Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tribune - Union to CTA: Scrap Ventra until problems are fixed

I wonder if you agree with this. Is it time to push for a slower implementation of the new Ventra system in order to iron out all the kinks. Also I hope no one out there is putting their frustrations with the new fare collection system on CTA employees, they can't control the new policies of their employer even if they are considered public employees.
“The Ventra program is not working. There are people who are getting triple-, double-, quadruple-billed. Their credit cards are being billed that shouldn’t be. People are mad, they’re angry,’’ said Robert Kelly, Local 308 president of the Amalgamated Transit Union.

“But they are mad at the wrong person,’’ Kelly said at union headquarters downtown. “CTA should stop (Ventra) now, pull back, until they can work out all the kinks.’’

CTA officials said they have no intention of delaying the four-month rollout of Ventra through the end of the year.

The headaches started in September, when thousands of Chicago Card customers either didn’t receive Ventra cards as promised or they could not activate them. It was followed by difficulties loading the cards with money and using them on buses and trains.

“We are working on solutions to address problems with Ventra,’’ CTA spokesman Brian Steele said Thursday. “Kelly’s voice is new to this issue.’’

Kelly said widespread rider frustration over trying to use the Ventra system, including waiting in long lines at rail station turnstiles and fare vending machines, has the potential to “set people off,” and the CTA’s front-line workers are on the receiving end.

“You don’t know who is coming through that turnstile,’’ he said. “You don’t know if they are having a bad day. But when you put a system in place that doesn’t work, and then you tell all the customer service assistants, ‘Well, figure it out as people come through?’”

Steele said the CTA has no evidence of an increase in threats or violence against CTA workers in connection with Ventra. The CTA bus driver’s union, ATU Local 241, did not immediately respond to an inquiry about whether the union supports its affiliate’s call for the CTA to temporarily suspend Ventra in favor of the old fare system.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Capitol Fax: Jackson tried to report to prison early, turned away, now in custody

Odd! Well I can understand he wants to report to prison and start his sentence already. The former Congressman was scheduled to report to prison no earlier than November 1st as he was sentenced. It was in the news starting yesterday that he offered a list of visitors, and a mailing address to contact him in prison. Then we find out he was turned away and finally got into custody today.

Monday, October 28, 2013

RODKIN: Great House in Chatham for $219,900

Location: 8605 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60619, USA

8605 South Wabash Avenue
Chicago Magazine's Dennis Rodkin writes about this home you see above in Chatham. It's great to see Chatham houses are still worth writing about in mainstream publications.
List Price: $219,900
The Property: This house in Chatham looks sort of ordinary on the outside, but inside, it sizzles. The box-beamed ceilings in the open-plan living and dining room, a sharp new kitchen, stylish tile finishes in the three baths, and a big master bedroom with a sitting room and ample closets are all very crisp and tastefully done. You can see all that in the listing photos.

See what I mean? It’s a polished place, far jazzier inside than you’d guess when looking at it from the street.

There are five bedrooms, a first-floor office or sitting room, and a two-car garage. The lot is extra big: 35 by 160 feet, compared to the city standard of 25 by 125 feet. The immediate neighborhood is mostly bungalows and two-stories of different eras, some with pre-World War II charm and others younger and plainer.

This house is a foreclosure rehab, bought by the rehabbers in April for $35,000. I haven’t been able to reach the rehabbers or their listing agent, so I don’t know the home’s condition when they got it, and I don’t know what mechanical systems or other major components were replaced or upgraded during the rehab. Potential buyers should ask about that.
Later in the article they did discuss over foreclosure rehabs in the neighborhood which either had been sold or is listed in the $200K+ range. It seems Chatham housing is still a solid investment if you want to rehab homes and sell them for the right price.

They also made sure to note the amenities that exists nearby and that includes Target, Walmart, Luversia's, Chatham Foods, and even mentions the Chatham 14 Theaters located near the Chatham Ridge Shopping Center. That in addition to the transportation options noting the expressway, CTA buses, and the Metra. However they still had to add one thing about Chatham:
Like many parts of the South Side, in the past several years Chatham has struggled with a high crime rate—significantly higher than was the norm in this long-stable community. The Chicago Tribune’s crime index shows that while crime in the neighborhood is high, property crime and quality of life crime have been dropping since 2007–2008. Violent crime is down, too, but less steeply. The crime rate is bound up with the shockingly high black unemployment rate, which in Chicago has been running more than twice the rate of joblessness for whites.

