Public Meetings Report. Illustration by Holley Appold/South Side Weekly
Public Meetings Report. Illustration by Holley Appold/South Side Weekly

Public Meetings Report

A recap of select open meetings at the local, county, and state level for the April 1 issue

(previous report for reference)

Mar. 15

A permanent remote work program will be an option for most Illinois State Board of Elections staff once telework related to COVID-19 ends. The board approved a detailed telework policy at its meeting, which enables eligible staff to opt in to schedule three days in the office and two at home. ISBE members also expressed opposition to an Illinois Senate bill prohibiting them from donating to political committees.

Mar. 16

A proposal to keep Chicago Community Land Trust homes affordable for longer was approved at the City Council Committee on Housing and Real Estate meeting, with only one no vote after public commenters spoke overwhelmingly in favor, and later passed at City Council. Prior to the change, the agreements that ensure CCLT homes are sold at affordable prices ended 30 years after the original purchase, regardless of how often a home changed hands. Now, that 30-year clock will start anew each time a home is sold before the mortgage term ends. The agreements also ensure that homeowners benefit and profit from ownership. 

The annual Chicago Housing Authority “Moving to Work” report was approved at the CHA’s board meeting. The report tracks CHA compliance with its agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), including details of its initiatives. Last year more than 200 units were added through development and vouchers, an official emphasized. The board also approved a contract to include a Near West Side building in a voucher program after its rehabilitation, which could result in the eviction of tenants ineligible for CHA programs.

The selection of COVID-19 vaccination sites for suburban Cook County is evolving, officials reported at the Health and Hospitals Committee of the Cook County Board of Commissioners meeting. The County is moving away from large arenas and convention centers, which tend to be expensive and present scheduling conflicts. Instead, planners are considering commercial venues like big box stores, while prioritizing sites accessible by public transit and near COVID-19-vulnerable communities.

Mar. 22: 

The City Council Finance Committee approved a proposed ordinance for a pilot program that would impose a surcharge on demolition permits in the 606 residential area and Pilsen, at $15,000 for a detached house, townhouse, or two-flat, and $5,000 per unit for multi-unit buildings. Council members Sposato, Lopez, and Cardenas raised concerns that this would effectively diminish the property equity residents have built if they chose to demolish or renovate. Ald. Sigcho-Lopez responded that this ordinance would regulate the “free for all” instigated by big developers, which contributes to gentrification and exacerbates displacement of working-class communities. After the committee voted 20 to 11 in favor of the proposed amendment, it passed the full City Council (also in a divided vote, 37 to 12) in its meeting two days later.

Mar. 23

At a City Council Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards meeting, Chicago artists spoke against an ordinance proposed (and withdrawn) by Ald. Sophia King that would have shut down grassroots exhibition spaces like house museums and apartment galleries. The president and CEO of Landmarks Chicago, Bonnie McDonald, said the organization’s research showed that more than 30 organizations would be negatively impacted by the ordinance.

Mar. 24

A symbolic resolution against ethnic discrimination in India was rejected at this month’s City Council meeting by a 28-18 vote after the proposal received both significant support and significant pushback from South Asian residents. 

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Olivia Stovicek and Jacqueline Serrato for City Bureau’s Documenters & South Side Weekly 

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