Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Reminder: Street Sweeping app can help you avoid tickets!

This is NO April Fool's joke...The following is a re-post of our blog post from April 10, regarding The Sweeparound.us app. This app will help you schedule your parking, so you can avoid street sweeping tickets. Enforcement for Streetsweeping starts tomorrow, April 1.

Chicago Public Radio recently mentioned this a web/mobile service that can help remind you of street cleanings.  Click this link then scroll down to find the story on SweepAround. (Sidenote: Dennis Haynes of Chesterfield Community Council was also featured in another segment of that day's Afternoon Shift).

SweepAround.us is a website that can provide dates as well as free text reminders to move your car.

As an example, check out
The next ones are April 15 and 16 for the shown area.

As a suggestion, no matter where you live, be a good neighbor and help add some spaces. Pull all the way up to/back to (but not crossing) signs such as handicapped parking.

When you ignore using these signs and leave several feet in front or behind you, you essentially destroy a parking space for your neighbor. That is especially difficult on families with young kids or elderly parents.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Chicago Citizen endorses Rahm Emanuel

At this time, my household can't afford a subscription, though we often pick up a copy at the Post Office.

But today, we had a special delivery of the Chicago Citizen newspaper.

On the front page was an endorsement of Emanuel. However, most of it was Rahm talking points, and quotes form the treasurer & city clerk. There seemed to be only a small paragraph of original material, stating how they didn't think Garcia's idea of having a commission review the city's finances and then come back in a reasonable amount of time with specific suggestions was a good idea.

It also interesting to note that  "Chicago for Rahm" also took out a full page ad in the middle of the newspaper.

The newspaper also endorsed 7 aldermanic candidates -- ALL incumbents.

The link for that endorsement does not seem to be working at this time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

ABC7: Emanuel, Garcia participate in South Side forum

The mayor and his run-off opponent Chuy Garcia squared off at a forum at our local Chicago State University this evening. At first as per a status from 17th Ward Alderman-elect David Moore we learned that Emanuel had planned to blow this event off. Then later decided he will indeed participate in the CSU forum.

As you see ABC7 covered this forum and we hope to find other stories and footage from the forum.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

CapFax: Fixing a city that still doesn’t work well

So Rich Miller of the Capitol Fax blog shares with us an op-ed from Crain's regarding small businesses. What does the city have to do help small business start and grow in the city? The second paragraph sums up some of my feelings regarding why we need small businesses in minority communities:
Small businesses can bring a steady stream of opportunities into Chicago's neighborhoods, infusing them with new flavors and innovative ideas, while making city streets safer and local jobs more plentiful. But Chicago's notoriously complicated regulations create bottlenecks, reducing that stream to a trickle.
I suggest you read the whole thing.

BTW, another wrinkle is to ensure that we have a healthy number of small business owners who are from minority communities. Furthermore the comments on this issue at the Capitol Fax are pretty good as well.

9th ward community meeting tonight...

9th Ward Alderman Anthony A. Beale and City Department Representatives present a 9th Ward Community Meeting
  • Tuesday, March 24, 2015 
  • 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. 
  • Pullman Presbyterian Church 
  • 550 East 103rd Street Chicago, Illinois 60628 
For more information call the 9th ward office at 773.785.1100

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sun-Times: Your guide to voting early in April 7 runoff

According to the Sun-Times as of today you're able to vote early for the April 7, 2015 runoffs. This affects the whole city because of the mayoral contest and if there was a runoff in your ward then this affects you as well. I'm looking at you in wards 16 & 21 especially.

Regardless the Sun-Times lists all the early voting sites around the city. Early voting ends on April 4, 2015

Community Job Fair April 8, 2015

We recieved this notice via e-mail from the office of State Representative Elgie Sims.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Southtown: Evergreen Plaza to be torn down for new mall

Steve Metsch, Daily Southtown
I know that this is really outside of the scope of this blog, however, surely many who live on this part of town have at least once shopped at Evergreen Plaza. The mall closed in 2013 after a steady decline of shoppers and stores.

