Friday, May 30, 2014

Mechanics: I Ran for Local School Council and Maybe I Even Won!

The author of this article - Phil Huckleberry - discusses his experience as a candidate for his neighborhood school's LSC. He apparently won the election, but discovered at a recent meeting that the results have been challenged. That school's LSC won't meeting until next year after new elections, and the school's LSC functions would be governed instead by CPS' central office. Something pertinent Mr. Huckleberry said in his piece:
Now, this story isn't about me and my awe-inspiring 21 votes. It's not about whether or not there was some sort of problem with the election.

This is a story about bureaucracy.

I can rail against charter schools or say negative things about the mayor just like a lot of people who write words that get put on the Internet. I can talk about how great Karen Lewis is just like the next cherished Chicago journalist.

But here is the crux of the situation: Bureaucracies put bureaucracy first. And the reality is that Chicago Public Schools is a horrifically clunky bureaucracy, steeped in nonsensical inefficiencies, ultimately overseen by an unelected board who are themselves nothing more than hand-picked highly privileged bureaucrats. The system is failing its students because the system is more important than the students.

There are a lot of smart and dedicated administrators within CPS. But things are never truly going to turn around so long as everything is about CPS and not about the actual students.
I suggest you read the whole thing, and of course we hope to hear your thoughts on this.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Russ Stewart: "Short sale" epidemic depresses home values

While local political columnist Russ Stewart seems focused on the northwest part of the city & suburbs, it makes me wonder if this "epidemic" is also seen on this part of town. Areas of Chicago's south side have of course been affected by the real estate bust of the last 5 or so years. Is the real estate market OK on this part of town? Anyone have any information?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Strausberg: Pfleger says no one shot or wounded last night is proof ‘We can do this’ #putthegunsdown

Fr. Michael Pfleger
An interesting account written by Chinta Strausberg for those events connected with #PutTheGunsDown from last Friday. Here's hoping everyone had a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Politco Mag: School’s Out Forever

Found this Politico Magazine photo slideshow via Instapundit. Here's a basic description:
Jessica Rodrigue, a Chicago-based photographer, visited the schools in her own city last summer to document the closures. Her photos of moving boxes, empty auditoriums and papered-over signs reflect the suddenness of the change that threw so many young lives into uncertainty.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Map to find an event for #putthegunsdown

In addition to the event posted by Levois this morning, the Mayor's Office posted a link with a map for all activities related to this event.

It's a kickoff, and there are MANY activities churches and many other organizations can do, not just tonight, but throughout the summer.

5th District Candle Light Peace Rally #putthegunsdown

This rally will take place on tonight from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM at 113th & Michigan. An event such as this is scheduled to take place at roughly the same time in neighborhoods throughout the city of Chicago. Please let us know if you're holding such an event in your neighborhood feel free to mention to us on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

CapitolFax: Black activist pastor endorses Oberweis

Jim Oberweis left & Rev. Corey Brooks right via Chicago Tribune

We've kept an eye on Rev. Corey Brooks who for 90 days in 2012 lived on a rooftoop of a former hotel in a bid to successfully purchase the property has announced his support for GOP US Senate candidate Jim Oberweis who current serves in the Illinois state Senate. Oberweis faces Democratic US Sen. Dick Durbin. I will give Oberweis credit for coming to the community this past weekend volunteering for Rev. Brooks' anti-crime program #BrothersOnTheBlock.

Would this make a difference in who you'd vote for in November for US Senate?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

3rd Police District Take Back the Streets Event

Location: 6300 South Vernon Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637, USA

3rd District Take Back the Streets Event

Calling All Residents"
Within the 003rd District Community
The Chicago Police Department 003rd District
Challenges you
~ To~ "A Positive Loitering"
If you are absolutely:
Tired of Gang Activity
Tired of Robberies
Tired of The Senseless Shootings

When: Friday, May 23, 2014
Where: 6300 S. Vernon Avenue
Time: 6:30p.m. Sharp!!