Clearly, potential buyers of this house will want to think through the implications of the neighborhood crime rate, and determine whether they believe the risk of buying here is too high relative to other comparably priced neighborhoods.
Anyway, if you want to live in Chatham you can always click through to the article or the actual listing and get the process started to own this home!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Expired Meter: Alderman Beale Feels Parking Ticket Fine Increases Excessive

There were some stories last week about a proposed budget by Mayor Emanuel there are some proposed taxes such as an increase in cigarette taxes. Then, we have to be careful to be sure we follow the city's parking regulations. There's going to be increases in parking tickets and fees with that as well.

In fact 9th Ward Ald. Beale is speaking out about that:
South Side Alderman Anthony Beale (9th) isn’t taking kindly to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposal to increase fines on some parking violations and fees for impounded cars.

Beale believes these increases will disproportionately affect residents of lesser means according to DNA Info.

“I understand that we have to get creative to plug this hole but it seems like our creativity is coming off the backs of the poor and middle class,” Beale said. “Increasing rush-hour parking violations to $100 from $60 or storage fees for impounded cars to $20 from $10 is excessive.”

Earlier in the week, before the mayor’s budget address on Wednesday, City Hall said the mayor was proposing increasing the cost of some parking violations and by bumping up the cost of storage fees at city owned auto pounds according to the city. The city estimated these increases would bring in an additional $10 million a year in revenue.

This would include raising the fines for street cleaning, parking in a handicapped parking space, parking in front of a fire hydrant, rush hour parking and illegally parking a truck, RV, bus or taxi on a residential street.
Now, I'm not sure if Ald. Beale has voted against anything that the Mayor has proposed, and it's great to see that he's speaking up on this issue. The question is when it comes time to vote on the budget and its various items would Beale step forward and vote against it.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

VIDEO: Jahmal X "Chatham State of Mind"

[VIDEO] If this isn't something of a call to arms I don't know what is. Local author and activist Jahmal Cole entered this song into the 2013 John Lennon Songwriting Competition. He won the 2013 Grand Prize in the hip-hop category mentioning a number of local items that many who read this blog are familiar with.

Cole raps about the history of activism in this community. Also the crimes that occur in this community such as for example that young lady who was shot and killed leaving a bakery near 87th & King Drive. Also ensures to note that Chatham is a community that has the ability to make something happen.

Anyway here's some more info posted with the vid above and congrats to Mr. Cole:
"Chatham State of Mind" is the 2013 John Lennon Songwriting Competition Grand Prize Award Winning song by South Side Chicago Community Activist Jahmal Cole. The song was produced by Billa Camp.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Upcoming shredding events

Coming October 26, 2013, Illinois Service Federal is having a "Shred-O-Rama" at both of their locations in Bronzeville & Chatham. You can visit their Chatham location located at 8700 S. King Drive on Saturday from 10 AM to 1 PM. Please refer to the flyer above for more info.

Also 6th Ward Ald. Roderick Sawyer is organizating a 'Shred-A-Thon" next month, this information was just shared with us earlier this week:

Sixth Ward Alderman Roderick T. Sawyer will host a Shred-A-Thon on Saturday, November 9 in the parking lot of the 6th Ward Service Office, 8001 S. King Dr. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Alderman Sawyer has dedicated this day for getting rid of your paperwork that is safe for the environment while protecting all your personal information. For more information, call (773) 635-0006.
Also a flyer for this event can also be seen at this link!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

EVENT: Foreclosure prevention workshop

On October 29th from 6 PM to 7 PM, State Rep. Elgie Sims along with 6th Ward Ald. Roderick Sawyer, State Sen. Donne Trotter, and the IL Attorney General Office are sponsoring a foreclosure prevention workshop taking place at the branch of Urban Partnership Bank @ 7801 S. State St. To register or for more information call Rep. Sims' office at 773.783.8800 or via e-mail at repsims34 @

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Future of Transportation of Chatham

If names of companies like, I-GO, Zipcar, Divvy, Sidecar, Lyft, Uber all sound foreign to you., don't worry because soon they won't. While public transportation will not go away.

