- 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
- Public Meetings Report – June 2, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – June 22, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – June 30, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – July 14, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – July 28, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – August 11, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – August 25, 2022
- Public Meetings Report — October 20, 2022
- Public Meetings Report — November 17, 2022
- Public Meetings Report — December 1, 2022
- Public Meetings Report — January 12, 2023
- Public Meetings Report — January 26, 2023
- Public Meetings Report — February 9, 2023
- Public Meetings Report — February 23, 2023
- Public Meetings Report — March 9, 2023
At its meeting, the Chicago Public Library Board of Directors learned that the library has an Equity Office for Social Justice with a nine-month training program for some employees. A six-part podcast is being planned to celebrate the library’s 150th anniversary this year, reported Brenda Langstraat Bui, president and CEO of the CPL Foundation. She also reported a grant of $250,000 from the MacArthur Foundation to support The 81 Club and $150,000 from Exelon for the MakerLab, CyberNavigators, and YouMedia. The 81 Club, named for the library’s eighty-one locations, is designed to “encourage and celebrate the creative and ambitious thinking of young Chicagoans,” according to its website. The YouMedia program’s website explains that the initiative focuses on “art, digital media . . . and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) projects” for high school students. The library opened on January 1, 1873, in an abandoned water tank at LaSalle and Adams streets with 3,157 volumes. As of last year, the “total size of the collection” was more than six million.
At its meeting the City Council heard public commenters speak in favor of a proposed tax on Amazon sales, saying more money is needed to reduce homelessness and to control property taxes. Two speakers urged the passing of a proposed ordinance to protect rideshare drivers from unfair firing. Four speakers advocated for the protection of St. Adalbert’s Church in Pilsen and a review of its landmark status. Separately, Kassandra Tsitoupoulos, a Chicago Public Schools teacher, a union delegate. and an executive board member of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) shared her experience with the system’s “abysmal parental leave process.” Expanded parental leave at the Chicago Police department was also discussed.The Council also passed resolutions honoring DePaul University on its 125th anniversary, celebrating the achievements of athletic programs at Mount Carmel and Simeon Career Academy, and commemorating the liberation of a Holocaust concentration camp.
The Chicago Plan Commission adopted resolutions involving three development projects at its meeting and deferred discussion on a fourth resolution. The Altenheim Framework Plan is a “rails-with-trails” focusing on development for the Altenheim Line, a partially abandoned rail spur running east-to-west between Garfield and Douglass Parks. The winning entrant of the City’s Pioneer Bank/North Humboldt request for proposals offers a branch of the Chicago Public Library, eighty-five affordable housing units, and a plaza. The development, which is slated for 1614-1638 N. Pulaski Road, includes twenty-five residences designed to be rarely built three-and-four-bedroom apartments. The third approved initiative is the Waterway-Industrial Planned Development at 2800 E. 106th Street. A public commenter complained that this project did not offer enough opportunities for public engagement. A thirty-seven-acre facility proposes to lease parking for six hundred freight trailers.
The City Council Committee on Ethics and Government Oversight meeting focused on an involved discussion about the Chicago Fair Elections Ordinance. The meeting featured a three-person panel, including a New York City Council member, Shahan Hanif. Encapsulating arguments in favor of the ordinance, panel member Alisa Kaplan said, “Our current campaign finance system is a mirror of the social and economic inequality that plagues our communities today.” Kaplan is the executive director of Reform for Illinois, an organization supporting a fair election program. Also on the panel was Maeve Raphelson, a volunteer for Chicago’s The People’s Lobby. Public commenters represented several organizations, including the Better Government Association and Common Cause Illinois. The City’s Inspector General, Deborah Witzburg, reviewed her office’s quarterly reports for the committee and noted that the committee’s chair has jurisdictional authority for all work of the OIG having to do with City Council except violations of the ethics ordinance. The committee also reviewed the issue of a Chicago police officer who said he had been a member of the far-right group, Oath Keepers, since 2010. The department’s Bureau of Internal Affairs reviewed the issue and took no action. Witzburg has asked that the investigation be reopened, adding that “the larger issue . . . is the policy matter of how the police department handles allegations and evidence that its members belong to extremist organizations.”
