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

Public Meetings Report – June 24, 2021

A recap of select open meetings at the local, county, and state level for the June 24 issue

  1. Public Meetings Report – March 18, 2021
  2. Public Meetings Report – April 1, 2021
  3. Public Meetings Report – April 15, 2021
  4. Public Meetings Report – April 29, 2021
  5. Public Meetings Report – May 13, 2021
  6. Public Meetings Report – May 27, 2021
  7. Public Meetings Report – June 10, 2021
  8. Public Meetings Report – June 24, 2021
  9. Public Meetings Report – July 08, 2021
  10. Public Meetings Report – July 22, 2021
  11. Public Meetings Report – August 05, 2021
  12. Public Meetings Report – August 19, 2021
  13. Public Meetings Report – September 30, 2021
  14. Public Meetings Report – October 14, 2021

June 7
The public can review the Cook County redistricting process and draw their own proposed maps in a designated room in the Cook County Administration Building (118 N. Clark Street, 4th Floor, Room 4A). At a public comment session with the Cook County Board of Commissioners, Commissioner Deborah Sims moved to extend the deadline for public input to September 16. The boundaries of Cook County’s seventeen districts are redrawn every ten years to more accurately represent current demographics. To RSVP, email cookredistricting2020@cookcountyil.gov.

Kenwood community members want to honor the legacy of blues legend Muddy Waters by supporting designation of his former home at 4339 S. Lake Avenue as an historic landmark. They also want to ensure that restoration is completed in a timely manner. Ald. Sophia King (4th Ward) hosted a community meeting to discuss the proposed landmarking of a house Waters owned and made music in from 1954-1983. Kandalyn Hahn, a City project coordinator with the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, explained that no clean up or development requirement is needed for landmark status.

June 8
Building a Boys & Girls Club on the site of the planned police academy would bring $6 million in private investment to the West Side and complement the Austin and Humboldt Park INVEST South/West Corridors, City planner Ernest Bellamy said at a meeting of the Community Development Commission. The original site layout was “disjointed” with the police academy on one end and Peach’s and Culver’s restaurants on the other, separated by a large parking lot, he added. The revised layout would include an 18,000-square-foot, two-story Boys & Girls Club and more pedestrian-friendly areas.

June 9
The process for setting up a farmers market is being streamlined. Independent farmers markets don’t have to pay a fee to register with the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), and DCASE staff are available as a resource, Alisa Baum, City markets program manager, said at a meeting of the City Council Committee on Special Events, Cultural Affairs and Recreation. The city manages farmers markets in Austin, Bronzeville, Daley Plaza, Englewood, Pullman, Roseland, West Humboldt Park, Clark/Division, and Desplaines Street, but more than three-quarters of Chicago farmers markets are run independently. 

A resolution designating October as Italian American Heritage and Culture Month in Chicago was approved with little discussion by the City Council. At a meeting of the City Council Committee on Special Events, Cultural Affairs and Recreation, Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th Ward) said it meant a lot to him to hear about the experience of undocumented Italian immigrants and asked that this shared experience not be forgotten in future City Council discussions. In May, Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38th Ward), chief sponsor of the resolution and chair of the committee, had spoken against replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day at a Cook County Board committee meeting.  

Two members of the Black Heroes Matter coalition asked the City Council Committee on Special Events, Cultural Affairs and Recreation to support Ald. David Moore’s (17th Ward) proposed ordinance to rename outer Lake Shore Drive after Jean Baptiste Pointe Du Sable. Advocates for the renaming have spoken at several previous meetings. Based on transportation agency documents, new signage reflecting this change has been estimated to cost about $850,000. Lightfoot’s competing proposal to develop the existing Du Sable Park and rename the Riverwalk instead would cost closer to $40 million.

June 10
Ninety-eight percent of people canvassed in Englewood on June 4 and 5 had not received the COVID-19 vaccine, Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady reported to the City Council Committee on Health and Human Relations during a monthly pandemic update. Fifty-one percent of them expressed interest in being vaccinated, however, Arwardy reported. She doesn’t foresee Chicago mandating COVID-19 vaccination, though schools and employers may choose to mandate mask-wearing. Six-month data on vaccine study participants continues to be analyzed, and the emergency use authorization for Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots will probably be lifted around September.