Private services will see a dramatic change as the old transportation models are being turned upside down. Companies such as I-GO and Zipcar are involved in carsharing. Carsharing is defined by wikipedia as is a model of car rental where people rent cars for short periods of time, often by the hour. They are attractive to customers who make only occasional use of a vehicle, as well as others who would like occasional access to a vehicle of a different type than they use day-to-day. While there are 100s of companies involved in car sharing I-GO and Zipcar are the clear leaders in Chicago and I-GO will be operational in Chatham in approximately 30 days. shuttle_service

For those who like to ride bikes but are outraged at the cost of a decent bicycle or the low quality of cheaper bicycles, then there is Divvy Bikes  for you. Divvy is a bike sharing program that follows the carsharing model.  For $7 a day you can have the use of a bicycle where you can pick it up at one station and drop it off at another. The program has been endorsed by the City of Chicago and has its share of controversy. bike rackThe bicycle racks are long and large and in many communities are on the street and take up parking spaces. Several businesses have threatened lawsuits as they feel these bike racks have negatively affected their business. On the far southside that includes Chatham, the service is being marketed via billboards and CTA bus shelters but the service is not currently available. The service appears to work best in communities that are "bike friendly" and have streetscapes that encourage bicycles(i.e. sidewalk bike racks,etc). Right now, Chatham doesn't currently have sidewalk bike racks and the placement of these racks needs to be discussed.

 The private driving business(taxicabs, limos, party buses, airport transportation) is seeing a dramatic shift in their business. The days of  checker and yellow cab are long gone and new national tech driven companies are entering the market. Companies such as Sidecar, Lyft, and Uber are technology driven companies that use smartphone technology to match those who need a ride with private individuals who are willing to offer rides. Ride sharing is not new to Chicago in various parts of the city Livery services offer ridesharing, most are small and are not always professional. The most famous ridesharing service is the "Jitney" service that exist along King Drive on the southside. The Jitney service was most popular in the 1960-70's when bus service was not very good and the private services that exist today were not available. Both Lyft and Sidecar are strictly peer to peer ride sharing services.  Uber is a peer to peer ridesharing service but does offer to match taxis, limo drivers and others with individuals who need a ride. In Chatham, King Drive Cab Affiliation also known as Abernathy or Jiffy Cab is the oldest African American owned taxi service in the city of Chicago. While these new competitors are entering the market, it doesn't mean traditional taxi companies will go out of business. The taxi business is embrassing technology. The taxi industry has a smartphone app called Hailo that offers riders the same advantages as the ridesharing companies.

 So consumers have more choices to get around the city. What will you choose?

Thoughts on my Red Line commute from 95th

On Sunday and Monday I took the Red Line downtown. It was a smoother ride than I had been used to as in the past there were slow zones and nothing but bumps and jerks throughout the ride. This time it ran much smoother and thus much faster than it used to. That's certainly a plus for this commute.

There are bound to be problems unfortunately. When I came back home Sunday night I got caught up in the incident where a truck crashed into the right-of-way and caused a significant enough of a delay that forced me to hop on a bus nearby to get home. And then it was reported the Sunday morning of it's re-opening that signal issues let to a significant delay. Also signal problems occurred on Tuesday as well, needless to say this is still a 24 hour operation and there are bound to be issues new or otherwise.

BTW, I also took the train downtown as well and nothing new to report there. It was smooth and rapid transit from 95th and back. Thankfully the incident that happened on Sunday night didn't affect my commute the next day although I'm sure CTA and other affected agencies did great work clearing the scene and bring service back to status quo.

Below are some videos and some links of the first weekday of service on the Dan Ryan after the reconstruction. Hopefully in some of the videos below you may have a positive view of the finished products of the recently concluded project.