Now Evergreen Park has some new plans for this property:
 The Plaza, the aging and nearly vacant mall in Evergreen Park, will be torn down and replaced with an outdoor mall featuring 30 to 40 stores, village officials announced this week.

Two development companies, one from suburban Detroit and one from Tampa, have formed Evergreen Park Developers, which plans to build the Evergreen Park Marketplace. Stores would be built along the west side of the property, facing Western Avenue, with four outlots intended for restaurants, according to the developer.

"We are a huge step closer to getting the Evergreen Plaza demolished and rebuilt," Mayor Jim Sexton said during Monday's night's village board meeting, where the plans were unveiled. "I know you may have heard some of that before, and I won't take 'no' for an answer.

"We're going to get this done. We have assembled a very good group of people to work together," Sexton said. "They have the finances together to get this particular job done. We've been on the cusp of getting this thing done (before), and it's finally right at our fingertips."
What would you like to see at the site of the old Evergreen Plaza or soon to become the Evergreen Park Marketplace?

Friday, March 20, 2015

WBEZ: Chicago mayor's race reveals deep divide in democratic party

Not too long ago we shared an article about the divide amongst Black voters with regards to the mayoral runoff next month between Mayor Emanuel and Commissioner Chuy Garcia. This time WBEZ looks at the divide amongst Democrats.

While recent polling suggests that the mayor is leading in this election, who else feels this could be a close election come April 7th?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Dog found in West Chesterfield

The photo above and message below we recently received from the West Chesterfield Community Association:
  • Today

    Cute little white dog found in West Chesterfield Community. (See photo.)

    The dog has a collar but no tags, it was seen near 92nd and Michigan.

    A neighbor kept this dog for a day or two but may have called Animal Cruelty.

    Call 773.251.0760 or email if you know about this dog.
I hope we get an update about this dog

Friday, March 13, 2015

Washington Post: Chicago mayor’s race is dividing the city’s black community

Well how divided is the Black electorate on the mayoral run-off between Emanuel and Garcia? Can Garcia capitalize on the Black vote or will Emanuel be able to get those votes necessary and secure a second term as mayor?

In the meanwhile, the Washington Post looks at the 2015 mayoral run-off here":
Emanuel, who dramatically outspent the competition, led the way with 46 percent of the vote, short of the majority he needed to avoid a runoff against Garcia, who took 34 percent.

Support for the mayor among black voters was weaker than it was in 2011. He won 42 percent of the vote in majority black wards, according to the Illinois Elections Data Web site, which tracks voting patterns, down from 59 percent in 2011. Garcia took about a quarter of the vote in those wards.

With Emanuel expected to perform well in predominantly white areas and Garcia expected to win the Hispanic vote, the remaining third in those wards who voted for someone else could, depending on turnout, be vital.

Garcia has been hammering the mayor for closing 49 elementary schools; he has vowed to put more police officers on the streets to combat violent crime; and he is promising to shut down the city’s red light cameras, which produce city revenue through fines.
But in his efforts to make inroads with black voters, Garcia, who would be Chicago’s first Hispanic mayor, is also confronting the city’s history of strained relations between Latinos and blacks. 
“The first rifts appeared soon after Washington’s death in 1987,” wrote radio show host Salim Muwakkil on the In These Times Web site earlier this year. “When the black base split over which alderman should succeed Washington, Latino supporters were set adrift, and the remnants of the city’s infamous Democratic Machine exploited that uncertainty.
I suppose there is a path to victory on both sides. I'd be curious so see what that path is. How does Rahm win and how does Chuy became Chicago's first latino mayor?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The mayoral run-off...

During the course of last month's campaign I hardly paid attention to the mayoral race. It was an afterthought as far as following the three wards that we attempted to cover in this cycle.

Now there is a runoff in the 21st with Alderman Brookins facing Marvin McNeil and then there's the mayor's race. For the first time in Chicago's history - or more accurately since we went to a non-partisan runoff election starting in 1999 - a sitting mayor faces a runoff. Well we sort of acknowledged that fact a while ago.

