Notes from the 1/22/2020 Issue

Lightfoot’s lite version of an Obama Center CBA

The Housing Department presented a watered-down plan to address the displacement that the construction of the Obama Presidential Center could trigger. Organizers have been pushing for a comprehensive community benefits agreement that would protect residents in a two-mile radius from opportunistic developers and soaring property taxes along the lakefront, but the Lightfoot administration doesn’t find all of that necessary and has decided to focus on Woodlawn alone. Housing commissioner Marisa Novara agreed to keep several elements of the grassroots CBA, such as offering maintenance grants for long-time homeowners, but eliminated a major component supported by Alderman Jeanette Taylor that would have raised the affordability requirement for new construction to 30 percent in Woodlawn, South Shore, and Washington Park.

Black students at the University of Chicago’s Lab School make demands

At an MLK event on campus, students from the Black Students Association read an open letter responding to a racist meme that another Lab School student allegedly posted on social media. The letter made five demands of the school administration: to include an anti-racist policy in the student handbook that outlines specific consequences for students who violate the policy; to send a letter to the entire university community addressing recent events; to explicitly denounce racial slurs and derogatory speech on campus; to provide more diversity, equity, and inclusion training for faculty, specifically around the use of course material that includes racism and other potentially harmful themes; and to hire and retain more faculty and staff of diverse racial, ethnic, religious, gender, sexual, and political identities.

One thousand less ICE arrests

Immigration officials arrested about one thousand fewer Illinois immigrants in fiscal year 2019, which they complain is the result of tightened state and local laws. The state’s Trust Act does not allow police to arrest anyone on the basis of their immigration status and Chicago’s sanctuary city ordinance prohibits Chicago police from handing over people in their custody to ICE. Lightfoot has denied immigration officials from accessing certain government databases, but advocates say the mayor could take it further by signing an executive order that bars Homeland Security from accessing all local databases, including the problematic Chicago gang database, and that won’t permit Chicago police to act as “customs officials.”

Englewood’s five council members

Englewood is famously gerrymandered into five different wards, creating a political patchwork often cited as an impenetrable impediment to civic participation and effecting change. But in a show of unity or electability, the five aldermen representing EnglewoodAlds. Stephanie Coleman (16th Ward), David Moore (17th Ward), Jeanette Taylor (20th Ward), Roderick Sawyer (6th Ward) and Raymond Lopez (15th Ward)came together January 14 for a town hall at Kennedy-King College. A standing-room crowd of more than five hundred packed the room and speakers hammered hard on the urgency of equitable investment and access to city resources. The 2020 census should eventually result in a remapping of ward lines; between that and the millions promised to flow to Englewood and nine other neighborhoods through the city’s Invest South/West Initiative, residents are skeptically optimistic.

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