Monday, October 21, 2013

EVENT: Property tax assessment appeal forum

I wish there was some advance notice on this as this event is expected to take place tomorrow Monday @ Greater Salem Baptist Church - 215 W. 71st. St. to commence at 6:00 PM. It's hosted by Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Larry Rogers and with 6th Ward Alderman Roderick Sawyer as a co-sponsor of this event. Info provided by the Greater Chatham Alliance. Please refer to flyer below.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Red Line: It's back!!!!

Photo by Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune on Oct. 20, 2013
I posted a status on the FB page last night, hopefully anyone who's reading this blog can let us know how the commute was on the first day. Feel free to tweet us, send an e-mail or leave a comment on either the FB page or the blog itself.

To start the Chicago Tribune wrote about the re-opening of the Dan Ryan branch today:
The CTA reopened all nine Red Line stations south of Roosevelt Road on Sunday at 4 a.m. after the five-month reconstruction project.

Riders greeted the return of the CTA's Red Line south branch with mixed emotions Sunday.

Many commuters standing on the 95th Street platform on a brisk morning said the service is being restored just in time for winter.

Others said they already miss the free shuttle buses as well as boarding the Green Line for free at the Garfield stop.

"I saved a lot of money using the free service, and it was just as fast as the Red Line," said Anthony Taylor, 34, while boarding a north-bound Red Line train at 87th Street on his way to work.

Several riders grumbled about a service delay on the first day of service on brand-new tracks. CTA officials said signaling problems delayed trains for about 20 minutes between 43rd and 47th streets.

"My trip was good, but the train stopped for a couple of minutes near 47th Street," said Nyesha Brooks, 21, as she waited for a bus at the 95th Street terminal. "I wasn't expecting that at all."
Yeah, there should be a lot of money saved by this reconstruction project. South of 63rd St. fares were .50 cents off and riding the shuttle buses to Garfield was free. I think we're all sad to see that go by the wayside and in comparison to the red line if they had kept the line open with all the slow zones they were much faster. However, now that they reconstructed the line hopefully it's much faster but since the Red Line is still 24 hours service there are bound to be problems as there were this morning.

The Sun-Times illustrates some of the people who will miss those free shuttle buses:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Can anyone figure out the "dreaded G word"?

While the excitement or apprehension of bringing Whole Foods Market to Englewood has largely died down within the past month that doesn't mean we can't continue to discuss the "dreaded G word". That's what Atlantic Cities discussed in this quote with Amanda Burden director of NYC's planning department:
"What we haven’t figured out is the question of gentrification," Burden added. "I have never, since I had this job, come up with a satisfactory answer of how to make sure everyone benefits. It’s a question I would welcome more answers as to how to make this a more equitable city. Because that’s how we continue to attract people from all over the world, is people perceive the city as an equitable city, and a city with opportunity for all. It’s not just those poetic words. But I really wonder how we can do it."
This quote is partially in response to whether or not the free market should decide the issue of affordable housing. On gentrification however it's safe to say there aren't any easy answers are there?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Return of the Red Line some politics with video on demand!

[VIDEO] ABC7Chicago took a ride on the Dan Ryan branch of the Red Line before everyday commuters will be on Sunday. Today also many of our city and state politicians also took a ride and lauded this branch's return to service. As you see in the video above they also made some comments about the reconstruction project.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Capitol Fax: Quinn attends huge anti-Rahm rally

[VIDEO] Rich Miller shares this video of a rally that took place at the UIC Forum yesterday. He describes this rally as a "blatantly anti-Rahm rally". This rally was alluded to in a status from RAGE's FB page.

If you read Miller's CapFax at times you may have seen reports how Gov. Quinn and Mayor Emanuel seem to butt heads at times. Now that it's about time for re-election for Quinn next year and Emanuel in 2015, it was noted by Miller that while "He didn’t really say all that much, but his presence at that rally likely won’t go unnoticed by the 5th Floor." The Governor's remarks are at about the 1hr 28min mark in the vid embedded above.

NOTE: The original vid was taken down on YouTube at some point and I added the most recent uploaded vid of this event by CAN-TV.