CSU Presidential Library Support Requested

We were aware of some meetings regarding the future Barack Obama Presidential Library as it pertains to Chicago State University. While Mayor Rahm Emanuel is encouraging a single bid for the city to become home to a library many sites in Chicago are seeking one especially the President's former employer University of Chicago.

You can check out Curbed Chicago's coverage of Obama's Presidential Library Chicago State's bid for the library. The contents of the e-mail you will see below.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

WBEZ: Stroger defends new job at City Hall

Todd Stroger
Former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger is back in the news again. This time he's taking a consulting gig with 21st Ward Alderman Howard Brookins.
He’s tried selling life insurance, peddling overseas medical procedures and working for a trucking company.

But now, former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger - a self-described political “lightning rod” - is defending his latest gig: working as a consultant to an influential aldermen at Chicago’s City Hall.

Despite the controversies that have surrounded him since leaving office in 2011, Stroger told WBEZ on Tuesday that he believes he’s more than qualified to work as a consultant for his one-time political ally, 21st Ward Alderman Howard Brookins.

“Are you kidding? I think I deserve a better job than this,” Stroger said when asked whether he was qualified for the $25,000 consulting contract work, pointing to his long career in city, county and state government.

“I don’t think anybody ever asked Mayor Daley what makes him qualified to do the five things he’s doing now,” Stroger said, referring to longtime Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, who has held down several paying jobs since leaving office in 2011. “[Look] at my resume, which most people don’t. I think most people, especially the newspapers, look at my last name. And then they say, ‘Oh, well he’s a Stroger, so he shouldn’t be qualified for anything.’”

Sunday, May 18, 2014

75th/King Drive: What would you like to see here?

After many false starts the corner that once housed not only a dollar store, but also the offices of State Representative Andre Thapedi has finally been demolished after having been destroyed in a fire in January. There were plenty of people who were eager to see this corner finally cleared with neighbors complaining about it. Even elicited a report from CBS 2 that aired last month!

The pic above was posted at both Concerned Citizens of Chatham and our FB page with one simple question: What would you like to see here? It's probably about time that we bring back this feature and this corner would be a great spot.

75th Street was known as a "Black Wall Street" is also known for many restaurants. Army & Lou's is still located near 75th/King Drive although I understand the restaurant is still closed. Of course down the street to the west is Lem's BBQ and Brown Sugar Bakery. Some of the comments to both neighborhood FB pages have suggested a restaurant, retail, a garden, youth services center, job skills program, etc.

In any case, what would you like to see at this spot?

ALSO, I would like to embed both posts below to show the comments regarding this corner.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Local events on Saturday, May 17

Location: Ephphatha Lutheran Church of the Deaf, 7956 South Doctor Martin Luther King Junior Drive, Chicago, IL 60619, USA
There are 2 events happening tomorrow, Saturday May 17.

Chatham Fields Lutheran Church, in cooperation with Ephphatha Lutheran Church of the Deaf, will hold a yard sale, starting at 9am.  The event will be held at Ephphatha at 7956 S. King Drive (80th & King Drive).

The second event will start at approximately noon, literally down the street. It is New Life Covenant SouthEast's annual "Prayer on the 9", going all along 79th from near their property on Dobson to the El.

There has been criticism of the prayer, but this can be a good start, and an opportunity to meet with people who might be willing to create a continued presence on the streets, and help its healing.

Send us your photos from these events, or also other events that are happening this summer. you can e-mail them to

Editorial: Chicago's plastic bag ban is a step back in clean-city efforts

If you have signed onto Ald. Roderick Sawyer's campaign e-mail list you may have gotten wind of this editorial the Alderman wrote with his colleague Ald. Nick Sposato recently published by Crain's. Earlier this month the Chicago City Council banned the use of plastic bags by businesses. Sawyer and Sposato argue that this ordinance is bad for business! What do you think?

Also because the editorial is likely behind a paywall over at Crain's website, you can also read the full editorial here.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

So will something come to the 71st/Jeffrey space?

Vacant 71st/Jeffrey space by Eric Allix Rogers/flickr

Here at The Sixth Ward, we've kept our eye on the Mariano's that's expected to come to the Bronzeville neighborhood. It's our way of keeping on eye on this so-called "food desert", the lack of access to full-service grocery stores in many "minority" neighborhoods around the city. We could especially focus on the south side of town.

