- 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
In an unusual move, the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education ended its meeting with a closed-door session from which it did not emerge. During the public section of the meeting, the board heard from several commenters concerned about whether Local School Council (LSC) members are receiving appropriate training, especially on the South Side. Several items on the agenda were approved, but others were not dealt with before the closed session. Board of Education Vice President Sendhil Revuluri, who has served since June 2019, announced his resignation and warned that the system is underfunded by $1 billion. He also reported that a fiscal year 2023 budget reader’s guide is to be posted on the CPS website to facilitate public input. The board learned from CPS that A’Janay Lurry, a senior at Corliss High School in Pullman, is the first Black woman in the country under twenty-one to hold a commercial drone pilot’s license. She is one of five students in the school’s aviation program to pass a sixty-question exam required by the Federal Aviation Administration.
At its meeting, the City Council Committee on Budget and Government Operations reviewed elements of the Chicago Recovery Plan, focusing on environmental and climate initiatives. The City of Chicago website explains that the plan is designed “to amplify once-in-a-generation federal funding to create an equity-based investment strategy to catalyze a sustainable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.” Under the federal American Rescue Plan Act, the City is to receive nearly $1.9 billion over three to five years and plans to supplement those funds with $600 million in local bond funds. Council members were concerned about the processes used to source contractors, including requests for information (RFIs) and requests for proposals (RFPs). Among the proposed projects are initiatives to increase the city’s tree canopy, to install solar panels on rooftops of public libraries, and to build energy-efficient playgrounds. Council members hope to ensure racial and socioeconomic equity as the recovery plan’s initiatives are deployed, and many asked about equity in planned programs involving energy-efficient retrofitting of single-family residences and two-flats.
A City Council Joint Committee meeting of Health and Human Relations and Public Safety was a hearing about a single issue: access to alternative and innovative treatments for Chicago first-responder employees dealing with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The hearing included several first-person accounts of PTSD, as well as discussion of a specific treatment and its effectiveness. Eugene Lipov, MD, described the treatment, Stellate Ganglion Block, as well as a modified version he developed. The goal is to eliminate or reduce PTSD symptoms. Individuals who had undergone stellate ganglion block procedures discussed their resulting thoughts and feelings in positive terms.
More than $1 billion in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenue was the basis for discussion of several key projects during a six-hour meeting of the City Council Committee on Finance. TIF funds, diverted from property taxes, are used to supplement funding for various public initiatives. The funds discussed did not constitute the full costs of the projects. Key points of discussion were the allotment of $959 million for the Red Line Extension project and $85 million for realigning Metra infrastructure and adding a new segment of West 15th Street in connection with the University of Illinois Discovery Partners Institute. Other proposed TIF spending included $10 million for a new park district headquarters in Brighton Park; $5.8 million to refurbish the Gerber Building in Uptown as a grocery store; and $8 million for the Lawndale Innovation Center. Funding for the Red Line Extension was approved for consideration by the full council. A proposal to repeal the property tax escalator to fund pensions was rejected.
The public comment period at the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability meeting was dominated by speakers arguing that the police force was insufficient and resulting in inadequate coverage. Commenters raised concerns about the total number of officers and about car thefts. One speaker argued for more police accountability, citing the millions paid out by the City in recent years in settlements related to CPD misconduct. Later in the meeting, the CPD Budget and Allocation Committee reported that “eighty-five percent of CPD budget goes to pay personnel.” The CPD Goal Assessment Commission reported three goals for 2023: 1) recruit new officers with diversified backgrounds to reflect Chicago’s population; 2) expand public safety, in part by conducting more problem-solving activities in neighborhoods; 3) continue public input and community engagement.
The City Council Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards passed a series of amendments to the Chicago construction codes at its meeting. The amendments will, among other things, raise stop-work penalties with the goal of deterring mega developments from ignoring stop-work orders and simply treating those penalties as the cost of doing business. The modernized code amendments will also follow international standards in efforts to drive down costs across the board, which should contribute to mitigating the current housing affordability crisis in Chicago. Concerns were raised regarding the proposed River West casino development—including questions about traffic studies, economic viability, approval from the Illinois Gaming Board, and City participation goals—but the committee passed its zoning amendments. This will be the first minority-led casino development in the country and the first casino in Chicago. The University of Chicago 59th/60th Street Station will be renovated on the Metra Electric Main Line. The renovations include compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), reconstruction of headhouses, heating lamps, bridge improvements, new stairs, sidewalk replacements, and more.
A City Council meeting inspired extensive discussion on diversity, equity, and access in Chicago, especially regarding the extension of the CTA Red Line beyond 95th and into the far South Side; the building of a new high school near the South Loop, Bridgeport, and Chinatown; and City resolutions honoring the contributions made by citizens to Chicago’s communities of color. An interesting contrast appeared regarding Chicago’s relationship to policing, with the City Council extending praise for school resource officers’ contributions to the community—and calling these kinds of stories undertold—while also inspiring concern with multiple agenda items to approve City settlements based on police actions. Arguably the hottest ticket item of the meeting, regarding the Bally’s casino, was straightforward, with Alderman Thomas Tunney (44th Ward) calling attention to the fact that the vote concerned modifications and amendments to the casino’s building plan.
Six years and two blown deadlines after the Department of Justice ordered the Chicago Park District to bring seventeen field houses used as voting sites into compliance with the ADA’s accessibility requirements, no work on compliance has yet begun. The Park District plans to work on the first phase of work needed over the next five years, the Park District’s director of planning and construction reported at the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners meeting. During public comment, six Humboldt Park residents voiced their opposition to a large rectangular archives building being constructed without permission on public land next to the landmarked Humboldt Park Receptory and Stables. Commissioners approved the proposed 2023 budget for the Chicago Park District of $545.4 million, a 6.7 percent increase over the 2022 budget.
At the Chicago Police Board meeting, CPD leadership and other public safety officials discussed an updated CPD search warrant policy and a report from the CPD superintendent. Risa Lanier, first assistant state’s attorney, clarified the involvement of the Cook County State’s Attorney in search warrants. The case of Anjanette Young in February of 2019 resulted in the City awarding $2.9 million to Young as compensation for a botched raid. The case also sparked a review by CPD of search warrant policies and police behaviors. Late last year, CPD posted a “special order directive” in connection with warrants specifying, among other items, that CPD have proof that a warrant is targeting the right person, knowledge of whether children will be present, documentation of resulting arrests, and documentation of items taken during a search. The superintendent’s report, presented by Brian McDermott, chief of the bureau of patrol, reported on increased CPD patrolling of the CTA; positive results from the carjacking task force; and prioritization of officer wellness and recruitment.