A lot of quotes were taken by this Tribune article about the "Take Back Chicago" rally from yesterday. In RAGE's status this was described as a rally of "thousands of community & union members to launch a powerful shared economic justice platform!!". Furthermore they also noted that "We are full support of #takebackchicago - We continue our work because we want to #takebackenglewood too!!

Speaking of re-election for the Mayor in 2015 could two Alderman possibly be angling to run for Mayor in about 16 months. This WBEZ article explores that possibility, although I could believe Bob Fioretti (2nd) might be more apt for a run than Scott Waguespack (32nd) since Fioretti has been essentially drawn out of his near south side ward in the remap.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October 20th the Dan Ryan Red Line is back in service!

[VIDEO] The new CTA Red Line South is coming on October 20. The 5 month long project that started in May will be at it's conclusion and the shuttle buses that took passengers to Garfield to catch a Green Line or rerouted Red Line train will be discontinued. Service will be status quo as it was before May 19th. It will be a long time in coming as well.

I noted this in passing as well as other CTA news mainly the Ventra card conversion on this blog last week. I hope people have settled that although granted new initiatives sometimes do have initial bugs. Though hopefully we will see improved service on the Dan Ryan branch when it's finally in service next week.

From CTA's FB page here's an album that shows more testing before the line is back in service.

Hat-tip Chicagoist!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Where are the Streets and Sanitation Supervisors

Lately, there have been some complaints about garbage pickup and other Street and Sanitation issues in the ward. This past Monday,at the Park Manor Neighbors Community Council meeting Alderman Roderick Sawyer stated that Street and Sanitation supervisor Mr. Paul Bryson has been assigned additional duties of working a Safe Passage route in Roseland (120th Michigan), by the head of Streets and Sanitation. Mr. Bryson is not the only Streets and Sanitation supervisor working "Safe Passage" and Alderman  Sawyer is not the only Alderman upset about not having a full time supervisor. 

DNA Info wrote an article about how several northside(Yes, northside) Alderman are not happy. Here is a portion of the article.

City workers from 15 agencies, including Streets and Sanitation and the Department of Transportation, are only being used on Safe Passage routes in initial back-to-school efforts, Miranda said.
They are not trained like Safe Passage workers are, but are fulfilling a different role, McCaffrey said. They provide services along the route and report unusual activity, he said.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy touted the collaboration earlier this year as a commitment to the safety of students, with Emanuel saying the route's staffing could be maintained.
But the $15.7 million plan has been criticized as mismanaged, poorly planned and unsustainable by the Chicago Teachers Union and City Council's Progressive Caucus, including Waguespack.
Although the city said employees still work in the field while manning Safe Passage routes, Waguespack said North Side workers sometimes must make long commutes to South or West Side schools in the morning and afternoon, leaving little time to clear service requests in a designated ward.
There's a "huge cost" to sending city employees places they're not normally assigned to, Waguespack said.
City employees are also paid more than the $10 an hour of Safe Passage workers. Streets and Sanitation ward superintendents earn an average salary of $88,733, or about $42.60 an hour. Building inspectors earn an average of $90,517, or about $43.50 an hour.
The 44th Ward superintendent, who has been helping with routes, earns $106,884 a year.

Read the entire article here  DNA Info.

My question is what happened to the money that was given to the non profits and churches who were suppose to man this program? Hmmm, another waste of taypayers money? What do you think?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ventra and the eventual return of the Red Line South

I wonder how you all are adjusting to your new Ventra cards. It seems CTA realizes that their customers aren't adjusting very well and have made some necessary adjustments accordingly. If you use a Chicago Card or a Transit Card those are still options for the time being. Originally after Monday you wouldn't be able to add money to any of those options for paying your CTA fare.

Incidentally I got my Ventra card in the mail recently. My only frustration with the system is having to register my card online. It doesn't seem to save the information entered online and when I do and successfully there's always some type of error. It's irritating, but I've only come to one conclusion...with a new government program or initiative there are bound to be initial problems.