So while it appears Mariano's corporate owner Roundy's has finally sealed the deal on coming to 39th/King Drive - construction expected to commence next year - a south side neighborhood lost their local Dominick's store and still waiting for a tenant to take it's place. In fact, 5th Ward Ald. Leslie Hairston recently tore into Mayor Rahm Emanuel over this:
Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said Wednesday she feels “like I’m living in a part of the city that’s been cordoned off” after Mariano’s unveiled plans to build a new store in Bronzeville while a shuttered Dominick’s in South Shore remains vacant.

Hairston said she’s so incensed by Emanuel’s failure to go to bat for South Shore — and, what she calls Emanuel’s North Side-centric development efforts — she’s considering running for mayor, emboldened by a Chicago Sun-Times poll that shows Emanuel with support from just 29 percent of those surveyed.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Roundy’s CEO Bob Mariano have scheduled a news conference to tout the new store at 39th and King Drive that’s expected to start construction next year, create 400 jobs and “expand access to healthy food options.”

That only pours salt on Hairston’s political wound. She’s been told that Mariano’s isn’t interested in the empty grocery store at 71st and Jeffrey Boulevard, but she has not been told why. She’s still sitting there with Chicago’s only shuttered Dominick’s that has yet to find a replacement grocer.

“I feel like I’m living in a part of the city that’s been cordoned off. Every day, I drive by the vacant Dominicks’s in Jeffery Plaza and I’m wondering if we’re ever going to get a place to shop,” Hairston said.
She's probably taking swipes at the mayor for this reason:
Emanuel formed a “grocery task force” in December — and asked Hairston to co-chair it — to find new operators for Chicago’s shuttered Dominick’s stores. But, Hairston accused the mayor of failing to go to bat for South Shore.

“He should work harder to make sure there is a grocery store in Jeffery Plaza. He needs to put the same type of energy and effort [into that] that he is putting into building a school named after the President from my ward” on the North Side, Hairston said. Hairston was just getting warmed up about Emanuel’s controversial plan to use $60 million in tax increment financing funds to build a new selective enrollment high school named after President Barack Obama near Walter Payton College Prep. 
Ah so there was a grocery task force formed by the Mayor to find new tenants or uses for the many vacant Dominick's stores around the city. And the South Shore store on 71st remains vacant today!

Either way there is hope that another retailer could be interested in the space and hopefully there might be a new tenant within three months:
Shervin Mateen, CEO of Los Angeles-based real estate firm Cannon Commercial, said the company and its agent have been talking to a number of supermarket operators about that remaining city location. His company is evaluating which retailer could be best for the space with the city's involvement, he said. A number of unnamed companies are interested and in talks, Mateen said.

"We're hopeful that within the next three months the selection will be made," Mateen said.

Mateen said his company would prefer to lease the vacant space at the Jeffery Plaza shopping center in South Shore to a retailer that sells groceries.
While I can understand Ald. Hairston's South Side rhetoric, this is one possible reason why the South Short Dominick's store remains vacant:
The store, at roughly 62,000 square-feet, might be too big for some local operators to fill, and some people involved in the industry have suggested splitting the space in order to lease at least some of it to a smaller operator. However, Mateen said his company would prefer to lease out the space "in its entirety."

"It needs a bigger-sized operator in order to digest this size," Mateen said.

Once a company is chosen to take over the lease, Mateen said he expects quite a bit of improvement will need to be made, with the costs shared between the retailer and his company.

There is still another year left on California-based Safeway's lease for the store, at 2101 E. 71st, Mateen said.
I also remember that there is a Jewel on 75th/Stony Island so perhaps that part of the city isn't served by a grocer. Still what would you like to see at the 71st/Jeffrey site as far as a grocery store goes?

Sun-Times: Hundreds of parcels may be needed for Red Line extension: CTA

The Sun-Times wrote about Tuesday night's Red Line extension meeting at Palmer Park:
About 200 Chicagoans showed up Tuesday night at the Palmer Park Gym, 201 E. 111th St., to view and discuss about two dozen poster boards outlining the project.