Regardless, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is facing off against Cook County Commissioner Chuy Garcia. While I might've expected Emanuel to still remain mayor we already knew that many in Chicago weren't happy with the mayor. Lately they've cited red light cameras which the Mayor has decided to shut down a few around the city recently.

Another issue that has come up is the closure of the schools in 2013. That still proves to be controversial to this day even if the reasoning may have been correct. Should schools that were underutilized remain open? Another problem with closing these schools is that now we have another vacant building in these mostly Black and Latino communities and we got to figure out what to do with them.

Regardless Emanuel is in an unenviable position now he has to convince Chicago to give him a second chance. Chuy scored an endorsement in another mayoral challenger from last month in Willie Wilson.

So now that Emanuel even after having a distinct advantage as far as fundraising wasn't able to finish this campaign last month could he prevail in early April? Can Mr. Garcia be Chicago's first Latino mayor?

A lot of people like to whine and complain and fail to hit the ballot box. The Sun-Times has some information as far as voter registration. I regret I never posted this information before because now the time to register is over, however, there is still grace period voting. With grace period voting, you would have to vote the same day you register.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Out of hibernation...

[VIDEO] Well we finally have our warm temps here in Chicago and artistmac talks about that. The snow that fell on Super Bowl Sunday this year is finally melting. Hopefully the cold temps that kept our young people out of school for at least 4 days within the past two months are nothing more than a memory.

Even better daylight savings time has passed as of this Saturday and then in the next week or so the first day of spring. It seems we've had a miserable winter this year and the end is only around the corner!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Is Chatham being gentrified?

From www.thechicagoneighborhoods.com/
Was alerted to this posting at Nextdoor, a resource we should all utilize although to be honest I haven't utilized it enough myself. Regardless a longtime neighborhood leader - Dr. Marc A. Robertson - wrote this post and decided it was worth sharing here:
  • Chatham is being Gentrified 
    Gentrification is taking place in our community. Just open up your eyes and see. How is Gentrification affecting you, your home/property value and your quality of life?

    GEN- TRI- FI-CATION (Noun) The buying and renovation of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighborhoods by upper or middle income families or individuals, thus improving property values but often displacing low-income families and small businesses.

    How Does Gentrification work and what are the signs? 

    The system, the world order (Kosmos) allows certain elements into chosen neighborhoods in order to destroy them (John 10:10). These elements are drugs, thugs, gang bangers, crime, burglary, guns, killings, prostitution, unpaid property taxes, foreclosures, deteriorated homes and unattended cars and trucks parked on our streets for months. Once this takes place, property values go down, home owners can’t refinance and investors come in and renovate the homes. They increase the property value of the homes thus increasing prices and pushing people out, while upper or middle class people start moving in. Just open up your eyes and see. Look on your block. Look around our neighborhood. I ask you! What do you see? Was Chatham like this, 20, 25 or 30 years ago? So why do you keep silent? Don’t you see what is happening or maybe you just don’t care about the inconsiderate, rude, selfish, destructive behaviors from others. We need to stop making excuses. Like Marvin Gaye, said In Inner Blues, “This ain’t livin, it makes me wanna holler and throw up both my hands.”

    Please get involved. Be informed. Please attend SOME of our community meetings and your block club meetings. If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. We need to preserve our neighborhood. Who’s there to hold up a standard of excellence and pride on our blocks, if not you, then who? We have very few visible role models, but have a lot of gangsters/thugs, harlots/pimps, Ahab’s and Jezebels. “Am I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth”? (Galatians 4:16) Just examine the facts. Look around. Open up your eyes and see. Truth stands alone. You cannot go against THE TRUTH (John14:6). Chatham is being GENTRIFIED. It is part of the system’s plan to gentrify Chatham, while most of us are sleep walking, not paying attention, don’t understand or don’t care to understand how the master plan works until it’s too late “For my people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).

    Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Our lives begin to end when we keep silent about the things that matter.”

    The Struggle Continues………….
In the earliest days of this blog we tackled this issue at least the theory that Chatham is better off with gentrification - or the dreaded G word. Regardless it's interesting that longtime Chatham leaders such as Dr. Robinson is already speaking out about it.

