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 in the March 4 issue

A West Englewood elementary school shuttered in 2013’s mass closings is expected to be transferred to city ownership after approval at the City Council Committee on Housing and Real Estate on 2/16. The goal of taking over the Granville T. Woods Math and Science Academy Elementary property is to facilitate redevelopment as part of the INVEST South/West initiative. 

The Illinois constitution requires a redistricting plan to be filed by October 5 at the latest, but the Census Bureau announced that states shouldn’t expect 2020 data until September 30, officials noted at the Illinois State Board of Elections meeting on 2/17. There is a potential for the state primaries to be moved, but the board concluded they should do more research.

CPS is launching a yearlong effort to create a new school accountability policy to replace the School Quality Rating Policy, which relies heavily on standardized testing, according to a presentation at the Englewood Community Action Council meeting on 2/18.

Council members sparred with Chicago Budget Director Susie Park over how federal COVID-19 funding was spent during the 2/19 meeting of the City Council Committee on Budget and Government Operations. Though they eventually approved the carryover of $68 million in unspent relief dollars from 2020, as well as more than $200 million in new funding, council members pushed back on Park’s attempts to justify $280 million spent on police.

Far larger percentages of white and Asian employees at the Cook County Health and Hospitals System (CCHHS) have been vaccinated for COVID-19 than Black and Hispanic or Latino employees, officials reported during a 2/19 meeting of the Human Resources Committee of the CCHHS Board of Directors

Two police misconduct settlements for $175,000 and $400,000, respectively, were approved despite significant opposition at the City Council Committee on Finance on 2/22. Officers rammed down the door of the wrong home and are alleged to have held the Franklin family at gunpoint. In the Anderson family case, which squeaked through the committee with a 14-13 vote, CPD killed James Anderson after his mother called for help to take him to the hospital during a mental health episode.

More transparency for tax increment financing (TIF) funds is likely coming to Cook County. An ordinance requiring line item reports on TIF expenditures was approved 15-2 on 2/22 by the Legislation and Intergovernmental Relations Committee of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. 

A policy that would allow Chicago Public Schools to track employee COVID-19 vaccination—and eventually authorize CPS to require it as a condition of employment—passed the Chicago Board of Education on 2/24

A City Council resolution honored the late, great Karen Lewis. The 2/24 meeting was abruptly adjourned, as council members argued that Lightfoot’s spending more than $280 million of COVID-19 funds on police personnel doesn’t add up. Alds. Burke (14th) and Lopez (15th) used a rules maneuver to reconvene on 2/26.

At the Cook County Board of Commissioners Health & Hospitals Committee meeting on 2/24, officials discussed a vaccination outreach project and media campaign. Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller criticized an overemphasis on vaccine hesitancy as an explanation for racial inequity in COVID-19 vaccination, and said outreach wasn’t enough when not everyone can get vaccine appointments.

The Cook County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution on 2/25 to honor former Chicago Teachers’ Union president Karen Lewis. $73 million of federal relief funds to landlords and utility companies were approved.

A $5.5 million increase in a contract to feed Cook County prisoners was the subject of significant questioning at the Cook County Board of Commissioners meeting on 2/25. The Sheriff’s Office attributed the increase to the cost of employees preparing food instead of prisoners during COVID-19, but multiple commissioners pointed out that the contract has lasted nine years without being renegotiated. 

On 2/26 the City Council voted for Mayor Lightfoot’s plan to spend the remaining COVID-19 funds from the 2020 March and December relief packages; it includes $80 million in rental assistance. Council members blocked Ald. Sigcho-Lopez’s (25th) move to consider a resolution to support the hunger strikers on the Southeast Side protesting the relocation of General Iron/Southside Recycling.

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To read more or to see a list of upcoming meetings visit documenters.org.

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