- Public Meetings Report – March 18, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – April 1, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – April 15, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – April 29, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – May 13, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – May 27, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – June 10, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – June 24, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – July 08, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – July 22, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – August 05, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – August 19, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – September 30, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – October 14, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – October 28, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – November 11, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – November 25, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – December 9, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – January 13, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – January 27, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – February 10, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – February 24, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – March 10, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – March 24, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – April 7, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – April 21, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – May 5, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – May 19, 2022
Committee members made little headway on their frustrations with the ward redistricting process at a meeting of the City Council Committee on Committees and Rules. City Hall had yet to publish a finalized proposed map. Committee Chair Michelle Harris (8th Ward) chided supporters of the Latino Caucus map for creating a parallel process that resulted in a last-minute submission and not participating in City Hall’s most recent map-room negotiations. Latino Caucus members countered that they had not been invited to all map-room negotiations or did not feel that their interests were being adequately incorporated into the map. Council member Gilbert Villegas (36th Ward) said this was the “least transparent process ever.” Carlos Ramirez Rosa (35th Ward) characterized the process as “gaslighting.” Alderperson Daniel La Spata (1st Ward) asked how much time the public would have to view the map before the City Council votes. Chair Harris replied that it depended on how long alderpersons take to “get in the space” and reach an agreement.
Ideas on how to use American Rescue Plan funds to reduce housing barriers were presented at an Illinois General Assembly Housing Committee hearing. The speakers represented organizations that advocate for affordable, equitable housing. John Maki of the Alliance for Safety and Justice recommended that the amount of existing housing stock be increased. Richard Rowe, a senior program manager at the Coalition for Supportive Housing, shared the model of Returning Home Ohio. That organization provides permanent supportive housing for formerly incarcerated individuals diagnosed with severe mental illness or HIV. Artist and researcher Laurie Jo Reynolds, coordinator of the Chicago 400 Campaign, pointed out that Illinois registry laws can make it difficult for people with convictions to get approved for housing. People with disabilities can be prevented from using some facilities due to inadequate accommodations. She suggested that the State invest in research to understand the effects of housing policies on crime, public health, and other issues.
The City Council missed the December 1 deadline set by Illinois law for adopting new ward lines, but its members received color copies of City Hall’s long-awaited ward remap proposal at a special City Council meeting. The map has the support of the Black Caucus but is opposed by the Latino Caucus, whose members argue it does not represent the growth of the Latinx demographic in Chicago as shown by recent Census results. The People’s Map, another proposed option, would create thirty-seven “minority-majority” wards, more than any other proposal. Alderperson Michelle Harris (8th Ward), who is responsible for shepherding the redistricting process, announced two public hearings for the week of December 6, with more to follow in the new year. The missed deadline means that groups of at least ten alderpersons may trigger a public vote on a competing map proposal. A compromise is still possible before the June primary elections. Alternatively, the public could vote on a proposal in the summer.
A $510.9 million 2022 budget was approved at a meeting of the Chicago Park District’s Board of Commissioners. The new budget represents a six-percent increase over the district’s 2021 budget. Budget Director Jeff Shellhorn acknowledged the effects of COVID-19 on district programming and predicted that revenue will return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022. Discussion about a new Office of Protection and Accountability took up most of the meeting. With a budget of $617,000, the new office would consist of a director, legal investigator, and assistant. Its role would be to review allegations of misconduct, including discrimination, harassment, violence, and child mistreatment, and provide training to employees to identify and prevent such violations. Commissioners questioned whether the funding would be enough to address a recently uncovered culture of abuse. The budget was approved as written.
The City Council Committee on Special Events, Cultural Affairs and Recreation approved at its meeting the appointment of Erin Harkey as commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). Harkey was appointed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot in October after the retirement of Mark Kelly. Citing figures from Arts Alliance Illinois, Harkey reviewed the serious financial and creative challenges faced by the Chicago arts community. A $3.2 billion industry representing 85,000 before the pandemic, Chicago lost approximately $150 billion in sales and nearly a third of the industry’s jobs between April and July of last year. Some good news, however, is that DCASE received an increase of $26 million in the 2022 City budget. Alderperson Sophia King (4th Ward) commented on the communication issues within the committee. Vice-Chair Andre Vasquez (40th Ward) said the issues would be addressed.
This information was collected in large part using reporting from City Bureau’s Documenters at documenters.org.