“There was a high level of interest,’’ said CTA spokesman Steve Mayberry. “Folks wanted as much information as they could get.’’

One board in particular outlined what may be the most controversial numbers associated with the project — how many parcels would have to be seized to extend the Red Line to 130th Street from its current endpoint at 95th Street.

The CTA in 2009 selected a “preferred” route down the middle of I-57 to 98th St., and then alongside existing Union Pacific tracks to 130th.

Under that “preferred” route, if an elevated were built east of the UP tracks, a maximum of 259 parcels would need to be purchased, 95 of them residential, the poster board indicated.

If an elevated were built west of the UP tracks, up to 195 parcels would need to be purchased, 30 of them residential.
In the article, they did go over the other alternatives such as routing the extension along Halsted Street and bus rapid-transit along Michigan Avenue from 95th and both alternatives meant fewer displacements of residential parcels, however it was noted:
CTA Red Line project manager Carole Morey said all alternatives are “on equal footing” and further engineering analysis could reduce some displacements. The community will be asked for input at public hearings after an environmental assessment of each option is completed in 2015, she said.

At that time, Morey said, some citizens may want to endorse alternatives that displace fewer people.

“I think it’s too early to reach any conclusions,’’ Morey said. “We really need to hear from the community and hear their concerns.’’
 Also noted in the article in discussing the purchasing residential parcels of land, there is no estimate on how many people would be displaced by any CTA purchases.

As always refer to the CTA's Red Line extension page for more information! Also here's what those presentation boards looked like at the meeting if you weren't able to make it to Tuesday night's meeting.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Two meetings coming up today

I apologize for this short notice. I've been knowing about the meeting for the Red Line extension but have been seemingly slow on this trigger. I'm sure it was mentioned here, but if it wasn't then perhaps it wasn't at the forefront of my mind as I thought.

The information here was added with a note expressing the importance of showing strong attendance numbers. Hopefully that could make the news and even without that at least more people will know and talk about this project.

BTW, the Tribune made note of today's open house meeting so it's certainly getting some press. Perhaps more if people show up to it!

CTA is be ready to share their preliminary findings with the public at this Red Line Extension open house in May 13 2014.
After incorporating public feedback from the open house, the Draft EIS (Environmental Impact Study) will be published in 2015.
  • Learn more about the proposed alternatives
  • Hear about anticipated project benefits and impacts
  • Have the opportunity to provide feedback 
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Palmer Park Gymnasium
201 E. 111th Street
Chicago, IL 60628
And Chicago State University has a meeting regarding their bid for President Obama's Presidential Library:
Please join a new dynamic in Community Cultural Exchange.

Chicago State University is bidding for a chance to bring the Barack Obama Library to
the Southside.

Presidential Libraries are traditionally housed in Universities and they bring amazing value.


Our current President’s career as a Political Organizer began in Roseland.

CSU is in the footprint or president Obama's path from Roseland, to the Presidency of the United States of America.

THIS BID with YOUR INPUT could be worth $500,000,000 in improvements to our community.

CSU needs you on their Executive Advisory Community Board.

Let’s bring the Barack Obama Library to the Southside.

Please join us for a lite working supper:

Tuesday May 13, 2014 at 6 p.m. Chicago State University New Academic Library 4th Floor Auditorium 9501 South King Drive at St Lawrence Ave Entrance

RSVP: Wanda Wright –email: wwright @  

( Parking will be provided to those that RSVP only. )
Again sorry for the late notice of these events, however, I hope that you would be able to attend one if not both of these very important meetings this evening.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Progress IL: No Trauma Center, No Obama Presidential Library

Overtime on this blog, we have written about the need for a trauma center on the south side. The last time you might have seen a story here about that was in November when there had been a march highlighting this issue. Activists on the south side had a meeting regarding a trauma center recently:
A coalition of South Side residents and community groups is pushing back against the University of Chicago over its bid for the coveted Barack Obama presidential library and museum.

