Sunday, May 31, 2015

CapitolFax: It’s more than just body cams

What you see above is an example what we could see on those police officers who choose to wear these body cameras. Rich Miller let's us know that some legislation regarding body cams recently passed by the General Assembly in Springfield. The law requires officers to record any incident with the public although there are some moments where police are allowed to turn them off. Do you think there will be benefits with body cameras on police?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Is it time for garbage collection fees?

So the new chairman of the city council Black caucus has a new idea about gaining revenues from garbage collection. I wonder what happened to his idea of a commuter tax:
Chicago homeowners have managed to avoid suburban-style garbage collection fees, but those “spoiled” days may be coming to an end, the newly elected chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus said.

“I hate to say it. I know there’ll be a lot of pushback. But a nominal fee may be something we have to look at” to solve the $30 billion pension crisis, said Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th).

“All over the country and in smaller municipalities, they do pay for garbage collection. In Chicago, free garbage collection is something we’ve become accustomed to. But just like not having a sales tax on services, those days may be over. We have to look at it to balance the books.”

Four years ago, Inspector General Joe Ferguson estimated that a volume-based, “pay-as-you-throw” garbage collection fee could generate as much as $125 million a year for the cash-strapped city. Chicago could raise an additional $18 million a year by imposing a blue cart recycling fee, Ferguson said then.

Emanuel ignored both ideas, apparently concerned it would be viewed as a back-door property tax increase.

Monday, May 25, 2015

May 9th ward community meeting

You may have received these notices if you've signed up for Ald. Beale's e-mail list.
  • 9th Ward Alderman Anthony A. Beale and City Department Representatives present a 9th Ward Community Meeting Tuesday, May 26, 2015
    6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

    Pullman Presbyterian Church
    550 East 103rd Street
    Chicago, Illinois 60628
Flyer below

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Park Manor Inn: What's Really Going On

Location: 7621 South State Street, Chicago, IL 60619, USA
Park Manor Inn: What is Really Going On
On Friday, May 15, attorneys for Mr. Herb Hedgeman and Hedgeman Development filed an application for a special use permit to develop the Park Manor Inn at 76th State Street.
The process of applying for a special use permit is a requirement to build a hotel in the City of Chicago. In addition, the hotel would also have to receive City of Chicago City Council approval.
First, Alderman Roderick Sawyer has stated he has not endorsed this project and this action is strictly initiated by Mr. Hedgeman,. Alderman Sawyer's main issue is that Mr. Hedgeman refuses to place a flag(national brand) on the property. Also, no community organization has endorsed this project as many questions have not been answered. Some of the community resident concerns that have not been addressed that include but not limited to
1. The lot stays filthy and he refuses to clean. Neighbors want lot clean and free of weeds and debris.
2. Rendering looks like a State Street project building. Want architectural elements added to exterior to make property attractive.
3. Parking is inadequate, current plan only includes 45 parking spaces. Residents want one to one parking to rooms.
4. Clarification of management. Residents want clarification as to who is going to manage. Preference is for management company currently managing South Loop Hotel to manage this one and Mr Hedgeman have no day to day involvement.
5.Branding- current proposal includes no branding. Residents want a flag on the hotel.
6. Economic Benefit- presentation gave vague answers. Residents want reports from City of Chicago office of tourism and McPier Authority as to the economic impact this hotel might or might not have.
7. Community Benefit- presentation skirted issue. Who will be the builders and what percentage of construction jobs will go to community residents and African Americans in general.
8. Development Team- Mr. Hedgeman stated he and Mr. Higginbottom are the principals. Residents want to know and meet all parties who allege they are part of development team.
9. Barbara Ann/Sportsman Motels- residents want clarification on the status of a sale of the Sportsman and Barbara Ann.