ComEd challengers may submit electric grid proposals to the City until July 30, a ninety-day deadline extension, David J. Reynolds, Commissioner of the Department of Assets, Information and Services, reported to the City Council Committee on Environmental Protection and Energy. ComEd’s franchise agreement to supply electrical power is up for review and, Reynolds explained, “We felt that we owed it to Chicago residents to explore whether there’s another structure or entity that could drive reliable, safe, and affordable energy delivery and meet the challenges of the future energy landscape.” The franchise, which was recently involved in a bribery scandal, has “only been reevaluated twice” in nearly seventy-five years.

June 11
A proposal to turn a vacant Roseland storefront into offices, with a health information internship program and coworking space, was presented by ReveNewCycle, a revenue cycle management and consulting company, at the Cook County Land Bank Authority (CCLBA) Land Transactions Committee. Cecelia Harrison, the firm’s owner and a neighborhood resident, explained that the firm focuses on securing lost revenue for health care providers serving disadvantaged communities. The site is a block from the Red Line extension stop planned for 111th Street, and Planning and Development Commissioner Maurice Cox noted that the location would complement the nearby Roseland Community Medical District.

June 14
Two Back of the Yards residents called for their neighborhood to be included completely in one Cook County district—preferably the 7th—which is represented by Commissioner Alma Anaya. At the hearing on redistricting hosted by the Cook County Board of Commissioners, a small business owner explained the challenges of obtaining government services when the neighborhood is split between representatives. City Administrator Ruth Siaba Green asked that Berwyn also remain completely in Commissioner Frank Aguilar’s 16th District.

June 15
The Chicago Torture Justice Center (CTJC) plans to move from its current location at Englewood Health Clinic to the former Woodlawn Health Center where it will continue to provide counseling and other services to people who have experienced police violence. The nonprofit CTJC advocated for the City’s reparations to the more than one hundred Black Chicagoans tortured by Chicago Police Department Cmdr. Jon Burge. At its meeting the City Council Committee on Housing and Real Estate approved the agreement, a $1 lease and modest operating fees.

A proposed worker protection ordinance would require employers to provide domestic workers with written contracts. At a meeting of the City Council Committee on Workforce Development, Council members voted to support the ordinance, which is part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s “Chi Biz Strong” initiative to help businesses coming out of the pandemic. If passed by the full Council, the ordinance would penalize wage theft, require guaranteed paid sick leave for many workers, and lead to a $15-per-hour minimum wage. 

June 16
The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) aims to provide mental health services to 20,000 residents this year, Deputy Commissioner for Behavioral Health Matthew Richards said at a meeting of the Chicago Board of Health—a four hundred percent increase over 2019. CDPH is also distributing grants ranging from $250,000 to $350,000 to trauma-informed mental health centers. The CDPH is developing a co-responder model that would send mental health professionals to mental health-related emergencies.

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will receive $1.789 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III funds as part of the American Rescue Plan for post-COVID recovery. At a special meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, CPS officials presented Moving Forward Together, their plan to use the funds to address learning loss, social/emotional health and resource inequity. Two public online town halls are planned for next week. 

June 17
The Chicago Police Department (CPD) provided an overview of its updated foot pursuit policy—which emphasizes sanctity of life, safety and continual assessment of a situation—for the Chicago Police Board. CPD will work with the Inspector General’s office to incorporate feedback, hold more public meetings in August, and finalize the policy in September. Members of the public can read and comment on the proposed foot pursuit policy on CPD’s website through July 15. 

June 18
Council members adjourned without voting on two competing police accountability proposals at a meeting of the City Council Committee on Public Safety. Just before the start of the meeting, the Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS) Ordinance was amended to remove a requirement that 2022 ballots include a binding referendum on the creation of an 11-member commission that would have the power to hire and fire the police superintendent and make other key decisions that currently live with the mayor. While this was supposed to make the ordinance more palatable, several Council members faulted the sponsors for introducing the change at the last minute, and a vote to discuss the substitute ordinance failed by a vote of 10-9. 

This information was collected in large part using reporting from City Bureau’s Documenters at documenters.org.

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