At a townhall meeting Thursday night, dozens of South Side residents delivered a stern message to the university: No trauma center, no Obama library.

Members of the Trauma Care Coalition, which hosted Thursday's meeting, said the university has an obligation to its community to improve access to emergency health services. If the university is interested in building the much sought-after Obama library, it should also make reopening its adult trauma center a top priority, according to the South Side activists.

The University of Chicago opened a Level 1 adult trauma center back in 1986, but closed it in 1988 in an effort to cut costs. Currently, there are no Level 1 adult trauma facilities on the city’s South Side. And that forces seriously injured people to travel miles away to other parts of the city for medical care.

The University of Chicago currently runs a trauma center for children up to age 16 at Comer Children’s Hospital, and activists have been demanding that the age limit for those accepted at the facility be raised to 21.

"We're not against the Obama library because we feel like it will bring great resources to the neighborhood, but we also feel that (university officials) need to get their priorities straight," said Trauma Care Coalition member Victoria Crider, a leader with Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY). "Before they can build such a prestigious attraction, they need to prioritize the lives of the young black people who are dying around them. We've been knocking on the university's door to get a trauma center for almost four years, and we've barely got their attention."

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Water Main down just West of King Drive!

Location: 8000 South King Drive, Chicago, IL 60619, USA
A couple of Tweets from the Alderman's office, at 3:30pm this afternoon:

A Water Main was hit in #Chatham, water service will be interrupted from 79th - 81st west of King Dr until Wed, call 311 for info

Reports are that the outage should not extend past Prairie but please let me know if your service is affected.

More info when available.

You can also check the Alderman's Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Update (after talking with someone from the Dept. of Environment): The homes affected are on the 8000block of King Drive (possible 7900 & 8100 blocks). 200,000 gallons of water filled an excavation hole where 6 gas tanks had been removed.  The owner of the property wanted to make sure the extra possible contaminated dirt was removed, but miscommunication resulted in the water main being destroyed.

Residents can get emergency water today.  Call 311, or, if crews are still there, check in with them at the SW corner of 80th & King.  The plan is re-route the lines from other water mains, so that residents water will not be affected.  If you are able to run your water, then everything is fine (no worries about contaminated water). If it is not, then they are still working on it. Water won't be released into residents homes until safe.

For the actual repair, they have to drain the water from the pit, and only then can Department of Water crews fix the problem. The owner of the property will have to pay for that drainage (the crew at 5pm would take a week with their equipment).  That drainage will haul the water away, as it is unknown if it is contaminated. (Normal leaks would be drained into local sewage systems)

It's been a crazy 24 hours with this damage as well as yesterday's mishap with the dump truck, which took out power lines on the other side of King Drive.

DNA Info: Humboldt Park's Future As Seen By 'Artistic' Developer

Remember at various points last year, there were a series of posts about buildings, corners, and lots where I asked the question: what would you like to see here? In fact the last we did was regarding 63rd & Halsted in light of the news about Whole Foods Market coming to Englewood.

This I find this article over at DNA Info and see that someone had a vision for their community and took action on it. Now he's creating an economic hub that he hopes would turn around his neighborhood of Humboldt Park on the north side. Question is do we have such a person(s) with a vision similar to his on the south side?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Ventra transition deadline date

This press release was published on April 28, but we should already know that day is coming. The deadlines were pushed back to this point last year after there were reports of mishaps with the Ventra equipment. And now CTA is ready to move forward and today May 1st the changes in fare media has commenced:
The CTA and Pace remind customers that as of this Thursday, May 1, they will no longer be able to do the following, as part of the transition to the new Ventra fare payment system:
  • CTA customers will no longer be able to buy new magnetic stripe fare cards
  • Customers will no longer be able to autoload/reload their Chicago Card/Chicago Card Plus
Most customers have already switched to Ventra, with 86 percent of all CTA rides and 61 percent of Pace rides now taken with Ventra.
If you follow the press release there is more information for those customers who need to change to the Ventra system. On June 1st: "customers can no longer reload magnetic stripe cards or use Chicago Card/Chicago Card Plus. CTA and Pace will complete the full transition to Ventra on July 1."