The coming of Ventra comes to mind now because when I got on a Dan Ryan shuttle bus on Wednesday morning a CTA bus supervisor boarded our bus at 95th and made an announcement. He let us know that soon (being October 20, 2013), the Dan Ryan branch of the Red Line will return to service at 4 AM. The free rides will be over and if we have Ventra cards it's time to get them registered so that if you paid the $5 fee you can get that back. Additionally you can use these cards as pay-as-you-go or get one of several CTA passes available on the Ventra card.

You know this was good customer service by the supervisor and he should be commended for it. We all will be thankful to be riding on a newly reconstructed L route and for many it has been a long spring-summer-fall without it in service. While the CTA is bring back a service many of us took for granted now we have to come to grips with a new fare system!

BTW, there is an actual countdown clock to the re-opening of the Dan Ryan branch over at the CTA's Red Line South webpage.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Media meet at Flecks Coffee!

Location: 343 East 79th Street, Chicago, IL 60619, USA
Following a media event with Rahm Emnauel, two of Chicago's famed political reporters had lunch at Flecks Coffee, 343 E. 79th Street.

The meeting was in regards to small businesses. Mary Ann Ahern of NBC 5 Chicago and Charles Thomas of ABC 7 Chicago were struck by the comments of Flecks Coffee co-owner Zuli Turner and decided to make a visit.

I (JP Paulus) was there for a meal, and did not expect the visit. I was just there to work on a project and enjoy a meal, but had a whole lot more.

Both Ms. Ahern and Mr. Thomas were very approachable. They also enjoyed their food.

We appreciate their business and presence in our neighborhood.

Look for Charles Thomas' report at 4:30 pm this afternoon on ABC 7 Chicago (channel 7 broadcast). You can also find it later at .

Look for Ms. Ahern's report at this afternoon on NBC 5 Chicago (channel 5 broadcast). It should also broadcast during the 4:30 show, to which Ms. Ahern regularly contributes.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

6th Ward Ald. Roderick Sawyer on CAN-TV "Political Forum"

[VIDEO] He appeared on Political Forum last Tuesday to discuss a recent troubled building seminars that the Alderman hosted. They also discussed his membership of the city council's progressive caucus and explaining what the goals of the caucus are. Also talks about school closings and bringing Whole Foods Market to Englewood. Duration is about 25 minutes.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

State Rep. Thapedi wants the State Police to patrol Englewood & Greater Grand Crossing

32nd District State Rep. Andre Thapedi is calling for the Illinois State Police to be sent into at least the two neighborhoods he represents to provide additional law enforcement support. Gov. Quinn so far seems open to sending State Police into Chicago. It does appear however that Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy isn't too keen on the idea. What do you think about this idea?

His press release is below!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sun-Times: Red-light cameras coming down at 18 Chicago intersections

Sun-Times photo
Recently I took a shot of a speed camera being erected at Abbott Park near 95th & Michigan. And that figures in this latest piece:
City Hall is removing 36 red-light cameras at 18 intersections where cameras have succeeded in reducing right-angle crashes caused by running red lights.

That will leave Chicago with 348 red-light cameras at 172 intersections.

“Automated traffic enforcement, whether through red-light or speed cameras, is about changing drivers’ behavior,” Emanuel was quoted as saying in a press release.

“Cameras at these intersections are now showing a low level of crashes and dangerous angle crashes, which means an enhanced level of safety.”

The 18 intersections where cameras are being removed either experienced no “right-angle crashes” or only one in 2012. They also have a “total crash rate” — calculated by dividing annual crashes by average daily traffic counts — of less than one percent, according to Illinois Department of Transportation statistics provided to the city last week.

The 18 intersections where red-light cameras will be removed are: Osceola and Touhy; Kedzie and Devon; Harlem and Higgins; Sheridanand Hollywood; ustin and Belmont; Cicero and Belmont; Halsted and Belmont; California and North; Wells and North; Kostner and Division; Clark and Cermak; California and 35th; California and 47th Street; Pulaski and 71st; Wentworth and 65th; Racine and 79th; 79th Street and Cottage Grove and Stony Island and 89th.

Cameras at all 18 designated intersections should be removed by Jan. 31, according to City Hall.
I hope you all are continuing to be safe drivers whether or not there are cameras around or not!