A recap of the previous meeting is as follows…/recap-of-t…
Because the application has been filed it will require another community meeting. Per the city requirements residents who live within 500-100 ft have to be notified by mail. Also, there will be a hearing with the zoning board. Based on previous decisions the board takes community input seriously. The zoning change for EZ Pawn was denied after the community stated it was not wanted.
Since the first meeting there has been quite a bit of activity surrounding hotels on the southside that question the viability of this project. There are two new developments being built/renovated north of this development. Those developments are:
1. The former Lakeshore Inn (49th Lake Shore Drive) is going through a multi million dolaare renovation and now flying the Laquinta flag.
2. Rumors that the Hilton Corp will develop a property under one of their flags at 59th Cottage Grove.
These two developments which are closer to McCormick Place make it difficult for the Park Manor Inn to garner any overflow business from conventions and trade shows.
While these developments are in the works, the political climate has changed as well. With the remap taking place, Mr. Hedgeman faces new opposition from a new alderman over his controversial Sportman Motel property. The Sportsman property is now in Alderman Ariel E. Reboyras(30th). The property was an issue in that recent aldermanic race. Alderman Reboyras and other southwest side alderman can use various parliamentary procedures to block a city council vote and testify at any hearings.
With all these issues it makes some question why is Mr. Hedgeman pushing the issue? Per sources, it may be because it is alleged that a Chatham resident who alleged that he was an emissary for a political candidate and could deliver community support if Mr. Hedgeman supported his candidate and gave construction contracts to certain companies/individuals.
There are a lot of questions that need to asked at the meeting and hearing. So what do you think?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ald. Sawyer new chairman of the city council Black caucus
This press release was shared by Aldertrack this afternoon. Here's Ald. Roderick Sawyer's goals as the new chair:
Sawyer said his primary goals as Black Caucus Chair are to increase the percentages of African-American contractors doing business with City government, to improve community-police relations, and to ensure fair access to high-quality public schools in every neighborhood.
 Also consider that this past Monday Rahm Emanuel and the other elected city officials in addition to the city council had been inaugurated. I'm definitely looking for the many changes and realignments on the city council now that everyone is officially in office.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Inside an untouched apartment building in Wicker Park
Piper Robbins ig
I can only imagine what's in some of the buildings of our community that have been boarded up and abandoned. And hopefully instead of demolishing them we can build them up as places to not only live, but to do business as well. Check out this building out of Wicker Park:
The manager of a vintage-inspired camera shop on Milwaukee Avenue that's located at the base of an apartment building untouched since the 1970s got a peek into the structure's history on Thursday.

The apartments have mustard green and white doors, with wallpaper adorned with roses, according to images posted to Piper Robbins' Instagram.

"It feels almost like someone was getting ready to go to work one day, but never came back home," said Piper Robbins, owner of the Emulsion Gallery and Lomography Embassy Store, 1422 N. Milwaukee Ave.

The 1890s-era building was sold for $4.2 million in March to Cedar Street Co., which has converted several distressed Uptown and Far North Side vintage buildings into residential dwellings

Cedar Street co-owner Jay Michael previously said he plans to reopen the apartments, mostly renovated into one-bedroom convertibles between 400 and 600 square feet, next spring.
There are more pics also over at the DNA Info article.

Friday, May 15, 2015

So Spike Lee had a press conference outside of St. Sabina #Chiraq

Yesterday famed film director Spike Lee held a press conference outside of St. Sabina - where a casting call was held for extras - to discuss the Chiraq production. Above is a video from our local ABC affiliate and below I quote from Time magazine:
Spike Lee sought on Thursday to squash some rumors that have been swirling about his upcoming film on the violence that plagues parts of Chicago.

“A lot of things have been said about the film by people who know nothing about the film,” the famed director said during a news conference at St. Sabina Catholic Church. “We felt it was appropriate that we say what the narrative is, the filmmakers, the people who are doing this. Not the people that’s judging from afar.”

The film, which is reportedly titled “Chiraq”—though Lee referred to this as the “so-called-title”—has drawn the ire of city officials because it compares the city’s violence to the war zones of Iraq. Mayor Rahm Emanuel reportedly expressed his disdain for the title to Lee himself. According to NBC Chicago, Alderman Will Burns also called for the city council to cut Lee’s tax break unless he changes the film’s title. The moniker Chiraq was popularized by Chicago rappers Chief Keef and later used by stars like Kanye West, who was also raised in the Windy City.
Where this comes from I have no idea, but my eyes kind of glazed over when I saw this...
However, earlier this week ScreenDaily reported that the script is a modern-day re-imagining of the ancient Greek comedy “Lysistrata.” In the bawdy original by Aristophanes, the women of Greece band together and withhold sex until their men put an end to war. The play is no escapist jape, but rather a savvy use of comedy to address serious themes about the extreme toll violence has on the men who fight and their families at home.

Lee’s version (which is being co-written by Kevin Willmott, a filmmaker out of the University of Kansas) would purportedly update the action and set it in Chicago. If you're familiar with the original play, this concept doesn't seem outlandish. Or irresponsible in its treatment of violence. But how many people are indeed familiar with this Aristophanes work? It's far from obscure but it's not necessarily widely known and hasn't been produced in Chicago for at least 10 years, if not longer.
And you know I'm hoping this is some rumor or just some smokescreen. Although at the same time if this could be another message movie could set it apart. I'd be interested to see how this would work.

Lee is right when he says that if you don't like it you don't like it, but give the film a chance!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Is Chicago becoming Detroit?