Reviews of two important items occurred at the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education meeting. First, renewals of charter schools funded by CPS were considered, and, second, Amber Nesbitt of the Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) unit on sexual misconduct allegations presented an overview of the issue in Chicago public schools. Funding renewals for CPS charter schools has been a contentious issue. Board member Elizabeth Todd-Breland does not support long-term renewals, she said, because charter networks could be managing public funds without showing they are performing better than CPS. Contracts with these schools were renewed: North Lawndale College Prep, Little Black Pearl Art & Design Academy, and Plato Learning Academy for two years each and the Instituto Justice and Leadership Academy for one. In her review of alleged sexual misconduct, Nesbitt said that OIG has been investigating 349 cases against CPS employees with 227 active and 122 being closed. In 2022, she said, the average caseload for investigators decreased to fifteen cases from thirty-one and the OIG closed three hundred more cases than in 2021. The findings are available in OIG’s annual report on its website. The OIG found some “concerning” things in its analysis: first, thirteen schools performed their own investigations of adult-on-student misconduct instead of alerting OIG. Second, OIG found that charter school networks, which conduct their own background checks on vendors’ employees, have been relying on vendors themselves to do these checks, sometimes without confirming that checks were done. The implication is that some vendor employees were possibly not screened against the district’s do-not-hire list or against a list of employees involved in active sexual misconduct investigations. It’s possible, she said, that some vendor employees with criminal backgrounds were hired by CPS.
Residents brought their objections about public land being used by the private sector for concerts directly to the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners at its meeting. Public speakers complained that festivals in Douglass and Harrison parks prevented area residents from using the parks and disrupted the residential nature of their neighborhoods. One speaker said that some 2,500 individuals have signed a petition against the concerts. Little discussion followed. Price increases at two Chicago museums and construction at a third were also topics. Representatives for the Field Museum and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum explained price increases. Erin Amico, who heads the Nature Museum as its first Black CEO, said the increase would have little impact on attendance. Park District CFO Steve Lux noted that these were the first increases in fifteen years and that the museum would offer fifty free days each year. Field Museum CFO Le Monte Booker said that City-supplied funds have dropped to four to five million dollars annually from a high of $6 million. Both increases were approved. Speakers also protested the expansion of the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture in Humboldt Park, contending that the unpermitted expansion is illegal and unwanted by the community. Board members explained that the museum circumvented the Park District by receiving permission from the State of Illinois; construction has stopped for the time being.
Eight committees met back to back during these Cook County Board of Commissioners Committee meetings. Here are key items from some of those meetings. The Finance Committee unanimously renewed Deloitte Consulting’s $5.5 million contract for human resources and marketing work for a year. The committee indicated that the firm should complete its work in a way that allows the Board to perform the firm’s functions itself in the future. The Committee of Environment and Sustainability addressed industrial food waste, the city’s tree canopy, and native gardens and weed ordinances. Although there was concern about the ever increasing landfills in the south suburbs, the committee voted unanimously to continue current projects. The Technology and Innovation Committee considered contracts with Gartner, Elite Fiber Optics, and Oracle for software. IT strategic plans were unanimously approved for these offices: Clerk of the Circuit Court, Sheriff, State’s Attorney, and Treasurer.
Key topics at the Cook County Board of Commissioners meeting were approval of a food service vendor to the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago, the selection of Kendall County as a holding location for detainees and inmates facing gang violence in the Cook County Jail, and public commentary about two items: rodents in Hyde Park related to the Obama Library construction and replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. After debate, the board approved a contract with Black Dog Foods, LLC, to provide dairy products to the detention center at 1100 South Hamilton Avenue. A proposal to send designated Cook County Corrections detainees and inmates to Kendall County passed with three dissenting votes.
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