms to a church on Sundays, and its parking lot is frequently used during Cubs games on nights and weekends. The church deal yields it about $34,000 a year, according to the lease documents; the parking deal is worth another $60,000.

Last year, Porfirio said, that extra money paid for a long list of goods: printer supplies, field trip buses, professional development on using technology, refurbished iPads and part of a learning program used during study hall for enrichment. And this year, Blaine stands to lose about $600,000 overall over last year, threatening the school’s arts programs.
 How else will our neighborhood schools - especially those in low income communities - be able to raise funds for our youth to educate them?

Monday, July 8, 2013

What to do about these incidents of gun violence?

It's very frustrating to find that many headlines here in our fair city involved mainly gun violence usually over the course of a weekend or an extended holiday such as the recently passed 4th of July holidy. We recently found out that a 7-year-old boy had been shot at Cole Park while picnicking with his family. As it turns out he had been hit with a stray bullet as the shooter was actually attempting to shoot at a vehicle.

A shooting is enough of a problem, what's worse is that sometimes the shooter actually hits unintended targets such as the aforementioned boy. Unfortunately this increasingly happens in many of these violent incidents around the city.

I hate to add to the hyperbole of "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired". At the same time a friend of mine noted a newspaper that focused on the incidents of gun violence during the course of the summer and added my own admitted soundbite. I basically said we reside in a city where our young people don't graduate from high school and the only way they think they can solve their problems is by using a gun.

Admittedly not only was that a sound bite, but it was overly simplistic. Although I do believe there is an education component to solving this problem. Certainly we're living in a time where due to academic, financial, and utilization issues many of our elementary schools are being closed.

To be sure I wish I knew if there was an answer to the issue of criminal gun violence. Also I recognize that there are many in our communities who rightfully points their fingers at our elected leaders who they may feel aren't doing enough to stem this problem. At the same time as citizens, surely there is something we can do to make ourselves safer.

There is discussion of positive loitering which could also involve for example a group of neighbors playing softball at a local park as was scheduled to happen at Cole Park the Sunday after the incident involving the boy. Of course Chatham residents also have a neighborhood watch patrol group keeping an eye on the community. Also there also is a peace/back to school rally to be scheduled in the near future as well.

May we continue to come up with positive solutions that will keep us safe.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

What would you like to see at 79th/Rhodes?

79th/Rhodes as seen in Fall 2009
Recently Worlee over at Concerned Citizens of Chatham noted this organization known as See Potential and this vacant lot near 79th & Rhodes as a potential project. This lot was the home of the former movie house Rhodes Theater that formerly stood there.

This lot has been featured in the past on this blog as because it used to be a theater standing here and that fact fascinated me. Of course learning that in recent years after its demolition there have been disagreements over what should be developed here. In the meanwhile it remains vacant waiting for a decent development.

In his recent posting Worlee also noted the conflicts in the neighborhood that has prevented development. See Potential has several projects throughout the south side. And unfortunately he sees nothing but conflicts in seeing potential for this site.

In one of the past posts I was keen on having another theater built here. Not necessarily as a movie theater but certainly as something of an arts center, but a recent comment shot that idea down noting correctly that there is the Regal Theater down the street at 79th/Stony Island. Although at the moment there's not a whole lot going on there as it sits for sale. Also another idea would be for a community center here.

This leads to a recurring question here on this blog. What would you like to see happen here? Most importantly what potential do YOU see here?

Previous Posts

Saturday, July 6, 2013

WBEZ: Seeing potential amid Chicago neighborhood blight

Courtesy of WBEZ. Worlee wrote about this recently and expect a post about this - regarding a vacant lot - on Sunday. There are plenty of vacant properties that could use some TLC and See Potential is one way to find a positive use for these properties. One example is certainly the future home of the Kusanya Cafe in Englewood which is one of See Potential's projects. Let us know what you think of this and of course check out the posting for tomorrow! :)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Tribune: State gives Roseland Community Hospital another lifeline

Last month Roseland Hospital located at 45 W. 111th St was the subject of many news stories involved a potential closure and it's finances. At the tail-end we found out that it's CEO was no longer on the job (either fired or resigned) and that ultimately it got $350,000 from the state according to the Sun-Times.

More recently this hospital noted as a place where the under-insured and uninsured can receive treatment is getting some more money from the state:
With the dawn of a new fiscal year, Illinois has again advanced Roseland Community Hospital a round of supplemental payments that will help the beleaguered Far South Side hospital's safety net afloat for at least a few more weeks.

Bill Brandt, the chairman of the Illinois Finance Authority, said the state “advanced everything it could” earlier this week so the hospital “can preserve the status quo and ensure minimum health and safety standards are met while everyone continues to try to figure out a longer-term plan to keep Roseland open in some form.”

The amount of the payments wasn’t immediately available, but Brandt said the money should be enough for the hospital to continue paying its employees and accepting patients for at least the next three weeks.

The reprieve grants a new chief restructuring officer and a team of financial analysts additional time to assess whether the hospital, with its deepening financial woes, will be able to continue on as a going concern.

Officials from the governor’s office, the hospital and a team of crisis management and financial restructuring experts are working to determine what role Roseland can play in the community -- whether it can remain an acute-care, full-service hospital or whether its services need to be scaled back. 
It was noted that the Roseland has been in talks with the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System and Loretto Hospital located on Chicago's West Side unfortunately when the extent of Roseland's financial issues was known talks had broken off. It was estimated that "the hospital needs at least $17 million in the near term to pay down mounting debt and meet current obligations."

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sun-Times: Mayor Emanuel, CTA chief check in on CTA’s massive Red Line project

Been quite a while since we heard much news on this project and what about ridership on alternative routes and the shuttle buses along the route of the Dan Ryan branch:
Likening empty rail tracks full of gravel to an unplowed cornfield, CTA President Forrest Claypool on Tuesday stood with Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the CTA’s Red Line 47th Street station to show off the station’s progress.

“We are literally six weeks down and we have 17 weeks to go in this project, and we will continue to work as hard as we can, as we did on day one to make sure this project continues on time, on schedule and on budget,” Claypool said.

The 47th Street station, built in 1969, is just one of nine stations getting the overhaul in the transit agency’s $425 million Red Line South Reconstruction project.

The station that had customers take more than 1 million rides last year no longer has tracks. The stairs have been rebuilt, and all platforms and consoles are covered in plastic. The only thing that remains is part of an old roof — its decorative design intact — which will also get a facelift.

Claypool said the CTA is monitoring ridership week by week to make “tweaks,” including adding service to bus routes with increased ridership, like the bus routes that run parallel to the Red Line.

Additional service has been added to the No. 3 King Drive, No. 4 Cottage Grove, No. J14 Jeffery Jump and No. 29 State buses, during peak hours. The CTA says it saw noticeable ridership growth after May 19, when the project started, on those routes.

Claypool said the free express shuttle buses ferrying people from shuttered Red Line stops — at 95th, 87th, 79th, and 63rd streets — to the Green Line’s Garfield station — have seen “steady ridership” since the project began.

The CTA has declined to provide ridership information for May, saying the numbers are being finalized.
We're just over a month in this project and it isn't scheduled to end until October. Hopefully having to take public transit during the course of this inconvenience has been nothing more than an adjustment. Feel free to let us know how the commute has been on the CTA.