IMHO, I think Chicago is a long way from that fate. That doesn't mean however that people out there still don't believe this regardless. Rich Miller of the CapFax does a good round-up today. Lately in the news we've been hearing about pensions, a court case, and a bond rating downgrade.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Can Old World Churches Survive in "New" Black Communities

Location: 341 East 74th Street, Chicago, IL 60619, USA
Can Old World Churches Survive in "New" Black Communities

In approximately 30 days St. Dorothy Catholic Elementary School, at 450 E 78th Street, will close its doors after graduating several thousand students and operating 98 years. In October 2014 the Chicago Archdiocese announced that St. Dorothy would close and merge with St. Coumbanus to create Augustus Tolton Academy. The Tolton Academy will be housed at the former St. Columbanus School building. Also, it was recently announced that Salem Lutheran Church, 318 E. 74th, who recently celebrated their 145th anniversary, has been placed under receivership. The church is under the receivership of the Northern Illinois Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. The receiver attempting to shore up the church finances sold "Salem House". Salem House, which is a brick bungalow adjacent to the church, was used for meeting space, social services and other uses. The house was donated to the church over 30 years ago.

Both of these churches have survived racial and ethnic changes over the years but with the recent major changes the question has to be asked. Can these churches survive? 

Both Salem and St. Dorothy have dwindling congregations as well as dwindling contributions. Both churches hosted boy and girl scouts and teen clubs. Some in this community were exposed to sports such as skiing with their involvement in these churches.

Fast forward to today and boy and girl scouts are considered out of touch with today's youth and many have changed their views on assimilation. Many African Americans who moved to Chatham and Park Manor started to attend catholic and Lutheran churches in the community to get along with their non African American neighbors. Today many believe that philosophy was flawed and prefer to attend traditional "Black churches" or "Mega" churches.

What happened and why are these churches in the condition they face today? Do we have "black churches" in the community that will soon face the same predicament?

What do you think?

WBEZ: Thousands try for role in #Chiraq

Chiraq is know more for it's controversial title at this point however there were a number of people who attended an open call to be an extra in this production:
More than 2,500 people had gone through the audition process by about 2 p.m., standing for pictures and leaving their contact information.

“I knew there’d be a lot,” said Rev. Michael Pfleger, the pastor at St. Sabina. “But I didn’t know there’d be this many.”

Pfleger said by the end of the day, he expected to see more than 4,000 people.

The casting call had asked for people of all ethnicities from age 7 to 75.

“Grandmas and gang members, all the same, in line,” Pfleger said.

“It’s been great. It’s been a very powerful, very positive thing here at 78th and Racine. I mean, when’s the last time we ever heard a casting call for a movie being held in the
heart of the black community?”
Yeah, there just had to be a quote of Father Pfleger in there and he has little problem with the film title unlike some Aldermen and the Mayor: “I think Spike is a good brother, I think he’s a conscientious brother, and I think people that are here say they want to be connected with Spike Lee.”

Did you attend this open call? Are you hoping to be in this film and be connected with Spike Lee?

DNA Info: Chicago Department of Transportation Draws Up Plans to Improve State Street

The area of State Street between 69th and 79th Streets:
The Chicago Department of Transportation is researching possible improvements for State Street between 69th and 79th streets, motivated in part by a request from Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), who has vowed to improve the stretch.

Sawyer has said he wants to bring more businesses to the corridor, to find ways to improve pedestrian safety and expand street parking. Funding would come from the Arterial Street Resurfacing Program.

CDOT’s recommendations include:
  • resurfacing the street
  • removing excess capacity
  • adding additional parking
  • improving crossings at major transit points
Another proposed improvement would shorten pedestrian crossing distances. Other improvements that would benefit pedestrians would be high-visibility continental crosswalks and ADA ramps at each intersection.
You may have seen some information regarding this via Concerned Citizens of Chatham or The Sixth Ward fb pages

Friday, May 8, 2015

#Chiraq and the film production tax credit
Via RAGE ig
I'm very ecstatic that Englewood will have its time in the limelight thanks the famed director Spike Lee. Although knowing the basic premise of that film - which is regarding inner city gang violence - it's probably not always in the best light. We do hope that this sheds light on a problem that occurs in many neighborhoods in the city.

Since news broke about the opposition to Lee's "joint" expected to be titled Chiraq, we've learned there are many who aren't happy with that title. One of those people who isn't happy is Mayor Rahm Emanuel another person who isn't happy is 4th ward Alderman Will Burns who is seeking to keep Lee's production from receiving a tax credit.

To be sure this isn't recent news exactly and it appears to have been reported in the local press in recent months. It was something worth posting, however, it was also important not to overwhelm this blog with posts about movie coming to this part of town. Still I saw that Rich Miller talked about this news on Thursday with the following comment:
I’m not sure what I think of this. I don’t like government interference in the arts, but when you take the money, I suppose you sometimes have to pay the piper, or however that saying goes
One way to look at it is that yeah Ald. Burns wants to say don't make a movie that puts Chicago in a bad light. Especially if the belief that this term "Chiraq" could be legitimized by this movie.