Do you think gentrification is the future in Chatham?

Friday, March 6, 2015

Are We Our Brothers Keeper: GEO Reentry Services

Location: 8007 South Cottage Grove Avenue, Chicago, IL 60619, USA

I've been holding back on writing a post on this because its too important of an issue in our community to not have all the facts. While I understand the concerns of the community, the initial post and subsequent comments frankly straddle the line of fear mongering. I could not understand the comments as the Safer Foundation, a non for profit, operated on 73rd Cottage Grove for a number of years without incident.

I took upon myself to investigate and spoke to Alderman Sawyer and my contacts in the 8th ward. During my conversation I learned that the office building at 8001-8007 S. Cottage IS NOT a state owned building but several state agencies rent from a private owner No one was aware of the opening other than seeing the press release from Ms. Chinta Strausberg. I reached out to her and Mr. Emanuel Barr. Mr. Barr is the Outreach and Operations manager for GEO Reentry Services and the son of the late Rev. Leonard Barr who was a community activist in the Chatham community for over 25 years. I received a response to my emails from both Ms. Strausberg and Mr. Barr. Mr. Barr and I agreed to meet and speak about GEO Reentry services.

I have researched the "reentry services" field in the past when there was talk of individuals wanting to open "transitional" (Halfway Houses) in the community. I found that some of the largest non for profits such as Salvation Army were the largest providers of transitional housing and other related services. I googled GEO and found that they were a FOR Profit company and was involved in a number of states as well as in a number of lines of businesses that serve the corrections industry.

On Thursday, March 5th I met with Mr. Barr at the Chatham office of GEO Reentry. As I walked toward the building I was aware that the Illinois Department of Human Services had offices on the Cottage Grove side of the building but was not aware of what State of Illinois department had offices on the rear side. As I walked up I saw two entrances both with signs on the door reading Department of Corrections. I entered the first door and within the vestibule was GEO Reentry Services offices.

The offices were modern and I was greeted by a receptionist behind glass. Entry to the office required that you be buzzed in. Mr. Barr and I greeted each other and I we got into some questions. I admit I was not aware that the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) was leasing space but was told they had been there for the past 15 years. I also asked about what was GEO Reentry Services and what made them different than some of the other organizations. GEO Reentry is a FOR PROFIT and takes a different approach to reentry services than the non profits such as Safer Foundation and others. Per Barr, GEO takes a more holistic approach to working with their clients. They don't believe that propping up an individual to get a job is productive unless the individual mindset is to be productive and has made the steps necessary to keep the job. As it was explained unless you get rid of the "stinkin thinkin" all your other efforts are useless. Most of the clients are non violent offenders (Drugs, theft, etc) who are in violation of their parole and risk going back into IDOC custody. Their parole officers refer them to GEO Reentry as a way to get them back on track. The facility has rules with the main one no earrings, hats or jewelry can be worn inside the facility. This stops any one from making an assumption that another was wearing gang paraphernalia. Also, foul language and smoking is not permitted. Clients are drug tested (dropping) and by breathalyzer for alcohol. Clients are assessed and put on an individualized services program that could last from 3-9 months. Services that GEO offers their clients are employment assistance, educational assistance, anger management , substance abuse and individual cognitive behavioral treatment (ICBT) services are all on site. Those individuals that require additional services are referred to outside agencies. I toured the facility and the space was modern and well equipped. The facility has a computer lab that serves several purposes that include, job search/resume preparation, situation simulation programs and educational programs. There is a multipurpose room that can be divided to provide two classrooms. The facility was build out under the supervision of Mr. Barr who stated he was compelled to make it the best it could be because he wanted the best for the community in which he was raised.