Personally Lee should make the movie he wants to make which hopefully will bring gang violence in Chicago to light. It seems people want to smack Lee around because he's from New York and he's doing a movie about Chicago. What does it matter perhaps we need an "outsider" to take a look at what's wrong here.

Also not that I totally understand the idea behind tax credits, but we all know Lee can raise funds for his productions. Just look at what he did for those people who helped finance his more well known "joint" Malcolm X. If Ald. Burns is successful in holding back that tax credit, it would be expected that Lee won't be hurting for long.

BTW, if you want to be an extra in Chiraq here's an FB page for more information. There is an open call expected to take place at St. Sabina @ 7801 S. Throop.

Furthermore, Resident Association of Greater Englewood (RAGE) President Ay-Sha Butler wrote her 2¢ on Lee's Chiraq. The film will affect her community so therefore it's important to see how an Englewood resident views this coming production.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Crain's: Emanuel facing decisions on Board of Ed

I'm sure we're going to hear more calls for an elected school board once again:
Mayor Rahm Emanuel will have a chance to reshape the Chicago Board of Education in June, when four of the seven members' terms expire.

Emanuel revamped the board in 2011, appointing a fresh slate of new members. Five of those members are still there, having survived the uproar over the decision in 2012 to close 49 schools and one high school program. Last month, some parent groups demanded Emanuel again install an entirely new board, contending that such a step is needed to restore public confidence in the wake of a federal investigation into a no-bid contract the board approved in 2013.

Ald. Patrick O'Connor, 40th, Emanuel's floor leader in the Chicago City Council, says some changes are likely.

“In terms of the city government, we are looking at a little bit of reshuffling in terms of some departments. Not wholesale changes, but kind of a mini-transition,” O'Connor said. “I don't see why the board would be immune from that.”

But William Sampson, an expert in education policy, predicts that dissatisfaction among parents about the board will force Emanuel to make extensive changes.

“He's going to use this investigation to clean house and then pat himself on the back,” said Sampson, chairman of the Public Policy Studies Department at DePaul University. “In a sense it may be a godsend for him because it gives him the political cover to do it.”

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Monroe Anderson: Spike Lee’s #Chiraq could be KKK

Spike Lee via RAGE ig
So the new Spike Lee "joint" expected to be filmed in Englewood that's causing some controversy among some in Chicago - for it's title primarily - is the subject of a column from Monroe Anderson.
You can see why Chiraq is not the best title for what’s really happening here. So, I’ve got a better suggestion. I think Spike should look at the artwork of visual artist James Pate and either beg, borrow or buy his cutting edge artistic vision. A couple of years ago, Pate had a three-month exhibition at the DuSable Museum. Its title was KKK--Kin Killin Kin.

The detailed black and white drawings, beautiful yet powerful, were of boys from the hood, wearing Ku Klux Klan-like headgear with their black faces exposed or basketball jerseys with the initials KKK on them while pointing guns at each other’s heads. The bullets they fired were artistically frozen just before they entered each other’s heads.

That unnerving reality would make a much more powerful movie than a sequel to the Hughes brothers 1993 hit.
I was thinking this could be another one of those message movies which seemed very popular in the 1990s.  This time at least a movie will be set on the south side of Chicago instead of South Central Los Angeles.

Also if you read the another issue is at play, gentrification. Violence is an important issue of course but not the only one. Neighborhoods like Bronzeville is changing and in the future the eye is on Englewood - where this movie will be set.

Friday, May 1, 2015

DNA Info: City Needs More Than Listening Tour To Ease Tensions With Police

Mark Konkol took quotes from 9th Ward Alderman Anthony Beale as he celebrated the opening of the Methods plant in the Pullman neighborhood:
But after the final laudatory speeches, the historic factory opening took a back seat to questions about what the mayor’s administration has planned to combat the fractured relationship between the Police Department and poor black neighborhoods — particularly in light of the violent rioting in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray that many people view as yet another manifestation of the strained relationship between police and poor black people in America.
Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) has concerns, too.

“I don’t know how you start a listening tour four years after you’ve been here. That should have been what you did first,” Beale said at the Method factory opening.

“And I don’t know how you can say you’re listening when you don’t return phone calls. I’ve called [McCarthy], and he has not returned my phone calls. So how are you going to listen to what’s happening on the ground in my community? I know what’s going on in my community, and I can articulate that to him. It’s up to him to help me in this community to make sure my community is a safer place. But he wouldn’t know that if he doesn’t listen.”
 So what the Alderman is talking about is a listening tour from police superintendent Garry McCarthy. Here's hoping there are community organizations such as the GCA who want to have McCarthy appear in front of their members.