We talked about the emails and post that have been swirling around. Mr. Barr stated first he is from Chatham and still has relatives and he was asked to take the Outreach/Operation manager position in October and they started construction in December and he oversaw the construction from start to finish. He explained that his company is a contractor for the Illinois Department of Corrections and as a contractor,GEO’s role is to satisfy the requests of their customer. The reason why the services were requested for Chatham is because zip code 60619 has a large number of individuals currently on parole. He further stated that the build out had nothing to do with Alderman Michelle Harris(8), Alderman Roderick Sawyer (6) or state officials Elgie Sims, Marcus Evans, or Donne Trotter. It was a state request for services to this population and nothing more. That said, Barr has strong believes that engaging ongoing community support is a part of the success of any underserved population and has invited the elected officials to tour the site and find ways to connect the community. The biggest goal is to change the thinking of the participants and to help them become contributing members of the area, and not recidivating back in to prison. So there was and is no complicit activities going on with any elected official.

I also explained the communities concerns about "clients" loitering. He explained that although they are using their services the clients are still under supervision of the IDOC parole division and they would be in violation by engaging in such an activity. Lastly, I asked about GEO becoming a true community partner and Mr. Barr was more than happy to oblige. I asked about the organization creating a community advisory committee, working with Mather and the Department of Aging on helping seniors cope with love ones on probation and also working with the community on the Nuway situation. On all, Mr. Barr was open and was willing to sit down and get to work. Currently, the center is only servicing 7 individuals since they opened earlier this week, but expect to have up to 100. He stated that there may be employment opportunities there as well at other facilities and would share them with the community as they arise.

Mr. Barr again stated the community was welcome to come and tour the facility as well as he wanted to come to the GCA meeting on the 21st to discuss GEO Reentry. I forwarded his request to Mr. Thomas.

My bottom line is we must understand that we cannot export our problems to other communities anymore, communities such as Uptown are going through gentrification and are pushing out social service providers with exorbitant rents. We must commit to an A squared solution. First acknowledge then take action. We cannot continue to blame the loiterers along 79th Street and along Cottage Grove on the methadone clinic.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Chatham gets new Reentry Service Center

We received the following press release:
  • Chicago, IL -- In an effort to heal a broken community, a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony will be held Tuesday, March 3rd from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the GEO Reentry Service Center, 8007 So. Cottage Grove Avenue in Suite A located in the Chatham community.

    The son of the late Rev. Leonard Barr, Emanuel Barr, Outreach and Operations manager for the Center, said the ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. and that the Center is a one-stop shop for men and women who are on parole.

    GEO Reentry Services supports the work of the Illinois Department of Corrections Barr said the new office would provide services including job development, resources and reentry skills including resume building, dress for success, education with a full time employment and education coordinator to support the efforts.

    “These skills will equip them to be contributing citizens as they reintegrate into the community,” said Barr.

    GEO Reentry Services has been in Illinois since 1997 with six offices in Illinois: East St. Louis, Decatur, Rockford, Chicago Heights, West Fulton and now in Chatham.

    The opening of the Chatham office, he said, “Is an opportunity to help the community. My father was a community activist who worked with African American churches. That’s my DNA. The work we do serves to create a better outcome for these returning citizens as well as public safety on the South Side of Chicago.”

    “Having the ability to offer services that contribute to the healing of the community is redemptive work particularly in under served communities,” said Barr. “Reducing recidivism is the goal of our work which we hope will change the landscape of incarceration and offer safer and healthier communities.”

    The area manager for GEO Reentry is Kim Cajicek from Springfield.

Monday, March 2, 2015

FYI: Bennett Elementary Parent Advisory Council Meeting

Bennett School - 10112 S. Prairie Ave.
 Received this e-mail on Sunday. Hopefully there is some interest in attending this meeting:
  • Bennett Elementary Parent Advisory Council is sending an invitation to the Roseland community organizer to join our first meeting on March 6, 2015 at 6pm. As the new chairwoman, I will like to provide our parents with the best support from Bennett P.A.C, 9th Ward Alderman, and community organizers of Roseland Heights.

    Bennett Elementary Parent Advisory Council Meeting
    Bennett Elementary School
    10112 S. Prairie Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60628
    March 6, 2015
    6:00 pm

    Thank you,

    P.A.C Chairwoman
    Mattie Carter
    M.A. Geography Economic Development
    Certified Community Developer